Among the beautiful things about an organization with 103 years of roots in this community is that one never knows when a homecoming will spontaneously occur. Reminders of how we remain connected through distance and time pop up daily.
On Monday, I got a voicemail from a small town Illinois newspaper trying to locate a former ScholarShop assistant manager (and graduate). She won a charity raffle for a side of a hog and they were trying to notify her. Though our contact information was more than six years old, I called her and we were soon chatting about her two children, her husband (also a Scholarship Foundation and ScholarShop alum), and what in the world they would do with that much pork.
It was a quiet Thursday afternoon this week when a new staff member mentioned she had an interview with someone who had recently repaid his interest-free loan in full. I was at my desk by the window when Tory (pictured here) walked toward the front door at the same moment as Advising Director (and former student and former ScholarShop staffer) Teresa Steinkamp. Teresa’s thoughts were deep in the business of the day so she initially offered a basic greeting and then did a classic double-take. Recognizing Tory, she let out a scream of joy I could hear through the brick and glass that separated us. We learned his job driving 18-wheelers has taken him to 48 of 50 states and gives him time behind the wheel to do some life coaching with others. He shared his experience staying safe on the road and told us which truck stops are the best. Tory reflected on the difference his ScholarShop family made in his life about 10 years ago at just the right time. And like a pro, he commenced to deftly facilitate an impromptu group discussion on parenting.
It is Friday as I write and I am preparing for a meeting this morning with a couple, a physician and a photographer, who were referred to The Scholarship Foundation by a regional financial services firm. I don’t know what our conversation will entail, but they are coming with commitment to the power of educational opportunity and memory of the organization that made possible the education of their father in 1934 (when we were called the St. Louis Jewish Scholarship Foundation).
THIS is the intangible and invaluable, the everyday homecoming of work in community.