I just learned the young lady to whom my family gave our first college scholarship has earned her degree. I got chills at the news. The best kind.
It isn’t like we funded her education, only a small part of it. Very small. But the thought that drove our modest gesture was to honor our father and mother, who lived and worked and contributed to the same little suburban-Philadelphia town their whole lives. My sister, brother and I, and our spouses, four years ago started a memorial fund in their names – Theodore and Dorothy. Dorie and Dottie. And each June we have awarded it to a student at our old high school who volunteers in some fashion and who, in a short essay, best explains how community service has impacted or otherwise changed their life.
We’ll get about 10 or 12 essays every spring. It is an honor to know those 10 or 12 have read a bit about my parents and their numerous contributions to their hometown. American Legion commander. July 4th committee president. Election official. Church choir singer and board secretary. Youth club founder. On and on. Each has been gone more than a decade, but their lives remain a local presence still with a bit of influence.
That’s gratifying, as it is to be able to help a young person in my parents’ mold to extend their own influence while tending to their own aspirations.
Our fifth winner will be announced Thursday night at the school’s awards assembly. We don’t yet know their identity, only their impressive credentials. But we do know the skip in our hearts, and the touch of moisture in our eyes, we will feel when that name is revealed.
It happens every year. For me, it heralds the bond that instantly forms, a lasting link from my life’s heroes to a young life full of hope and promise.
Truly, a chilly moment. The best kind.