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Meet Nicole Serle of The Lellow Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Serle.

Nicole, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
While I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Chicago, IL, I took a job working for a private learning center, Lindamood Bell Learning Processes. It was here that I fell in love with special education, and I saw the potential behind intensive learning interventions for teaching children with deficits in reading, writing, and math.

After completing my Master’s degree, I worked as a special education teacher for a network that turned around failing Chicago Public Schools. It was here that my passion for special education grew, and I saw the incredible discrepancies in our education system. Despite all the resources available, the public education system is failing to meet the needs of this exceptional community. I realized with all that I was given, I had a responsibility to advocate for these children and families, and to do something about the issue at hand.

So as I rode the bus to work one morning, I googled, “How to start a non-profit.” I finished the school year in Chicago, packed my bags to join my family in the great state of Texas, and one year later The Lellow Foundation was officially recognized as a 501(c)3 organization.

Since June of 2017, we have replenished school supplies for a Houston classroom that experienced damage from Hurricane Harvey; Adopted a beautiful mother and her daughter who has Autism, and showered them with gifts for Christmas; Held our first Annual Johnny Jam Fundraiser, raising over $20,000; Gave away two scholarships which funded close to 400 hours of instruction for children to receive reading intervention at Lindamood Bell in Houston; Had our first, annual Backpack Drive, which provided school supplies for the teachers and 350 students of Betsy Ross Elementary School; Funded $1,200 worth of classroom materials for a special education classroom in Houston; And adopted three amazing families for our first, official Holiday Drive in 2019. Phew! And we’re just getting started.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a roller coaster ride! From day one, I knew I needed to do this. I could see the end result, but the path I needed to get there was blurry. I often feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped with this mission on which I have set. However, I remind myself that God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called. He put this mission on my heart, and I am trusting and obeying him with every step that I take. It’s encouraging and humbling to see all we have done, but it’s still overwhelming thinking about the future and all we still have to do. We are growing, which is great, but it’s scary!

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
The Lellow Foundation is named after my Uncle Johnny who had Down Syndrome. His favorite color was “lellow.” The Lellow Foundation is committed to honoring Johnny’s life by operating with the same joy that he exhibited, so effortlessly influencing the lives of all who were blessed to know him.

It is our mission to support economically disadvantaged children with special needs. Our goal is to help bridge the gap for children who do not have access to resources and interventions available due to their economic situation, promoting each individual’s highest potential.

The Lellow Foundation considers a special need as any learning difficulty, physical challenge, or behavioral/emotional difficulty.

As we grow, our vision is to expand our partnerships, broaden our services throughout the great state of Texas and eventually nationwide, and to create volunteer and work opportunities for teens and adults with special needs through our programs and drives.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely! I am so overwhelmed by the philanthropic spirit of this city. The people and businesses have been and continue to be incredible support to our cause. I’m finding that people want to give and make a difference, sometimes they’re just looking for an avenue to do so. I don’t know if I’m just hyper-aware now because I’m engulfed in it, but everywhere I go, it seems opportunities present themselves of people and businesses looking to make a difference for the people of Houston.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Pure Zero Photography; Sarah Hankla

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