“If you want to be remembered, do something memorable.”

Charity Matters wants you to get to know these inspirational people that will be remembered for their remarkable gifts of compassion to those in need. Theresa Gartland is exactly that, remarkable Here are her answers to Charity Matter’s Questionnaire.

What Charity Matters to you?

Urban Compass, of course!

What or who inspires you?

My students inspire me every day!  Even though they live in a very violent and depressing neighborhood, they are the most resilient, positive, happy children I have ever met. They have a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire to succeed; they cherish every moment they are at Urban Compass.  They are risk takers – they want to explore and you can feel their excitement the minute they step into the UC van because they know they are going on an adventure they have never been on, exploring a new community, learning more about what life has to offer.  They don’t take for granted what for most of us are everyday experiences.

When did you realize that you made a difference?

It’s in the little moments that you realize you are making a difference in these children’s lives. It’s when they give you a hug and hold you tight and won’t let go.  It’s when you see them quietly working on their homework, striving to be their best.  It’s when a student says, “Thanks Ms. G- I want to be a good person when I grow up and stay out of trouble, just like you.”  When a teacher, principal or parent lets me know the student’s math or reading scores are improving because of Urban Compass.  It’s when I get home at night and reflect on the day, thinking about the smiles I saw, the laughter I heard, and the hugs I received; and the tears I cry are coming from a place of compassion, knowing that we have provided a place for these children to create positive childhood memories that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

If you could get everyone to do one small act of kindness, what would it be?

I don’t know if this is an act of kindness but a small thing we all can do is to validate each other more.  Whether you are 8, 28, or 48 years old, you still want to hear that you are doing the right thing, that you are a good person, and that you are making good decisions in life. I see it all the time with the students I work with:  they want approval, they want recognition, and they want to know that they are ok.  I am constantly looking at each one of them in the eyes and saying “I’m proud of you!”  Those words are so powerful, so meaningful.  The students respond with a smile and you can see new confidence in their eyes.  We don’t tell our friends, partners, spouses, children, parents, students, and co-workers often enough that we are proud of them.

What is your motto?

“The best thing you can do is help those who want to be helped.”

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