By Ruth Young Tyler
Shantell Roberts was at work when she received the phone call and learned that her infant daughter was “unresponsive” and rushed to a Baltimore area hospital by ambulance. Roberts and her loved ones waited in the hospital’s family room. Time passed. The doctors entered the room and told them that Roberts’s one-year old daughter was still “unresponsive.”
The doctors and paramedics left the room and eventually the hospital. “It made it very real ~ everyone was leaving the hospital except my daughter,” said Roberts. The cause of death was MRSA – pneumonia. That was in 2011. Roberts remembered when the doctors “called the time.” It was 12:28pm.
Transforming her grief and anger into something positive, Roberts founded Touching Young Lives, Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the health and well-being of infants and children by providing, Portable Alternative Cribs (PAC’s). The PAC is a certified baby box with padding at the bottom that serves as a safe sleeping space for an infant. The organization also provides families with information and resources on best practices for childcare. Roberts’ organization has helped more than 3,000 families in Baltimore, Cecil, Frederick and Charles counties, as well as Baltimore City.
For her advocacy and efforts and helping families, Roberts was presented with the United Way of Central Maryland “Philanthropic Five” award during its 7th annual Emerging Leaders United (ELU) Young Professionals Conference on May 11th. The organization honored five professionals created favorable change in central Maryland through commitment to volunteerism, education, housing, employment or health. Henry Timms, the founder of #GivingTuesday, delivered the keynote address at the event.
United Way’s ELU is a network of more than 1,500 young professionals that provides unique opportunities to give back to the local community as well as social, networking and professional development events.
“Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it requires all of us to raise our hands and roll up our sleeves to help those who need it the most,” said Jeremy Rosendale, ELU director. “United Way is pleased to honor these five young leaders who are fighting for positive change and inspiring their friends and colleagues to do the same.”
In addition to Roberts, the other 2018 award recipients included Ashley Fennig, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Alex Montanio, Gordon Feinblatt LLC, Derel Owens, Top-Notch Kidz, Shantell Roberts, Touching Young Lives, Inc. and Meredith Zoltick, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition.
“Every day is a new experience and a new opportunity to assist families that are most in need. I am just one finger of a mighty fist pushing families into a position where they can become the best possible versions of themselves. As a bereaved mother, this award reminds me that my daughter’s death was not in vain and that her legacy lives on as I continue to touch young lives,” said Roberts.