A mother remembers her son through helping others
Life After Lee
Lee died that night at Grady Hospital. His mother, Allison Webb, remembers it as the night her life changed forever.
“When that happened there was a shift in my life. Lee was gone. But then it made me really think about what to do. How do I want to help people? So many people helped me,” Webb said.
Less than a month after Lee’s death, his mother founded The Lee Project (TLP), a nonprofit focused on Atlanta schools and a simple message: unity through diversity. Webb wanted to give hope and inspire others with stories similar to hers.
Now, The Lee Project has partnered with the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University to start a new scholarship. The Lee Project Scholarship supports students who have overcome adversity or tragedy, with a special preference given to graduates of Grady High School, Lee’s alma mater.
“I could allow myself to sit around and ask ‘why Lee’ but I know I will never fully have the answer. Helping other people while keeping Lee’s spirit alive through TLP works for me,” she said.
The Lee Project Endowed Scholarship was awarded to its first two recipients this year, pre-journalism major Mallory McFarlin and computer science major Rex Petersen. Each received $1,000.
That kind of support can make a big difference, said Tammy Patterson-Hill, director of the Office of Academic Assistance for the College of Arts and Sciences.
“When tragedy strikes, it can have a devastating impact both academically and financially. Suddenly, in addition to dealing with the tragedy itself, students also have to find the stamina to continue their education, not to mention maintaining their GPA,” Patterson-Hill said.
McFarlin and Petersen, graduates of Grady High School, both knew of Lee.
“It was so special when Rex and Mallory shared with me that they knew Lee. Soon the students will know Lee only through TLP, so having the first two recipients share memories of Lee confirmed we’re on the right path,” Webb said.
She hopes that the scholarship will not only lessen the financial burden on students, but also inspire them to push pass adversity – an act she practices daily.
“I say two things that have really helped me have been working with the Lee Project and attending Georgia State University. They both go hand and hand,” she said. “I think the Lee Project in conjunction with Georgia State University is the best way to remember and honor him.”
Webb is following in Lee’s footsteps as a Georgia State student. She is studying social work in the Andrew Young School of Public Policy, a decision she made following Lee’s death. She is working toward a master’s degree in social work, and plans to use her degree to promote diversity and change in the educational system. She hopes to graduate in 2018.
“My graduation will be in honor and memory of Lee,” she said.
Webb is currently developing a TLP program to help teachers, counselors and parents at Grady High School identify and assist students dealing with adversity or tragedy. The Lee Project also works through community partnerships, outreach projects and fundraising initiatives such as the organization’s “Save the Change to Make a Change” contribution jars.
“I’ve lost so many new and future memories with Lee but through TLP I get the opportunity to create new ones and continue to have him as a huge part of my life,” she said. “He is cheesing up there knowing his name will go on forever. I imagine him with a big beautiful smile.”
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity Georgia State University has given us as a family to share the Lee Project and also to heal,” she added.
For more information on the Lee Project Endowed Scholarship, please visit the Lee Project website.