Ala Gates’ Share A Life Foundation – making a difference in the community
January 12, 2012
by Shirley Demus Tarpley
Ms. Ala Gates, Founder and CEO of Share A Life Foundation officially started in January, 2009. The 501(c)(3) organization began to farther extend compassion and practical assistance to all people facing today’s challenges by encouraging and ensuring them that opportunities for growth and development is available to everyone.
Gates was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi; it has a population of approximately 17,500 and is said to be the original birthplace and World Capital of the Blues. It is also the location of the famous Crossroads intersection of Highway 61 and 49. Three of Gates’ role-models are her mother, Donna Gates, who raised her and resides in Jackson, Mississippi and her grandparents, Mary & Herbert Quinn; has also been a big influence on her life. Mary and Herbert reside in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Gates’ stated, “I love my mother and grandparents so much. There is nothing in this world that I would not do for them. They have always stuck with me through thick and thin and supported me through it all. It is such a blessing to have people that care about YOU just as much as you care for yourself. I want to make them proud and honor them by giving back to the community.”
Gates graduated from The International Business Academy at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas in 2006. When she completed High School she had received 30 college credit hours from Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, Texas. She earned these credits taking evening, weekend and summer school courses. Gates also took the entrance exam to Brookhaven College in the 10th grade at the age of 16 and entered as a dual credit student. Also, she attended Champions School of Real Estate in 2007 and is now currently a student at University of North Texas.
Through the years Gates has loved giving; it’s something that her mother instilled in her. She loved watching her mom give to the less fortunate and taking her to homeless shelters as a young girl so that she could learn the true value of life. When Gates was 18 she decided that she wanted to do something big; she started giving a tremendous amount of time to the community. Later, she went to her mother and asked for help in how to help the community. With her mother’s advice and help Gates decided she wanted to start a non-profit organization to help the homeless, underprivileged families with children, senior citizens and at-risk youth.
Gates stated, “My goal is to touch as many hearts as I can. I want people to feel the love I have in my family that they may not have. Love gives strength and confidence. I just want to help the communities around the world in any way I can.”
Before founding her own organization, Gates volunteered for the Girl Scouts of America, Special Olympics, American Heart Association, Scottish Rite Hospital, etc.
Gate’s dream is to invest in Individuals, help build strong families, encourage healthy communities and provide hope to children and youth. Her favorite quote is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” By Maya Angelou.
Share A Life Foundation started a new facility in Jackson, MS on April 1, 2011; it is a foundation which is successful and active in the community. “Mr. Shandell Henderson, Director of Special Events, has done a great job of exposing the community to different ways to help the underprivileged and youth excel,” Gates said.
Events have included school supply give-a-ways, community events for children and their families that included free food, games, horseback riding, motorcycle rides, etc.
Share A Life Foundation has had several fundraising events for local dance teams, 8th grade ball for a local public school, a Holiday Rodeo, food and gift drive for under-privileged families, and they hosted a Walk for Blood Cancer to educate the community on the different types of blood cancer.
In Texas, Share A Life Foundation has been going to different organizations and shelters with their volunteers giving of their time. Also, this past year they hosted their 2nd Annual Holiday Food and Gift Drive. Share A Life has also been adopting families through the year.
Gates would like to open up a full service center for Share A Life and homeless shelter in the near future in the Dallas Metroplex area as well as become a motivational speaker full time to youths with a message to let them know that you are never too young to make a difference.
Share a Life Foundation mission is to be committed to ensuring that opportunities for growth and development are available to everyone by working with them to define and solve the problems they face today; while creating real and lasting changes for our communities. They provide the tools for people to live happier and healthier lives.
Their purpose is to raise awareness of the way of life and the challenges adults and youth encounter. This is a charitable organization that exists for and is responsible to the community it serves, recognizing that people are individuals with changing needs. It seeks innovative approaches that are accessible and responsive, emphasizing each person’s wholeness and uniqueness.
“Share A Foundation is a comprehensive program for the underprivileged that goes beyond the provision of services within its own community and attempts to affect changes within society that lead toward a fuller life for all people. Education, training, and research are important aspects of improving the quality of life and should be carried out in a manner that recognizes and respects an individual’s privacy, dignity and lifestyle,” Gates said.
Share A Life is committed to excellence through teamwork, recognizing that open and effective communication is essential for board and staff effectiveness and to ensure they are aware of and able to meet the needs of their clients.
The foundation operates under the philosophy that they are responsible for helping communities. They believe that life is precious and magnificent and that they were put on this earth for more than just survival. People have the birthright to love, to prosper, to grow, and to learn more than what it means to live. The organization strives to make people aware that they deserve to be free and deserve to recognize and experience their hidden gifts.
Some services they provide are workshops, career days/continuing education, mentors, community service, canned food drives, scholarships for elementary through college. Fundraisers, tutors, disaster relief programs, and physically disabled citizen services are also provided. They have programs for at risk youth and low income families along with emergency community support services, resource referral programs, and much more.
Volunteer are always needed for Share A Life Foundation, Inc. because they are the men, women, and children who confirm and endorse our goals and dreams. The organization touches a wide variety of human and family needs. In life, there are moments when an individual or family must reach beyond themselves for support, help, and understanding. Volunteering is ultimately about helping others taking part in impacting people’s welfare and happiness. What better way is there to connect with your community and give something back? People and societies co-depend on each other for survival.
Gates said, “The benefits of being a volunteer increases your base of experience for future employment, it opens doors for career considerations. It helps you develop personal skills while helping others. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, volunteers can complete requirements for school and develops new friendships.”