At UWATX we know one single story can inspire thousands to give back, united our community and offer hope.
This year, we’re telling stories of individuals who, at one point or another, received services/support from UWATX and now give back in dollars or time. Their stories prove that ANYONE can be a philanthropist.
Most recently, I sat down with Shantel Tharps, a middle school teacher, whose story inspired me beyond belief.
When did you receive support from United Way and what did it help with?
When I went off to college in the fall of 1990, I had twin daughters with me, no car and finances were tight. During my second semester my girls and I moved into family housing on my campus and United Way helped my find quality child care and even helped me pay for it. It made it possible for me to bring my daughters with me to college rather than leaving them with their grandparents.
Did that experience have a lasting impact on you and your family? If so, how?
Yes it did! I was able to make it through those seasons of life with the help of United Way!
The child care United Way helped us pay for was more of a learning center with high school mentors for the kids. I remember the ones that helped my girls really made them feel special and took an active part in all they did. We still have the little farewell apple she made them when they ‘graduated’ from her class.
The help I received from United Way kept my family together and helped me to transition out of my home situation, which was not always positive and it most definitely was not one that would have supported a lifelong love of growth and learning in my children.
My daughters were introduced early on to a quality learning environment, which I believe in part helped them to develop their curiosity to want to always know more! My girls have since graduated high school with honors, graduated college with honors and now, completing their first year of teaching with honors!! Both of them were named “Best New Teacher” and “Teacher of Promise” at their different campus in AISD for 2012-2013. They have also begun a master’s program and plan to continue on to get their PhDs!
I totally believe that life could have turned out very different for them had they not been exposed to and participated in the different learning environments they were exposed to thanks to the United Way.
What do you do now to support United Way?
To support UW now, I recommend it to individuals that I come in contact with who would benefit from its services. We, as a family donate time and finances when possible to United Way.
What else would you like to share about your situation?
Just that I really believe that God placed this program in my life at a time when I needed it most and had no idea how to achieve the goal of completing college that I had set for myself after I had my girls as such an early age. I was in place that gave me the help that I needed to come out of the embarrassment & disappointment that I was experiencing and take advantage of what someone else gave!