by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography 

Reaching Across the Continent to Help Others Overcome Destitute Situations


Halfway around the world, in the village of Kakamega, Kenya, orphaned students who had once been facing the cruel realities of their socioeconomic status such as, fatal illness and starvation, are now living healthier, fuller and safer lives through their remarkable school – a school that is thriving with the help of 92129 resident Kathleen Tucker.

During a visit to the region in 2004 while working for a non-profit organization, Kathleen learned of the orphans and the needs of their school. “I became aware of a school for orphans in Kenya and couldn’t stand to watch them suffer,” she explained. “These children were driven by an insatiable desire to learn yet they lived (and died) in abject poverty; I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.” In 2011, with the help of her family, friends and colleagues, Kathleen founded TUCKLETS, a non-profit organization that strives to do two things: build the foundations for education and care of orphans; and fund U.S. projects that support and encourage volunteerism.

Since that time, TUCKLETS has funded school materials, the construction of facilities, uniforms, meal programs and medicine, vaccinations and medical supplies. The group also raises awareness with youth all around San Diego County.

ZG-4570From the start, Kathleen’s connection to the orphans ran deeper than just the empathy she had for them. She could relate to them, as well. At just 13-years-old, Kathleen’s mother and father passed away within a 10 month span, and Kathleen and her older sister, Kay, suddenly found themselves facing the world without parents. “From personal experience, I fully understand the value of education, the disadvantages of growing up without parents and the diminished opportunities available to the impoverished,” she shared. Luckily, Kay provided her with invaluable love and guidance, and Kathleen was able to use education to overcome hardship. “Kay instilled within me the belief that through education I could be successful, that education is the catalyst for change, and that education is an economic equalizer,” she explained. “I took her guidance to heart and as such have been successful both professionally and personally.”

Has she ever. With a formal education, Kathleen has had an extensive career in information technology, as well as law enforcement. She has also had 11 years of experience in leadership positions with non-profit organizations, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship and Change from Pepperdine University.

With too many awards and recognitions to list, some of Kathleen’s most notable include: the American Legions Medal for Outstanding Heroism and the Congressional Certificate of Achievement for Valor in the Line of Duty.

Kathleen has been a resident of 92129 since 1983. “I love the neighborhood atmosphere and the true sense of community,” said Kathleen. “Rancho Peñasquitos has a small town atmosphere with all of the amenities of a metropolitan area with access to open spaces and outdoor adventures!”

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Full name: Kathleen Tucker

Age: 55

Community: Feather Ridge since 1983

Professional: Software developer

Family: Cat named Bob; Sister named Kay

Hobbies: Travel, Safari, TUCKLETS

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