At YWCA we know that we would not be able to do what we do without the support of our community. That’s one of the reasons we love shining the spotlight on individuals who embody the values of commitment, service, respect, diversity, and teamwork.
Tanisha Harris, CASA Program Specialist at YWCA Clark County knows one such individual very well: Her mom, Karen Harris who in January started organizing a monthly giving drive for YWCA’s SafeChoice shelter, Y's Care program, Independent Living Skills program, and our multiple support groups.
“My mom has always had a caring heart, and a lot of compassion and empathy for people” Tanisha says, “She taught my brothers and me at an early age that charity begins at home. This year she wanted to do something that was meaningful and made an impact year round.”
Karen Harris says she first started to really think about giving back on a grander scale this past November. “I got to thinking that everyone is always so generous during the holiday season, but what happens after that? The donations are down, but the need is still there.”
After consulting with her daughter, Karen was surprised to discover just how many programs YWCA sponsors, particularly those that aid children, and decided to collect various goods each month to help support them.
Karen admits she was not quite sure how to get others involved at first. In January she told family members, and posted the idea to her Facebook account. The theme for January was canned goods. With the help of family and friends, Karen collected 136 cans of food to donate to YWCA!
Karen has since collected over 800 food and beverage items for families, youth and children served by YWCA! She’s also collected clothing items for infants and children, and in the coming months has plans to collect school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste and and other oral hygiene products.
Since February, Karen has been using the website Nextdoor.com to inform people in the area about her giving calendar. She has also reached out to her neighborhood and 10 nearby neighborhood associations, with plans to expand even more in January. She has been overwhelmed by the support she has gotten within her community, and in particular at the kindness of strangers. She admits she probably only knows “about half” of the people who have participated in these drives, and has a donation box set up outside her home for people to leave supplies anonymously.
“That is probably the most rewarding thing for me,” Karen says, “that people are willing to help those in need. One time I checked the box and found 7 boxes of Cheerios - I actually cried seeing them. I thought to myself, this is the way it should be, people helping each other. We all need to keep in mind that at any given time it could be us that is in need of help.”
The only regret Karen has is that because so many donations are made anonymously, she’s unable to thank every person who contributed. Karen exudes humility when discussing her efforts, noting, “My faith leads me to believe that we are to help the underserved. I am just one person in this project. I only organized it, but it is the community that is making all of this possible, and I am so thankful to each one of them.”
We at YWCA are also thankful to everyone who has contributed, and to Karen for having the determination and spirit to put this all together.