Actions Not Words: Theresa Gartland '99 Continues to Give Back
Theresa Gartland '99 is Executive Director at Operation Progress LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth to become educated, capable, ethical and productive people who will in turn lead, mentor and contribute to society at large. Theresa was featured as a guest blogger on www.charity-matters.com, here is her post.
As I am embarking on my 15th year of working in Watts in South Los Angeles and serving the youth of the community, I cannot help but reflect on what keeps me energized and going, of course two words…the kids! Everyday, I’m so grateful that I get to fulfill my life purpose by provide the most incredible, life-changing opportunity for some of the most deserving youth.
Attending Holy Child, I was taught the values of giving back through Action not Words. This rang true for me during my high school service trips to an afterschool program in Southeast DC. During my service, I would play with the children, help them with their homework, and spend time getting to know they.
I quickly learned that they only difference between them and me was our neighborhood, and they were just as deserving as all the opportunities I was given. It was my actions that were making an impact. Through service and volunteering I had found my voice, it sparked my passion but I no idea it would ignite my career.
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned through my work is that each child deserves to feel safe, validated and know that someone is proud of them. This has become my mission, to make sure every student feels apart of something bigger than themselves, to feel validated, nurtured, and empowered.
My biggest success thus far, has been watching two girls that I have known since they were in 2nd grade, now sophomores at an all girls catholic high school, flourishing and succeeding. To be apart of their journey and see how OP has literally changed their life trajectory has been of the biggest rewards of my career.
It’s truly been a joy, honor and privilege to work at amazing schools and organizations in the Watts community that are so committed to inspiring, fostering and developing the youth. Being able to be there for a children, to motivate, challenge, and encourage them is no short of a miracle.