I started ShareTheWill from my experience of being the product of a foster child in the 1960s. I bounced around from one foster care center, or family, to another. This experience was more than unbearable, it was plainly awful. I never felt like I fit in or belonged anywhere. All I had left was anger and pain. It wasn’t until I was adopted by my mother, father, and sister that I understood what a real family of love meant. Since my adoption, I have committed myself to being a part of families (U.S. Army) that protect and defend our fundamental rights to being treated as human beings deserving of love and belonging.
Since my retirement from the U.S. Army, I have joined groups such as: SERTOMA of Round Rock, LIONS Club, Round Rock Greater Community Foundation, and many more. I have become fully invested in building bridges and partnerships with fellow community members for the sake of helping even one child who feels the anger and pain I felt as a child. I want to lead by example to these young individuals that there is a better way than pain and anger. To show them they haven’t been forgotten. With the help of the community, I know we have already changed the lives of so many. I am forever hopeful we will continue to do so
Through a series of fortunate connections, I met 1st Sgt Will Williams in 2011. I had moved to Texas in 2008 after graduating from Central Michigan University with a Social Studies degree I was passionate about; yet, unsure how to use it in practice. During this 3-year gap before I met Will, I had been trying to find my place in Austin and searching for a purpose. Like many young adults after they graduate college, I was dealing with my fair of struggles after moving half-way across the country. I wondered: how do I make friends, what can I do for others, and how do I find belonging in this new community?
After meeting Will, seeing his attitude and dedication to go beyond the impossible in building grassroot community projects, I had to make a leap of faith and start a journey down an unknown and unfamiliar path. In my first year with ShareTheWill, the journey was about showing up to community events to serve others and leaving excuses at the door. My first volunteer event was with the SERTOMA Christmas tree event that was organized to raise money for Dell’s Children Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. After 4 hours of lifting and tying down Christmas trees to cars, every muscle in my body ached but I was hooked.
The soreness of that first event faded, but what didn’t fade was finally feeling a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. I couldn’t wait to experience more of this feeling. I asked Will “what’s next?”. And after each event, each activity, and each person I was able to engage with, I kept asking Will, “What’s next?”
“Next” has turned into giving that same feeling of joy, love, and belonging through service to our Military Veterans, students at the Texas School for the Deaf and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and kids who families who might be financially struggling.
When I think back to that day when I first met Will, it brings both a warm smile and a shiver down my back when I wonder, ‘What if we had never crossed paths?” As President of ShareTheWill, my goal is to continue building bridges between the community events and those who are searching for their own purpose, community and belonging like I did many years ago.
I first came to know Will Williams through our neighborhood association more than 15 years ago. We were having trouble in the neighborhood and looking to do something about it. Seeing the results of Will’s leadership and organization in action in resolving our neighborhood issue; my young children and I began working on other community projects with Will such as the Sertoma Christmas Tree lot and the 4th of July Parade.
I began filming and posting live feeds of these events to give a bird’s eye view of how many people come together into Share the Will’s projects. Without the love and support from dozens of other organizations and groups; these projects would not be as successful. It might be cliché, yet true, showing up is the first step that is most important. Being there is an unspoken message of showing love and compassion for others.
I am honored to serve alongside dedicated individuals and have been a part of the Share the Will Foundation for over 15 years. The time spent volunteering has deepened the bond with my youngest daughter Reignbow. Volunteering with Share the Will is a big part of Reignbow and Daddy life adventures. I intend to continue to document and show how a small group of hard-working individuals of any age can truly make an impact in the Round Rock-Austin-Cedar Park communities.
My call to service has been deep-rooted in me since I was a girl scout many years ago. Now that I am retired, I try to find projects or ways to simply help out a community I have fallen in love with since moving to Round Rock, Texas, in the early 2000s. When I first met Will Williams, I could finally see what all the hype was about in a man whose heart never seemed too big or unwilling to stop.
As I began to call Will my friend, I wanted to join in on any project that I could with him. One of my favorite events is serving pancakes at the Texas School for the Deaf. I think we must have served over a 1000 breakfast plates to dozens of smiling, heartwarming adults and children
Knowing the pancake breakfast project, as well as many others, do help raise funds that have an immediate and fruitful impact to the local community is what the Share the Will Foundation does well. What I mostly love is feeling the warmth and joy of being around others who are also willing to give a hand up with a smile.
I am originally from Oak Ridge, Louisiana, born and raised. I have always felt a sense of independence even more so after attending the Louisiana Center for the Blind. With these newfound skills and confidence, I attended and graduated from Austin Community College with a degree in Early Childhood Development in 2006. I started my current career as a Residential Specialist with Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in winter of 2007. Having this position has demonstrated to my two children of what they can accomplish. In seeing them now as full, grown adults; I am proud of the educational degrees they have worked hard to earn.
I met Mr. Will Williams in 2016 at a TSBVI student council panel meeting in which he was a guest speaker. The energy and passion that he brought to students in showing them how they could have a positive impact was overwhelming. I was soon following Mr. Williams anywhere I could to be a part of that energy.
I understand the hardships that can come along with being blind. Without the help of organizations like Louisiana LIONS chapter when I was a kid, I honestly don’t know where I would be in life. I love being a part of the Share the Will foundation as it gives me the opportunity to fulfill my calling of helping kids like me to never feel alone and help them find a path forward in their own lives.
Will Williams first reached out to me for help getting his initial website launched. The more I worked with Share the Will and learned about the different projects they collaborated on in the community, the more interested I became in being a volunteer.
Having worked for several local nonprofits, I’ve seen firsthand the socioeconomic disparities in our community. In Will Williams I have seen someone who doesn't just talk about the problems in our community, he delivers solutions. Share the Will helps fill so many gaps in our community and in so many different ways. I am honored to know Will and to be a part of this team.