What inspired you to do the work that you do/motivates you today?
“Eight years ago, my husband and I found ourselves living in a motel with three of our four children. We were both working, but most times there was more month than money. When school started for our then first and eighth graders, we couldn’t afford to purchase school uniforms. There is a program offered through Irving Independent School District called Project PASS that we qualified for, but they were only able to provide two uniforms per semester, and they only helped our youngest child. We were very appreciative, but, realistically, we knew that we would have to purchase uniforms soon. I started this organization because I remember what it feels like to be a parent and feel inadequate because I was doing everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. The children are the immediate beneficiaries of our services, but the parents are our true clients. I want to make sure that parents know that we are here to help them.”
How did you get to where you are and what challenges did/do you face?
“Where am I? LOL. I am where God wants me to be right now. I got to this place after going through lots of twists and turns. I have faced some scrutiny from my family and friends when I seemed to be floating along. They were not able to understand why I couldn’t find a ‘regular’ job and retire from that place. Even my husband was confused for a while, especially when I said I had to quit my job because they wouldn’t work with my schedule for delivering clothes to children in need. He eventually came around, as has everyone else.
“Challenges, learning to run an NPO with a high school diploma. Learning how to roam in the circles that I need to be in. Being the new kid on the block, being a young black woman in a predominantly Hispanic part of town that is run by mostly older white men and is full of orgs that have been around for years.”
Who is your she-ro?
“Honestly, I have more than one. And I think that means I’m surrounded by greatness. My mom Wanda Carter is my she-ro because she didn’t let having a child at 14 define who she was destined to be. My godmother Veree Kilby is my she-ro because she has to be one of the strongest women I know. She does whatever she puts her mind to. My grandmother Ella Buhl because she oozes class and grace even when she wants to crawl in a hole. My mentor Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew for the constant reminder that sharing the knowledge is more than okay. I don’t have one who embodies everything, I have several.”
What does the term”UGauGrrl” (“you go girl”) mean to you?
“This term has always been a term of endearment in my opinion. One that allows women to encourage each other, push one another and sometimes propel my sisters to the next level.”
“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed.” – Misty Copeland
Learn more about Shawana and Carter’s House:
Do you know a #ModernMuse who has an amazing story to tell? Send us her story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to know her: 1) Name, 2) Age if under 25, 3) Ethnicity, 4) Location, 5) Relationship to you, 6) Why you think she is a #ModernMuse (what is she doing or has she done to make Inspire, Empower, Impact the world or the community around her?). We’ll let you both know when we’d like to publish her story, send her a few more questions and will share it on our social media channels. Looking forward to your submissions!