Jessica Thompson, third from left, is one of the first two students to be awarded scholarships by the Barber Academy in Jeffersonville. Also pictured (from left) Everett Pimpleton, lead pastor at Empowerment Community Church in New Albany; Harriett Goldberg, public services librarian at the Jeffersonville Township Library; and David Seckman, director of the library.

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Barber Academy in Jeffersonville has recently awarded its first two scholarships to students reaching toward success in their trade and has partnered with other community organizations to help provide much-needed resources to them and other students.

A reception Monday at the Jeffersonville Township Public Library honored recipients Jessica Thompson and Kendrick Richardson, who were awarded the funds earlier this year by the academy, which was founded and is owned by Marshall Pence.

Pence is also partnering with Everett Richard Pimpleton, lead pastor at Empowerment Community Church in New Albany, and the library, which purchased a set of textbooks that can be checked out by students. An anonymous donor also secured for the library three additional sets of textbooks, including one in Spanish.

“Our whole thing at the library is promoting lifelong learning and that can take a variety of forms,” library Director David Seckman said at the reception. “So I think this opportunity to collaborate with the barber college to be able to help out with a program that is a real skill...we’re really excited about that.”

Students can enroll in the program starting as 16, but must have either their high school diploma or GED to be licensed by the state. This is where the library can also help, as it has free GED classes that students can take along with classes at the Barber Academy.

Richardson was unable to attend the reception, but Thompson expressed her gratitude for the help she’s been given to complete the program. She’s been licensed as a stylist for years and recently made the switch to the Barber Academy, planning to graduate in February. For her, as a single mother, getting that push from the academy is helping her make lives better for herself and her two girls.

“I do everything by myself, everything comes out of my pocket,” she said. “I was paying for the college at first and this was a blessing.” She said the scholarship award meant everything to her because it “gave me the momentum to just keep going.”

Pence has tasked Pimpleton to help find students who would be good candidates for the school and see what kind of help they may need. Pimpleton said the scholarships, which are over $3,400 per student, can make a difference in a person’s success.

“What we’re trying to do is giving adults another chance, especially those who have been incarcerated or dropped out of school,” he said. “This is a way to help young people become outstanding citizens and also to be creative enough where in years to come they can own their own business and from there they’ll be touching every person like that in their chair.”

He said this includes working with kids in the foster care system, who once they turn 18, need to have a stable source of income.

This outreach is also part of the mission of the church he leads near the housing authority units in New Albany.

“That’s what we’re called to do — to minister to everyone to help keep them empowered and also feel like ‘I have hope,’” he said. “’I have a chance to do something in life, I have a chance to be secure in life.’”

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