The Documentary
The Collins Family
Viewer's Guide
Filmmaker Tod Lending
Legacy Legislative Update
The Collins Family
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Mother to Alaissa and Wanda, Dorothy demonstrates the value of intergenerational parenting, mentoring and support. Tuition credit from her part-time work in the library and afterschool program at St. Malachy makes it possible for her grandchildren to have a "decent education" by attending school there. Her caring and strength offer stability, especially to Wanda's fractured family. In part because of her faith, Dorothy's resiliency strengthened her resolve to believe in and support her family.

Dorothy's dream to escape the projects and break her cycle of poverty was realized through support from many sources. Media coverage of Terrell's death resulted in an anonymous gift of $10,000 to help her purchase a home in a revitalized neighborhood. It would be three years, however, before she found the support she needed to secure a home she could afford. Sheila Barber, a banker, helped Dorothy apply for a home construction project for low-income families. Along with the $10,000 down payment, her part-time job at St. Malachy enabled Dorothy to qualify for the loan. Sheila also drove her to different neighborhoods to find a suitable and affordable lot and explained her choices for home construction.

Almost four years after Terrell's death, on July 31, 1998, a very nervous Dorothy signs her loan papers. Mike Burns, an attorney who had been a mentor to Terrell, reviews the closing documents for the house with her and offers emotional support. He tells her: "You're a homeowner." Dorothy expresses a new optimism. "Terrell's on top of the world now...This house has a lot to do with him."

The family's last Thanksgiving in the projects gave them "a lot to be thankful for." Construction of the house is nearly completed. Eager to leave the projects, Dorothy and Wanda's family move in before it is completely finished. Christmas is celebrated in their new home.

Video Update Marquis (Jack) Alaissa Wanda Nickcole