Kelly doesn’t look like a woman who hit the end of her rope. Not anymore. In fact, a cursory glance at Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District’s Coordinator of Family Engagement, Community Outreach, and Teacher Support would reveal nothing out of the ordinary. She’s a bright, charismatic, and altogether capable person. You’d never guess that she spent an evening weeping on her kitchen floor, surrounded by Tupperware and elementary school lesson plans.

Years removed from a dangerous prior marriage and an equally intimidating period as a single mother of two, Kelly has dedicated her life to teaching students and their families. Now removed from the frontlines of her classroom, Kelly currently serves in the school district’s main office. It’s part of her job to make sure that no one here in HEB ever feels alone and powerless when it comes to both basic needs and academic needs. She loves every second of it. She is also acutely aware that parents who struggle to supply their families with basic necessities will also struggle to be engaged in their children’s education. Her personal experience with poverty has led her to a unique appreciation of the value of her work. That understanding had another unforeseen side effect: a special love for 6 Stones.

Kelly is a monthly donor.

The Lean Years

During the course of our interview, Kelly was understandably mum on the subject of her previous marriage. The unsteady and unhealthy home environment that she fled is a fading memory, and she’d prefer to keep it that way. She’s happily married now, with her three children and 11 grandchildren still at the top of a long list of blessings she’s been given.

Kelly shows off a bit of her personality during her post-interview photo shoot. (Photo by Steven A Jones, 6 Stones)

But the bleak period of uncertainty that followed — from her move to Colorado to yet another divorce — is part of her. As she goes about her work in the district, encountering families who struggle to make ends meet, she is reminded of her own difficult road. A road that led away from her family in Texas. One that included a return to college, a series of jobs as a teacher, and even a second gig selling Tupperware in the days before it went mainstream.

“I had a few friends that would keep an eye on me, but I really felt alone,” she said, recalling the darkest moment of her life as a single parent. “I didn’t know how to pay the rent. The money just wasn’t there. I sat on the floor, surrounded by Tupperware — over here, I had Tupperware and over there I had lesson plans and teacher’s guides — and I thought I couldn’t try any harder. I didn’t have any more hours in the day.”

A Teacher’s Life

Thankfully, Kelly’s church rallied to help her pay the bills and feed her children. The family escaped from their difficult circumstance and returned to Texas, where Kelly got a job as a third-grade teacher in HEB. Herself a graduate of L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Kelly was delighted to come home, and even more pleased to be able to serve one of the district’s most economically disadvantaged campuses. In her career, she has taught in schools from Fort Worth to Colorado. But at-risk kids always had her heart.

A Central Junior High student receives school supplies from a teacher during Operation Back 2 School. (Photo by Steven A Jones, 6 Stones)

“That’s where I feel like I have the greatest impact,” she said.

Like many teachers, Kelly had a bad habit of padding her grocery cart with supplies for her students as well as her own family. It wasn’t uncommon for children to come to class with their stores depleted or even non-existent. Many brought last year’s worn out supplies to school, while others relied on the Parent-Teacher Association to fill their needs. After family and district resources were exhausted, anything the students lacked fell to their teachers — the only ones who knew the need — to supply. It’s easy to see why Kelly is now an avid supporter of the Operation Back 2 School program.

“When students come to school and they have their schools supplies — they’re prepared to learn — the teacher’s job is so much more reasonable,” she said. “It takes a lot of the burden off of you as a teacher when there is someone else working behind the scenes to make that happen.”

Welcome to HEB ISD

When Kelly started in HEB, there was no 6 Stones. In fact, she was one of the major players in some of our earliest programs. With a specialty in reading and literacy, she was ideally suited to help organize a volunteer reading program for us in the late 2000s. Now, 6 Stones is her first and favorite resource referral for families in need. And there are plenty of them.

Families line up for hot dogs and cotton candy during a block party at Bellaire Elementary (Photo by Steven A Jones, 6 Stones)

“In HEB, we have a lot of mobility amongst our families, across our school district. We have families that move from apartment complex to apartment complex because they are following the sales specials. It’s sad, but I know why they do it,” she said. “I might have had to do that if my church hadn’t stepped in and helped me.”

Over half of our district qualifies as economically disadvantaged. Roughly one in four children here in HEB is raised in poverty. Very few of our residents find themselves in the kind of desperate need most of us associate with the word “poor.” Most are working paycheck-to-paycheck. For those families, a penny saved is more than a penny earned.

“When you think about building a budget when you don’t have enough money for everything you need to support your family, it beats you up emotionally. It makes you worry at night. You lose sleep, and when you wake up you are tired,” Kelly said, recalling her own experience.

“As a single parent, every day is scary. Because you never know when an emergency is going to come up… your budget is so tight. And I’ll tell you what: back to school used to be a very stressful time for me. I didn’t really have the money in my budget.”

More Than Surviving

When Kelly talks about the Working Poor, she isn’t speaking theoretically. She’s speaking from experience. She spent a good portion of her life worrying about emergency expenses and claustrophobic budget lines. Now, she sees it as her mission to reduce the stress of poverty for others. That’s why she does what she does in the district. It’s also why she donates to 6 Stones on a regular basis.

A volunteer shares a moment of wonder during Night of Hope, the annual Christmas event hosted by 6 Stones and HEB ISD. (Photo by Steven A Jones, 6 Stones)

“I came through all of my storms. I have a roof over my head and my basic necessities are never in question today,” she said. “It’s not just about surviving. When I was a single mom, I survived. I survived every day. My kids survived. But what we want to see happen is for our kids to thrive. To grow. To feel confident and to be able to go out in the community and spread positive and compassionate acts. We want them to be able to be a light that shines to other people.”

For Kelly, the ability to provide school supplies for students — and to keep teachers from doing the same out of their own pockets — is a blessing. But 6 Stones means more to her than backpacks. It’s the place where community resources gather in support of at-risk families all year. A volunteer hub where children can not only see charity in action but also take part in it. She and her husband contribute to our General Fund on a monthly basis because she can’t imagine this community without 6 Stones.

Which is funny, really. Because we can’t imagine 6 Stones without this community.

We need your help. Without monthly donors, we can’t afford to keep the New Hope Center running. We can’t pay our staff to organize and execute Operation Back 2 School, Night of Hope, or Community Powered Revitalization. We wouldn’t be able to host community services here in our offices. Please, join us. Join Kelly. Become a monthly donor at


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