Meet Grace Ann Long
GraceAnn Long was born November 26, 1983 outside of Kingston, Jamaica, WI to Carol Hamilton and Basil Long – when Carol was 16 years old and in reality just a child herself. GraceAnn became another child who “didn’t know” her father. It would almost be a cliché if it weren’t true.
GraceAnn and her mother had a rocky relationship. She resented the fact that her mother left her at such a young age. GraceAnn suffered from much hardship and abuse as she bounced from home to home to finish high school. Age 12 is the year GraceAnn describes as the year she lost her childhood – despite the years of abuse, which she had come to believe was “normal”. In search of a better life, GraceAnn’s mother left for the U.S. leaving her under the care of her maternal grandparents until she joined her mother years later.
The USA and New York offered a young GraceAnn a whole new and different world from what she had known in Jamaica. As she settled in with her mother in Hempstead, New York, GraceAnn did her best to make the most of her newfound opportunities. She was enrolled in the Uniondale School system where she found teachers who cared for and mentored her. Still, even at such a young age, she felt as though something was missing. She searched for that extra direction that she knew could help define her.
By the ninth grade, GraceAnn had discovered track and field and was determined to give it her all. By the time she graduated, GraceAnn had earned both All-State and All-American honors as a sprinter.
Life has a way of interfering with people’s dreams. While GraceAnn would have hoped that her life would run smoothly with school and track, her family life was in turmoil. Her relationship with her mother became increasingly unbearable. At age 16, GraceAnn had had enough, left home and, with help from teachers filed to become an “independent”.
Many teens dream about the freedom believe comes with being an “independent” – what they don’t dream about is the rape and abuse that can confront a teen. That is what is GraceAnn faced. With her mother not offering the ordered financial support, GraceAnn once again bounced from home to home. There were times when she literally did not know where she would sleep that night.
GraceAnn’s plight did not become any easier, as people began continued to prey on her vulnerability as a homeless teen, including the rape she endured at age 17. Thoughts of escaping to the streets consumed her mind. It was an easy way out and offered, at least a temporary way out of her situation. Thoughts of suicide entered her mind as well as a possible way to end her nightmare. And yet, despite the hardships, not knowing which of her friends parents would feed her and let her spend the night, GraceAnn felt the burning desire to overcome this miserable path life seemed to have assigned her.
She put thoughts of the streets away and rejected suicide. She put whatever energy she had into realizing her dreams, focusing her energy on the opportunities that running and academics offered her to to rise above her current situation. Instead of hurting herself, she determined, now more than ever to achieve the American Dream.
GraceAnn’s graduation from Uniondale High School was her first step into the future. She attended Barton Community College on a track scholarship for one year, then transferred to Queensboro CC. Life has a way of throwing curveballs and before she could graduate, she had had the first of her two babies.
Working and going to school on-line, she was determined to not make the same mistakes raising her two boys that her mother had made with her. In spite of the long hours she had to work, she was committed to coming home, taking care of her children and then studying on-line. She received her bachelors and now pursuing her masters degree.
There is a saying that the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. And many times, the Lord will test you. Such said the pastor GraceAnn turned to for guidance. As years past her relationship with her children’s father ended and she endured her own abusive relationship.By 27-years-old, GraceAnn had decided enough was enough. She had lived a life that most of us can never imagine – and a life that felt more like destruction than life.
Yet, despite living a life a horror-movie life, she never gave up. She placed her conviction in her belief in the Lord. She placed her conviction in the belief that a better life was just around the corner and that she only had to hold and persevere. She became ever more resilient as she resolved that her struggles would only make her stronger and that all of the obstacles that life had thrown at her were put in their place as a foundation for her to succeed in life.
All content provided on this site is compiled and composed by Grace Ann Long and the GAL Team.
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