Helping teens reach their potential
Wendy learned the importance of giving back at a young age. Now she helps kids finish high school.
I came home from school one day and my mom was in the kitchen. I looked in the living room and noticed our couch was missing.
I looked at my mom and said, ‘What happened to the sofa?’ She said, ‘You should ask your dad.’
It turned out that my dad had learned about a parent in our school who had fled an abusive situation in her home. She and her kids had found a new place to live, but they didn’t have any furniture. So he came home and loaded up our sofa—one of those big sectionals—put it in the back of the truck, and took it over to her place.
This wasn’t the only time something went missing from our house because my dad was helping someone. That story stayed with me throughout the years. My dad’s example sent an important message to me at a young age: When people need help, we help them. That’s the house I grew up in.
I first became involved with United Way through a campaign in my workplace. I was looking for different ways to get involved in the community and met with a United Way staff member. She said, ‘I know exactly what I’m going to connect you with.’
I went to an initial meeting and heard a couple of amazing speakers talk about the work United Way was doing in the community, including some of the work they were doing with vulnerable youth to help them finish high school.
I thought, ‘This is exactly the room I need to be in right now.’
Providing support to young people—through things like food programs and counselling—allows them to focus on school, and that is such an important step. Completing high school is a big gateway into so many other things in life. That support is crucial to help kids realize their potential.
If we can unleash that untapped potential in our community, the world’s going to change. All it takes is, ‘Yeah, I’m in’.