Family Values

Faith Sandler Words of Faith

Shame on me. Today I remembered two important things: family values and matzo ball soup.

In 28 years, you would think I’d have learned the magic of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. But this week, I’ve thankfully been reminded all over again of the goodness of human beings and the fact that there are families who extend themselves to create opportunity for others.

This has been a rough week. Our students (and thus our community and our country) are threatened with: continued cuts to already scant financial aid; a skewing of admissions priorities at elite private and public universities to favor students from wealthy families; family separation and detention or deportation; and, a frightening lack of consumer protection in all aspects of higher education. Some nights, I awaken with my brain rushing through these topics. Only a large library of sleepy podcasts saves me from getting up to work at 3:00 a.m.

But in this week alone, I have heard from members of the extended Scholarship Foundation family who have inadvertently reminded me to get a good night’s sleep and work all the harder tomorrow.  In calls and emails and contributions, I see how values transcend generations and outlive even the bleakest of political conditions.

  • A niece of one of our former board members is sending $17,000 to supplement a fund her aunt created in 2003 in honor of her grandparents and several generations of graduates of Sumner High School. Students assisted by the fund attend HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). This family’s commitment to higher education began with grandparents who worked hard and started saving in the early 1900s so that their descendants would be educated. Subsequent generations have expanded outward the family circle.
  • While mourning the death of their father, four siblings have been pondering ways to further his commitments to young people, to higher education, and to covering the unexpected costs students encounter. Not only have they refreshed the Executive Director’s Discretionary Fund (which covers small, unbudgeted expenses critical to student and staff success), but they are committing to funding advising services for students engaged in partner youth programs. This family knows that money matters, but so do relationships of trust and confidence.
  • An attorney who created a fund in memory of his parents asked that it be directed to immigrant students. He recalled tales of his family welcoming two cousins who had fled to the United States from Russia just before their lives would likely have come to an end under Nazi occupation. More than 70 years later, this donor is keeping a close eye on a student struggling to focus on his studies in the midst of the rescinding of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This family’s tradition of welcoming and of promoting academic pursuits holds strong.  

I’ve not mentioned names, because we never do so without permission and because there are so many other stories to tell and families to thank. It is an honor to learn that values align and that giving can be a matter of principle and relationship, all at once. I appreciate the reminder of the many generations of families (biological and otherwise) who have sustained our work. I also appreciate the reliable quality of Protzel’s matzo ball soup! Among the seven members of our staff who had soup for lunch today, there were some trying matzo balls for the very first time. All were reminded of basic goodness.

Now, let’s get to work.

– Faith Sandler