“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give,” famous words once spoken by Winston Churchill.

And it’s a quote that completely embodies the heart and spirit of Darlena Moore, President of the Gilbert Scholarship, Inc., who continues to support students at Robeson Community College and across North Carolina.

Moore stopped by the RCC Foundation on Tuesday to personally give two $1500 scholarships to two students, one to Ravon (Brenda) Jones and another to Khira Thompson.

But this wasn’t her first trip to Lumberton.

Last summer she made the drive from Wilmington to provide scholarships to two other students, Amanda Meares and Riley Scott, both receiving $1500 as well.

Moore is making a life by what she gives – hope, encouragement, and inspiration – by paying it forward to those who have been in foster care.

“The numbers don’t ever seem to go down,” said Moore. “There are 438,000 kids in the foster care system right now, and it can be really discouraging to know that only 3% of those youth will ever graduate from college.”

That’s why Moore started the Mountain Girl Initiative, and the Dick and Mary Gilbert Scholarship, to help those who were in foster care complete college and to make a difference.

“A lot of it is just the support they don’t receive,” said Moore. “It’s all the things like, I ran out of money on my dining card, I need housing, I need a car. All the things that keep you in college.”

Moore knows firsthand what it’s like to be in foster care and the struggles that endure even after becoming an adult and leaving the system.

“I waited tables until 3 in the morning to get through college, so I know part of the journey that these kids are on, and how hard it is, and how much they are overcoming, so I think that’s why I do it. I want to see those numbers change. I see amazing potential that is just not being tapped into.”

After losing her mother at a young age, Moore was placed in foster care and went through several homes until she ended up at the house of Dick and Mary Gilbert, hence the name of the scholarship.

“Dick and Mary added so much beauty and purpose to my life,” said Moore. “The Gilberts always drove home the words that many kids in foster care never hear, “You have a right to be here.”

Moore credits the Gilberts for helping guide her future and helping her with going to college.

“So, I started thinking, how can I be a Dick and Mary Gilbert to someone else,” and the idea for a scholarship was born.

“I started this scholarship by cooking granola out of my house, I didn’t know what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but I had a motto of like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing but something inside of me does,’ so I started cooking granola and selling it,“ said Moore.

“This past year with Covid and everything, I stopped cooking Granola. It was a really hard choice for me, but it just got really hard to have a food business and a non-profit,” said Moore. “I had worried if I was going to be able to have enough money coming in for the scholarship, but I have been blessed with many good donors who have carried me through without the sale of granola.”

“So, I have been trying to get out more to tell the story of how this scholarship started and what it means, and hopefully I will have more people come forward and donate just based on the story.”

For Ravon Jones, a business administration student at RCC, the scholarship was a surprise that she was not expecting.

“I’m very grateful,” said Jones. “I just decided that I want to give back to whoever came after me, this has meant so much to me, so I’m going to keep paying it forward too.”

After she graduates, Jones hopes to one day work with non-profits.

“It’s one of my main goals,” said Jones. “I want to make a difference and to help people, just like Ms. Moore is doing.”

For Khira Thompson, a nursing student, receiving the scholarship was an honor and also a chance to heal.

“I’m grateful that I got to share my story today because I haven’t talked about it for a long time,” said Thompson. “I was in the foster care system for 2 years, I had been in multiple homes until my Grandma got guardianship of me.”

Khira plans on transferring to UNC Pembroke or Fayetteville State University upon completing her studies at RCC.

“We are so incredibly proud of both of you, and so honored that you chose Robeson Community College to help you on your journey, because your journey is now our journey, and we are so appreciative to be a part of it,” RCC President Melissa Singler told the students during the ceremony. “You are both going to do great things in life. I see greatness in your future.”

Singler continued by telling Moore, “You are family, and we are so appreciative of what you do for our students. It is not just a scholarship, it is education, and you are bringing to light a very serious problem in our society.”

Jessica Bullard, the director of the RCC Foundation, added to those sentiments, saying, “We appreciate this scholarship, we appreciate you supporting us. You continue to support our students and we are thankful for all that you have done.”

Moore says that she came back to Robeson Community College because statistically, Robeson County has one of the highest rates of children in foster care, but that wasn’t the only reason.

“You have such a wonderful staff, both Financial Aid and the Foundation,” said Moore. “I have been really blessed to work with them. They are really receptive because sometimes I call and I say ‘I need you to find me a student,’ so they have been so nice about identifying students, and just welcoming me and just nurturing what I do.”

For Moore, the joy in giving scholarships is not just about seeing students succeed but helping each student know that every story can be re-written.

“Don’t let anyone else write your story,” said Moore during the scholarship presentation. “I know what it is like to be a foster child because I was one…. from this day forward, just know that you get to write your own story.”

Anyone that is interested in helping to support Moore’s effort of the Dick and Mary Gilbert Scholarship, either through donations or by volunteering your time, can do so by visiting her website at