Grateful hearts speak volumes

Published 9:01 am Friday, June 24, 2011

Brenda Haberstroh, left, and her daughter, Kelly, after the June 20 Pelham City Council meeting. (Special/Connie Nolen)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

At last week’s Pelham City Council Meeting, the youngest person on the agenda was recent Pelham High School graduate Kelly Haberstroh. As the winner of the first Pelham Library Guild scholarship, Haberstroh addressed the mayor and council.

“I want to thank my mom,” said Haberstroh. “She always made me believe that I could do whatever I wanted to do.” Haberstroh also thanked the Library Guild and the library, her church, her school, her teachers and her community. My history with Kelly takes me back to her sophomore year when she entered my creative writing class as an uncertain sophomore.

Haberstroh blossomed into the confident young woman who announced to the mayor and City Council that she would be attending the University of Montevallo this fall beginning her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Planning to earn her graduate degree in counseling, Haberstroh will pursue a career working with troubled teens.

What a gift Haberstroh will be to the kids she counsels and what a spokesperson she is for this city! Last summer, working with Paula Holly on a project to list what the city of Pelham offers its youth, I recalled Haberstroh’s journal entries and asked her to comment on the city’s outreach to its youngest citizens. Haberstroh sent this message:

“One of the most important things I think my community offers to its youth, and to everyone, is our Pelham Public Library. For about a year, my family didn’t have the Internet so I went to the library to do research, write papers, projects or to print. The staff always helped me. One time I had to go in daily for two weeks to finish a project, and they helped me every day. We also visited when our printer was being stubborn or when we needed a good book. The library is the reason I grew my passion for reading and then eventually developed my talent and love for writing. I strongly believe my community has helped me become who I am today.”

Kelly Haberstroh’s mom, Brenda, said, “I want to thank the people at Pelham First Baptist Church who have become an extension of our family. I want to thank the people at the library and Kelly’s teachers. I’ve raised Kelly as a single mom, but I haven’t raised her alone. The Pelham community has embraced us. I’ve never felt alone here.”

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at