Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Family crisis launches woman into service

Hermitage entrepreneur takes her role helping Oasis Center personally By ANDY HUMBLES • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • April 9, 2008 The passion Genma Stringer Holmes has for the Oasis Center is very personal. The Hermitage woman was recognized recently as Non-Profit Board Member of the Year for 2006-07 by the Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services. The network represents more than 80 nonprofit organizations that serve youths and family. Holmes was also picked to travel to South Carolina in June to receive an award from Footman Brewer Foundation for her work with Oasis Center. The Oasis Center provides crisis intervention and leadership opportunities for youths. "What I admire so much is Genma used a life-altering experience for her family and then turned around to help us so we could offer the same kind of support her family received,'' said Oasis Center CEO and president Hal Cato. "A lot of times we help young people in times of major crisis and they move on, which is what we want them to do. Genma not only moved on, but has continued to say thank you for years." Holmes, 41, became involved with the Oasis Center about three years ago after her daughter, Alexis, ran away from home for a couple of weeks at age 13. Oasis helped Alexis, now 16, and the entire family get through that period and be better for it, according to Holmes. Three years later Genma's zeal has only increased. Last year, she signed more than 3,000 letters for the Oasis Center's Gathering Fund, which she led with Alexis. Genma is heading the Gathering Fund again this year and has already handwritten more than 500 personal notes. She has met with people from area churches, including the Family of God at Woodmont Hills, which the family attends. Family strives to set example Genma was familiar with Oasis Center before her family needed it. "I knew about Oasis and that was the best place to help her,'' Genma said of Alexis. "But they aren't just for youths in crisis. The Oasis Center helps youths to thrive. We experienced a crisis moment. But I'm all about prevention now.'' Genma has been married to Roger Holmes, 43, for about 22 years. They have three children, ages 22, 17 and 16. The couple have their own business, Holmes Pest Control, based in Hermitage. Often, Genma attends and speaks at different business conferences and conventions and isn't shy about dropping the Oasis Center name. "As a black person … we need to show African-American kids that owning your business and to expose them to the educational opportunities is within reach,'' Genma said. "My husband is the rock. Kids need to see the family as a unit.'' After Alexis ran away, she was found baby-sitting in another part of Nashville about two weeks later. It's not a time Alexis cares to talk about, but, because of the impact the Oasis Center had on her, she has stayed as involved as her mom. Alexis is also a successful entrepreneur, starting a business called Alexis' Famous Pies. She learned to bake when she took a culinary class her godfather taught at McGavock High School shortly after running away. In her business, Alexis has baked pies and made cakes for special events such as weddings and the Steeplechase. And for three years in November and December, Alexis has led an effort to bake pies for the Oasis Center. Help comes from other young people in the program as Alexis teaches, as well. Alexis sold about 2,500 pies and made more than $25,000 in each of the past two years, Genma said. "The Oasis Center helped teach me responsibility and character and how to communicate with my family,'' Alexis said.

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