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Full house, full heart
Extraordinary grandparents work hard to fulfill dreams
Front, left to right: Lamonte Scott, Geneva Scott, daughter Akelah Dent. Back, l eft to right: Grandchildren Halee Dent, 11, Matthew Dent, 8, Sierra Dent, 5. - photo by Michelle Kim

Writer J.G. Holland once said, "God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest." Lamonte and Geneva Scott are examples of Holland’s words. By determination and faith, the two have taken their seeds and harvested good fortune for themselves and others.

Each week, Lamonte Scott operates his own Conyers-based law office - Lamonte E. Scott & Associates. The business handles catastrophic/personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. On Sundays, however, Lamonte trades in his suit for a robe as pastor of Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Conyers.

At one point, Lamonte’s work in the pulpit and the courtroom consumed only two-thirds of his professional time. In 2006, with 34 years of service, he retired from the federal government as assistant special agent-in-charge with the Office of Inspector General Investigations.

One may ask what motivates a man so busy.

"I love helping people who are hurt and who need someone competent to assist them during their time of need," he said. "In fact, the practice of law reminds me much of [being a pastor] - helping people who are in need."

But Lamonte isn’t the only one in his household pursuing goals. His wife, Geneva, has drive too. She graduated from Mercer University in May with a bachelor’s in human services, minor in criminal justice. She currently assists her husband in expanding the ministries of Grace Missionary Church.

"I … had always dreamed of graduating from college," she reminisces. "When I got married, my focus then became my family. But during all those years, I always promised myself that one day I [would] get my degree."

Many years ago, Geneva attended Fort Valley State College in the middle borough of the state. After a couple of quarters, she dropped out. "I didn’t have the money to pay for books, room and board or even to pay for food," she recalled.

The second time around presented a few hurdles for Geneva as well.

"The most difficult thing for me to do was to convince myself that I could finish if I could just learn how to stop doubting myself and my abilities and learn how to focus," she said.

Geneva’s journey back to college wasn’t an easy road for Lamonte to travel either. Married for 30 years, he was used to the special treatment of having a wife at home. But he willingly adjusted and was proud of her determination to go back to school.

"I missed her being there taking care of all the things she had always taken care of," he recalls. "[Geneva] had me so spoiled that it was hard to come home and she not be there or dinner wasn’t ready. How I managed was to stop being selfish and complaining and learned how to pitch in and help with the things that she had always handled."

But what makes Lamonte and Geneva accomplished isn’t just a successful church, law office and completion of a college degree. For the last three years, the couple has been instrumental in raising their three grandchildren, ages 5, 8 and 11. Lamonte and Geneva have been working with their daughter to help her get her life back on track since she and her husband separated.

When the Scott’s household expanded, the couple literally started over with parenting. Geneva described her experience as a college student. "Finding time to study, and getting ready for class while cooking for the kids and helping them with homework, [was] most challenging," she said.

But despite the hurdles, Geneva and Lamonte consider the experience a blessing. Her advice for grandparents: "Love them as much as you can. Give them all the love and nurturing that you can give," she said. "Teach them how to become responsible big people. Hang out with them at the movies, eat pizza, have fun with them - constantly reminding them that they can grow up to be whatever they want to become."