United Way Gives Mother, Daughter New Lease on Life - 8 News NOW

United Way Gives Mother, Daughter New Lease on Life

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LAS VEGAS - Three years ago, Vanessa Cardenas left a bad marriage. With no income, she moved in with her parents. Her young daughter Delilah's daytime companion was the television.

"She was really, really quiet and reserved," Vanessa said. "After I left her dad, she was literally a wreck. It was really hard for her."

Vanessa, barely out of high school, wanted to go to college to become a pharmacist. She knows the value of education, but couldn't afford to send Delilah to preschool. Then, she heard about United Way of Southern Nevada's Tuition Assistance Scholarship Program.

"We're providing scholarships to allow kids access to high-quality education in the pre-school environment," said United Way of Southern Nevada President and CEO Cass Palmer. "Third grade is the marker. Those criterion tests are done in third grade. If the child is not doing well, typically, the child is not going to graduate high school."

Learn More About the United Way of Southern Nevada

Palmer says investing in learning at the pre-kindergarten level helps build a foundation for a child that will help keep him or her out of social services later in life.

"They're more confident. They're more outgoing, and they're just more comfortable with who they are," Palmer said.

Vanessa and Delilah started Hill and Dale Preschool together. Delilah attends as a student, and Vanessa volunteers in the classroom.

"She got a lot smarter. She was able to put more sentences together. She was learning the alphabet, and she was learning to spell, because she wanted to learn all the sounds the letters made," Vanessa said.

Vanessa has changed her career path and wants to open a daycare center. Delilah, meanwhile, is blossoming into an outgoing five-year-old.

"She loves to dance. That's her favorite. She's a little ballerina. She loves to play sports. She likes to color," Vanessa said. "She likes to make books. That's a big thing. She loves writing books. She draws pictures and she says, "How do I spell this word, and how do I spell this word?'"

Thanks to the United Way's Tuition Assistance Scholarship Program, Delilah and Vanessa are finding success.

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