Simply Helping Foundation is a non-profit organization started to help college students. Our mission is to provide non-monetary support to college students living on campus. Our care packages include personal toiletries and school supplies. We host an annual Back2School drive in Houston, TX. What sets us apart from other back-to school drives is we are one of only two organizations that hosts school supply drives for college students. Any school grade kids can get supplies from all over the city, but we tend to forget that college students need the most help because they are also struggling to pay for tuition and fees. Helping college students has been in my blood for three generations. My mother, Nai Whitaker, and grandmother, Vernita Belcher, both made care packages for college students. I just took it one step further, and turned my organization into a 501C3 to be able to go further and help more students.
I've always wanted to help the community in some type of way because I felt like God did not put me on earth just to work and pay bills. My mother, Nai Whitaker, owns a successful tax firm. I have watched her help people for years. I said to myself "When I become successful and wealthy, I will give back as well." I had yet to realize being successful and wealthy had nothing to do with my ability to give back. In Aug. 2013, my little cousin Jeremy went off to college in Austin. His tuition was $40,000 for his first year, and he still needed items for his dorm room. I felt so bad for Aunt having to come up with so much money. I decided to help pay for some of the necessities for his dorm room. In December 2013 my grandmother, Vernita Belcher, died. At her funeral, the preacher spoke about how Sis. Vernita would never let a college student go to school without providing them with a care package. My grandmother was never a wealthy woman. She was a beautician that worked from her house for over 55 years. I lived with my grandmother for years, and did not know she made care packages. At that very moment, at my grandmother's funeral, it hit me like a lighting bolt....you don't have to be rich in order to help people. In January 2014, I started my organization Simply Helping Foundation. We initially just started with college students I personally knew and the students from my church Trinity Gardens Church. We took it a step further the following year and started attending high school college fairs to reach the outgoing seniors. At Spring ISD College Fair is where I met Tiffannie Jones, founder of The JCS Project. We met and discovered we are the only two organizations in Houston who's mission is providing care packages to college students. Both of our organizations grew even bigger because we started taking our help on the road. We have given out over 1000+ care packages to college students all over Texas and Louisiana. For the most part, I fund the organization with my own earnings. Over the years as my organization has grown, I have gotten more support from the public. We have recently received our very first grant from the Ivy League & Educational Charities Foundation (ILECF). We are so grateful, and I know this is just the beginning of what God has in store for us.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS / ACCOLADES / AWARDS:
Our organization is fairly young, but we have reached some amazing milestones. Our first was being invited to Texas Southern University in 2016 to give out school supplies and personal toiletries to students on campus. That was an exciting feeling to see the appreciation and love from the students. Another milestone was making it to the University Of North Texas to hand out 100 free care packages of food to students on Preview Day. This was our first time helping students outside of Houston. In November 2018, our organization received our very first grant from Ivy League & Educational Charities Foundation (ILECF) for $1,000. Because of this blessing, we were able to reach another milestone. In January 2019 we were able to deliver 75 care packages full of school supplies and toiletries to students at Grambling University. This was our first time delivering large care packages to students outside of Houston, The travel expense associated with delivering a large load is expensive which is why we have not been able to do it previously. Usually when we travel outside of Houston we are delivering care packages of food instead of school supplies and personal toiletries.
I have several ways of relaxing. Mainly I travel and see the world to learn more about people. You get to see the uniqueness in people when you travel outside of your comfort zone. I like learning about the different cultures and trying new adventures that are not available to me in Houston. When relaxing at home I watch movies, read, and work on jigsaw puzzles. I love movie night with my two boys. All of us are big movie buffs. We will stay up all night taking turns picking the movies. It's an awesome way for us to have family time while we joke and laugh about the movies. I have loved reading since I was little. I feel like the more you read, the more knowledge you have, and knowledge is power. For so long black people were not allowed to read, and now I read as much as I can. Putting together jigsaw puzzles is the ultimate mind workout, but it also relaxes me. I never complete the same puzzle twice. Once I complete, I glue it, and store it. Completing the puzzles gives me confidence in knowing that I can figure out any problem that comes my way. It also relaxes me because I usually zone out once I've started a puzzle. Being able to solve my own issues is something I'm very proud of myself for. My favorite thing that relaxes me is music. I love music. Music can change my entire mood in an instant. Especially if I am having a challenging day. I listen to R&B, a little bit of rap (mainly early 90's), pop, gospel, and I've recently gotten into country in the last year or so.
Our organization is constantly setting goals and making plans to meet those goals. As of right now the organization is mainly supported by myself, LaNai'. One of our goals is start receiving more grants to allow the organization to reach more students. The goal is for the organization to be supported fully by the public. Another main goal is start hosting an annual Back2School drive in another state while still continuing our annual drive in Houston. We are really shooting to host a Back2School Drive in New Orleans within the next 2 years. Our final goal is start traveling further out to help college students. As of right now we can only afford to travel to close states such as Louisiana and Mississippi. We would eventually like to make our way up north and to Georgia.
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