Why I Still Give to CST

Written by former Board Chair Paige Gibson

I came to know CST from a rather unlikely path. I met Celia while enjoying a beautiful day on a tennis court. As always, Celia was engaging and smart. She was fun to be around and easy to talk to about pretty much anything. Her kindness stood out to me. I casually asked her what she did for a living and she told me about CST. I was instantly fascinated by her work. What an amazing organization and what a wonderful charter for a non-profit! At the time we met, it was the early 2000s. I think I still had a flip phone. I may have even been using an AOL email account. Not sure. Can’t remember. At the time, America had just come out of some big events and was struggling with a lot of fear and a changing world. When Celia told me about CST, I found something hopeful and an organization making a really positive difference in people’s lives. I joined the Board shortly thereafter and I served for 8 years including one term as the Board Chair.

I continue to work with CST. I continue to give to CST today – even after my Board retirement. I would love to tell you why it matters to me. It is definitely the people who CST helps but giving to CST gives back to me in so many ways.

When I started on the Board, the organization was small. We had three Board Members. The budget was significantly smaller. During that time, CST held the grand opening of the Dallas office. I went with Celia to cut the ribbon for the ceremony. I watched clients apply for citizenship and send their kids to school. I saw them heal and achieve success over the years. My favorite project was the clothing drive to get kids back-to-school clothes and supplies. Each year, I worked with people from different cultures to see how they were adapting to American schools – and CST made all of that possible. At my first Board retreat we spent the day making plans for 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. The moderator encouraged us to dream big. Our ten-year plan was to expand, attract a much bigger and more diverse Board, raise a million dollars and garner private donations to solidify the organization. I have to admit, at the time it really felt like a very far away dream and it was a bit overwhelming. But Celia believed and she worked towards that goal no matter what obstacles came forward. CST has grown and Celia and her staff continue to break through in amazing ways.

Here we are in 2021 and the world has changed but some things are still the same. 2020 was a wild year also filled with a lot of fear and a changing world. While there are lots of things to say goodbye to, there are amazing things to celebrate as well. One of my biggest celebrations this year is for CST. I’m so amazed and proud of the organization for achieving all that we dreamt of in that retreat. Today, CST has a rich, robust Board. They’ve expanded their office space in both locations to accommodate a growing staff and a growing client base and they offer remote services to clients across the state. Those kids from the school drive have all graduated from college and are starting amazing careers. Those clients working through the refugee process are now proud US citizens. These people will now make a huge difference in both our country and the world.

Even though I left the Board five years ago, I still give to CST. I give my time by volunteering or doing projects whenever they need it because I love working with the staff. They are so engaged and enthused about the future. They are really admirable people. I give my money because I know the direct impact it has on people’s lives. I see the results of those donations immediately. When COVID struck last year, CST sent out a notification that they needed special equipment to switch clients to remote services. I sent them some money right away and I was excited to do so. It felt great to help during some dark days last year. I donate food and goods because I know what a difference it makes in people’s lives. I’ve seen it.

I love to give to CST because it matters and it feels great to do something with impact. I hope you will join me in giving – your time, your money, your experience, your help – whatever you can give. I promise you they will take care of your gift and it will do wonderful things right here in your community. The support and care that clients receive from CST has made a huge difference in the lives of our new friends and neighbors. I learned so much during my time with CST. I enjoyed every moment during my tenure. In reality, I have to say that I feel the experience benefitted me enormously as well. I think CST gave me so much more than I have given them.