Terri J. Vaughn, TWF Founder
Growing up in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point area, in a single parent home, I experienced daily the challenges that come along with being a teenaged girl, in a drug and gang infested community. The normal teenage concerns of friends, grades, college and boys were the least of my worries. Getting telephone calls throughout the nights just to be informed of who had just been shot became the norm. I often wondered what was wrong, what was missing from our lives that we were shooting, being shot, being killed, boosting, prostituting and fighting with each other, instead of going to school and planning for our future. Why were we selling drugs, using drugs and trying to have the drug dealer boyfriends, instead of trying to make better lives for ourselves outside of this plagued community?
Why were we doing these things to ourselves and to each other? These questions stayed with me throughout my teenage years, through college and even followed me to Hollywood. I knew my sister and I were blessed to have a supportive mother, a dedicated grandmother, and aunts who nurtured us to do well in school and in life. I also knew I wanted to do something to help guide girls growing up in my neighborhood to make better choices.
After years of struggling and trying to find my way in Hollywood, I was blessed with the role of Lovita on “The Steve Harvey Show” and that is when I knew what I wanted to do. In 1997, with the help of one of my best childhood friends, we put the word out that I wanted to invite 40 girls, between the ages of 13-18 years old, from my old neighborhood out for a holiday dinner. I’ll never forget it. We laughed, we shared and we cried together. It was a powerful night. Since then we have had that dinner every year with 60 to 80 girls in attendance. From that, with the help of my family and friends, Take Wings Foundation was formed.
I know that Take Wings Foundation is a product of God and of Love. I know that the girls we serve are often over looked in our society and I know that I have been chosen to be a voice and a face for them. It is my God given mission to expose these girls to more of what the world has to offer, other than the community they see everyday, and to expose the world to what these girls have to offer it. My passion to help enhance the lives for young girls is matched by the support and hard work of my board of directors. Our hope is that one day there will be no reason to have organizations like Take Wings Foundation; that all girls, no matter their backgrounds or their challenges, will find it within themselves to spread their wings and soar. Until that time comes I will be here and Take Wings will be here, to be the wind beneath their young wings.