Feb 25, 2022

It was March 2019, and Rihanna, 39, her 4 kids, and her husband Scott, a disabled Army Veteran, moved to Carroll County and started frequenting The Brass Hat Café. Rihanna started coming to Brass Hat Café because she was very involved with the community. Her outgoing personality, love of giving to others, enamored staff, volunteers, and clients at Brass Hat Café.

She was truly one of a kind, according to Andrea Gill, Case Manager for The Salvation Army of Carroll County.

Although both Rihanna, and her husband Scott came from loving, functional homes; the family was not without problems. After serving several tours in Afghanistan in 2020, Scott developed severe PTSD, mental illness, and was also a disabled veteran. He was unable to hold down a job or provide.

 The family solely lived on Scott’s VA disability checks, which only averaged up to $1,700 a month. How could a family of 4 live off this severance without facing bill, food assistance, or utility issues? He would forget where he was, but he wouldn’t forget who he was, according to Gill, who worked closely with the family, especially Rihanna, through Pathway of Hope.

Rihanna dreamed of being a pilot. She wanted to go back to school, get her degree in aviation and support the family. Brass Hat Café (Carroll County Service Center) knew Rihanna would be the perfect candidate due to her motivation, hard work ethic, and driven nature. Scott was very supportive of his wife’s dream.

“She supported me all those years when I was in Afghanistan and now it’s my time to support her,” said Scott.

Pathway of Hope was able to  get Rihanna a Computer for her classes, and even paid for part of her tuition. When the family had auto expenses, Pathway of Hope paid for that and family meals, electric bills, and other related debts.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Ironically enough, she was close to graduating in December 2020. Because of the pandemic, Rihanna’s college closed and the aviation program ended. She needed to be in-person to do the flight simulation courses. She couldn’t do it because the school closed. She was also a straight-A student.

December of 2020 was also when she moved to West Virginia to live with Scott’s family. The house the family was renting in Carroll County was getting sold by the owner.

The emotional support from Brass Hat Café staff and Rihanna only grew stronger with each phone call. Distance didn’t break the bonds between this work family. The emotional support from Café staff and Gill, who worked so closely with her, prompted Rihanna to re-enroll back in school.

A year later, Rihanna graduated with honors in December 2021! Brass Hat Staff had a surprise visit from Rihanna that same month.

She said, “Without Carroll County Service center’s encouragement, she never would’ve graduated.” Rihanna appreciated the emotional support and says “Brass Hat Café” will always be a family to her.

 We first met Rihanna when she and her family received meals in 2019. And here she is now: A college graduate. Currently, she’s working on her Masters in Aviation. Her dream is to be a pilot.

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