The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

Thank You Darlin’ Foundation honors a mother’s legacy of helping others

Foundation’s after-school program helps students find their voices through poetic expression
Hannah Murphy
The Thank You Darlin’ Foundation is scheduled to host its annual poetry slam from 1 p.m.-to-3 p.m. April 27 at the TCU Moudy Visual Arts and Communication building.

FORT WORTH, Texas- For more than 20 years, Thank you Darlin’ Foundation executive director and founder Carolyn West has been helping underserved communities tap into their creative potential.

The Thank You Darlin’ Foundation was created in 2004 after West and her sister suffered the loss of their mother.

West said she and her sister decided “we’re not going to grieve anymore. Mom helped a lot of people and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Beginning as a workshop in a back corner at Starbucks with only five students, the non-profit foundation has expanded to an after school program focusing on poetic expression for disadvantaged students. Over the span of two decades, the foundation has helped more than 7,000 students find their voice and express their creativity.

“That was just an idea, and for it to have lasted 20 years, for it to have impacted thousands of students—I’m amazed,” West said.

The Thank you Darlin’ Foundation encourages students to use their imagination not only in their writing but in their everyday lives as well.

“This is what I tell the kids,” West said. “Imagination is a wonderful thing because once you can imagine, you can conceive any idea.”

She said her foundation was built on a single idea, so why not encourage the students to dream big as well?

“We have partnered with the Fort Worth after school program and schools will contact us to come and provide activities that will promote expression and literacy,” West said.

The educators within the program include degreed professionals, artists, published authors and retired teachers dedicated to helping students gain literary and creative confidence through a multitude of different avenues.

One of the most integral parts of the Thank you Darlin’ Foundation is inclusivity, including making students feel more than adequate when presenting their work.

“We really appreciate that the foundation rewards all students with medals,” Linda Jones from Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School said. “It takes bravery and courage to get up on the stage.”

The foundation has also worked with John T. White Elementary School since 2019, and De’Bora Brown, site supervisor of the Fort Worth After School program, said students have benefited in many ways, especially with their “creativity, teamwork, and confidence.”

Brown added, “They love working with their coach and mentor who is genuine and honest with them in regard to all aspects of growing and what Thank you Darlin’ Foundation offers.”

West said the program helps students find their voices.

“Thank you Darlin’ is saying, ‘You become the poet. Let’s develop your voice,’” West said.

To further promote student expression, the foundation also hosts its Voice2Youth annual poetry slam. The event is free to student participants and is intended to let students fully express themselves in front of their peers.

The Thank You Darlin’ Foundation’s Voice2Youth Poetry Slam is scheduled for April 27. (Hannah Murphy)

Through three categories—elementary starting at third grade, middle school and high school—students can compete for cash prizes in individual or group brackets. The students’ poems are also collected and used in a published anthology correlating with that year’s writing theme. This year’s theme is “Magnified.”

The poetry slam is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 at the Texas Christian University Moudy Visual Arts and Communication building.

In the future, West said she wants to incorporate an internship opportunity within the Thank you Darlin’ Foundation to reach as many students as possible. She also dreams of having a vehicle for the foundation to go out in the community because West understands that students may have limitations on their access to after school programs due to a lack of  transportation.

West said she believes she was destined for this work.

“Because I am a poet, I know I was plucked from one garden by grace and planted here,” West said.

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