Why I serve, why I give

As both a state agency and a nonprofit, South Carolina First Steps relies on the service and financial support of passionate people like Dr. Shelley Canright. A former educator and STEM leader within NASA’s Office of Education, she now serves as vice chair of the South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees. In this blog post, Dr. Canright reflects on what it means to serve.

It has been said that places reveal our purpose. A two-year search ahead of retiring from NASA led my husband and me to the decision to relocate from Washington, DC to Columbia. Since moving here, we have uncovered the heart of the community and uncovered where each of us might give back. By aligning my charitable giving and volunteer work with my values, life experiences and interests, I am focused on educational causes that make a meaningful difference in South Carolina.

This culture of charity for me began at home. My parents modeled examples of giving. And they continuously reminded my siblings and me that we would never experience true success and fulfillment until we were willing to serve others with no strings attached.

They also taught me to think strategically about serving and giving – being thoughtful and intentional. I am proud to serve on SC First Steps Board of Trustees and participate on the Early Childhood Advisory Council. It is through this appointment that I have seen the commitment of elected officials and state agency policymakers and their staffs to implement strategies, make investments, and change policy to improve outcomes for our youngest children and their families. I have witnessed the hearts of local partnerships and the unwavering commitment to providing services in their communities so that South Carolina's children arrive at school ready to reach their highest potential.

Never did I dream that I might be part of such a noble cause and a collaborative endeavor. Every child deserves access to life changing benefits of early education. SC First Steps brings critical early education and resources to children and families that it serves. First Steps opens the door to a better future.

Topics: Service


Shelley Canright

Dr. Shelley Canright is a former educator and STEM leader within NASA’s Office of Education. She now serves as vice chair of the South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees.

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