Storm aid project gives Rhodes chance to teach son

Published 4:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

Susan Rhodes and her son John Braxton spent Thursday evening surrounded by paper towels, toys, snacks and other supplies.
This morning, they plan to pull out of Brewton with a truck filled with help for tornado victims in north Alabama.
Despite a busy schedule — college classes, full-time job and volunteer work — Rhodes makes time for her most important role: Mom.
And Rhodes said she makes sure that role imparts the kind of life lessons that today’s delivery will give her son.
“There is so much that our children are exposed to and more they can be exposed to now,” Rhodes said. “It’s my job to expose him to every educational experience possible.”
Rhodes, along with a handful of volunteers, has organized a relief effort aimed at the citizens of Ider and nearby communities in the wake of last week’s killer tornadoes. John Braxton, 7, will join her today when the delivery of needed supplies and comfort items is made.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show John Braxton how to be a caring person and to help those in need,” Rhodes said. “It’s my goal to raise him to be an honest, respectful, compassionate well thought of man who loves God and his community. This is a life lesson that he will never forget. There are certain moments that allow you to teach your children and I couldn’t be happier that we have this chance.”
Rhodes, who is a single mother, is busy with her job at the Auburn Extension Service every day while throwing in the work required to earn a degree.
She is currently enrolled in classes with Huntingdon University through Jefferson Davis Community College.
The degree she will earn when classes are complete will help her provide the life she wants her son to have.
“I could have gone on to Auburn University at Montgomery and gotten my degree much faster,” Rhodes said. “But, the sacrifice that I’m making to take a little longer to get a degree allows me to be at home with my son when he needs me.”
John Braxton thinks his mom is special because of the work he sees her do on a regular basis.
“She’s always trying to help somebody,” John Braxton said. “She helps me get ready for school everyday and she helps me with my homework. She helps people like she’s doing now.”
John Braxton used one word to sum up his feelings of the mother who even plays ball with him.
“She’s amazing,” John Braxton said. “She can do anything. She’s pretty nice. She helps me with my baseball. She’ll get down right beside me in my helmet with the bat and help me hit the ball. She’s a good person and does good things.”
The days for the Rhodes’ a full of activity and learning experiences, but Susan said she could never do it alone. “I have a wonderful support system,” Rhodes said. “I have help from my family and I have great friends who lend a hand from time to time.”
Not only do friends and family help Rhodes provide opportunities for her son, she credits Brewton for being a help as well.
“We are blessed to have the resources that we have in Brewton,” Rhodes said. “John Braxton is involved in Little League and is on the swim team. He is really into sports at the YMCA. He loves it and I am thankful for the chances that he has to be involved with other children his age.”
Rhodes said being a mom has its challenges, but it’s a challenge she is up to and prays she’s doing a good job.
“I want to be there with him as much as possible to lead him in the right direction,” Rhodes said. “You have to lead by example and that’s what I try to do. You have to be a leader, but you also have to learn how to be a follower. That’s the building blocks of character and I try to take ever opportunity to show that to John Braxton.”
Juggling career, school, charity, home and family takes a lot of time, but Rhodes said the time she spends being a mom make up the most precious moments of her day. “You never know how much time you’ve got with your child,” she said. “Never put opportunities off when you have chances in front of you to teach your child. Take the time you’ve been given with your children and make the most of it. Moments with your children pass way too fast.”