Success story wants to give back

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2001

NATCHEZ – Sonya Holiday Prater learned early in life to stay with a dream until it came true.

Now with a family and her own day care business in Chicago, she hopes that she can give back to a community that helped her achieve success.

&uot;I grew up at Holiday Apartments,&uot; said Prater, a 1987 graduate of North Natchez High School. &uot;I received encouragement from my teachers and counselors and from my church, the Bright Star Baptist Church.&uot;

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From high school, Prater moved to Illinois to live with an aunt while she continued her education at Triton College in River Grove, Ill.

&uot;I got a degree in child care from there and I’ve been working with children ever since,&uot; she said. &uot;I knew I wanted to be a teacher of some kind.&uot;

A $1,000 assist from the Chicago Club helped to pay for her college education, she said.

&uot;I know it may not sound like much, but it was, and I didn’t even know the people who gave it to me,&uot; Prater said. &uot;Someday I’d like to do the same thing for another person who might need that help.&uot;

Her own children, Kyle, 9, and Anastasia, 3, are a joy to her, she said. She brings them to Natchez in mid-summer and also for the Christmas holidays.

&uot;I show them the schools I attended and the field where I performed as a Ramselle,&uot; she said. &uot;I take them to the bluff where we used to line up for the Christmas parade.&uot;

Giving her children the chance to see where she grew up and to meet their cousins who live in Natchez – and especially to spend time with grandmothers Annie Holiday and Mary Prater – is important to her.

She wants them to see Southern hospitality first-hand and learn what it’s all about, she said.

&uot;People in Chicago know I’m from the South,&uot; she said. &uot;The hospitality you show is different in the South, and I let my light shine. I rub off on people and see them warming up to me.&uot;

The holidays have been special for the family this year, she said.

&uot;I’ve really enjoyed everything, especially getting to go shopping with my sister, Debra.&uot;

Kyle said he likes to see all the relatives. &uot;I have fun with my cousins and going by my grandma’s house.&uot;