We’re HERE To HELP (WHTH) is an outgrowth of the New Jersey based Sherman Hargroves Educational Support Fund (SHESF), which was founded in 1999. Brenda Weathers Hargroves established SHESF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, in memory of her late husband, Sherman Hargroves. Sherman, a strong believer in education, completed the requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the age of 48. Furthering his career was not his focus. His sole purpose for gaining higher education was to study a subject that fascinated him.
Brenda found Sherman’s accomplishment admirable, as she had been taught that one went to college to better the chances of getting a good job and gaining the ability to pursue other professional opportunities. In honor of Sherman’s achievement and philosophy about learning, Brenda decided to actively encourage young people to secure a college degree.
College retentions rates are of major concern. Many students are accepted into colleges and universities; however, for personal and/or financial reasons, they do not graduate. Students from middle or high income families or those with exceptional grades are more likely to succeed in a college setting. Therefore, Brenda chose to target high school and college students with average grades from low-to-moderate income households.
Initially, SHESF provided annual book scholarships. Continuous support was one of the organization’s major objectives, so funding was renewable for up to five years. Over 90% of the 50 youth SHESF supported graduated. Many of the others went on to seek employment or attend graduate school. SHESF’s goal was to offer encouragement to 50 students throughout their college careers. One young lady earned her Master’s in Social Work and started her own nonprofit organization. Another student became a teacher, also furthered her education by earning her Masters and is currently working to become a principal.
After two years of granting scholarships, SHESF met with recipients to determine what other assistance they would find beneficial. The Integrated Training for Personal Advancement and Youth Success (IT PAYS) program was developed as a result. In addition to giving financial support, the IT PAYS program facilitates life skills workshops and seminars and provides other forms of mentoring.
To continue the work begun in New Jersey, SHESF has changed its name to We’re HERE To HELP and recruited its first cohort of IT PAYS Scholars in 2013.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.