Statistically, Ashlee Weaver was never supposed to make it. Growing up as a young, black woman from a single-parent household in Gary, Indiana, not many people had high expectations for someone like her. “My ‘possibilities’ were determined long before my abilities were assessed,” Ashlee said. But she was never the type to let others define her, and she lived to prove her doubters wrong.
Then in 2012, Ashlee, who lived her life doing the unexpected, got unexpected news herself; she had been laid off. After all her hard work, it felt like her future – her family’s future – had been ripped away. “I began to question everything and wonder if the people who told me I would not make it were absolutely right,” Ashlee said.
It wasn’t long before the guilt and depression of Ashlee’s new reality set in, and some days just making it through felt like a huge feat. But even in her darkest moments, Ashlee knew this couldn’t be how her story ended. And her drive to want to do more, to be more, helped her push through the fog of depression. “I made a choice to change my thought pattern and the way I contributed to the community around me. I decided to volunteer,” Ashlee said.
Ashlee began volunteering as a Spanish teacher at her youngest daughter’s child care center, and it ignited in her a passion for human services. When the school year ended, she went to the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), a United Way-supported agency, to find more ways to get involved. The INRC saw the passion and leadership qualities in Ashlee that others had overlooked, and have put her in several community leadership roles over the years. Currently, she is a membership development manager at Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, and gets to work directly with girls in foster care and with incarcerated mothers.
Because of INRC, United Way and you, Ashlee has found opportunity. Opportunity that not only helped her pay her bills and keep her family fed, but gave her priceless perspective. “I have found a passion in helping young women. Now, I truly understand my potential and the leadership I can offer to youth in Indiana,” Ashlee said. “I want every girl to know that they are greater than the statistics, and we have the power to defy all preconceived notions of our possibilities.”
Note: United Way works to improve the lives of all Central Indiana residents by focusing our work in four key areas – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center is a United Way-funded agency addressing one or more of these priorities by providing support and resources to neighborhood-based organizations to strengthen, develop and empower neighborhoods.