We had the good fortune of connecting with Natasha Tennison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natasha, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
We’re a 501c3 nonprofit organization with three priorities: Youth, Family and Community. We support working parents to help bring hope to homes by offering quality, affordable afterschool programs at a reduced rate. Our programs serve K-7th grade students and are designed and directed to ensure that every student is growing socially, emotionally, and academically in a safe, loving, and inspiring environment. Building self-confidence, self-efficacy, and life skills are our mentoring agendas throughout the school year and summer.
We support youth and families through community partnerships, business support memberships, fundraisers, and grants that aid in our mission to enhance the quality of life, hope and wholeness for all. We also provide free therapy and life coaching for teens and adults in low-income families and free adult support groups to help relieve the stress and anxiety.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I worked at St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital as a Sr. Human Resource Specialist for seven incredible years. I earned an A.A. in Religion, B.S. in Communications, M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I/O), and I am currently working on my Ph.D. in I/O General Psychology. I am licensed by the State of Texas as a qualified Childcare Director, a certified Life and Career Coach, and a certified Master Neuro-Linguistic Programmer Practioner. The one thing that sets me apart from others is the uniqueness that God gave me. I am most proud of the positive impact that has been made in the lives of children, teens, and adults that I’ve encountered. I’ve had many days where I wanted to give up because it has not been easy keeping our program rates the same for over eight years, wearing multiple hats, and making so many sacrifices. There have been times I wanted to give up, but I am constantly reminded, by the Holy Spirit, that God has already predestined my life and journey; therefore, I am qualified and equipped for the job, and that is what keeps me going. I know without a doubt that God is with me. My goal is to always stay in a praying and learning position and be a strong resource for my family and community. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to let go of things and people who are not aligned with my values, vision, and mission. When it comes to my calling, I want the world to know that hope and wholeness come in many forms. Our way of giving hope and wholeness to all is through our afterschool youth programs, summer camps and workshops, family social and emotional support, and community togetherness through purposeful events that coral the community to love and support everyone.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to Pier 61 or Fish City for lunch because I love their seafood, and they have the best red beans and rice you’ll ever taste (besides my dad’s)! Then we’ll go to the container store (because I love to organize things), the Galleria (because I love to window shop), and At Home (because this place is super affordable when you have a budget). We’ll end the day with a nice dinner at Grazia’s Italian Kitchen in Pearland. Their food is terrific! I love to eat, so we’ll probably spend the whole trip finding places to eat at!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband is my everything. I can come up with a million ideas, and he’ll come up with a million ways to bring my ideas to reality. He is always by my side. My cousins Nikia and David have always around from the beginning to encourage, provide feedback, and a helping hand. My mom is also very supportive in being a listening ear and excellent advisor. My fabulous in-laws can always be found helping behind the scenes, during the scenes, and after the scenes throughout my journey as the CEO and President of Gathering Outreach, and they offer help before I can ask. Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to the Davis family. When I hit a low point in my life and needed help with childcare, I went to my Davis family, who had been there for me in so many ways during high school and years afterward. The family owned a daycare and was able to help me during a financial dilemma. I made a little too much to qualify for government assistance, but not enough to afford safe and quality childcare. Debra Davis looked at me and said, Natasha, tell me how much you can afford. I told her $75 was all I could afford. To this very day, that is why our after-school programs are $75 a week. Our fees have remained the same for the past eight years. I wanted to give other parents the hope that the Davis family gave me as a first-time, single mom. Last by not least, our current committee members, board members, volunteers, GK staff, and our local Independent School District Leaders, Partners, and Principals all play a crucial role in my ability to continue to reach our youth and families. They all believe and support the vision and mission of Gathering Outreach in support of Gathering Kids.