I have a most wonderful, intelligent, amazing friend, James Bramble, who is an executive and an attorney. His wisdom and humble nature is apparent every day as his way of being. This short blog post he wrote is an example of his loving leadership. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
Every Monday the USANA True Health Foundation Facebook page has a gratitude post. A chance to reflect on something for which we are grateful. Susie Derber asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking a turn this week. As I thought about this I had a conversation with my son Andrew Bramble about an event that happened almost 23 years ago when I was attending law school.
My desire to become a lawyer was something that I had felt since I was very young. However, life got in the way and there was a time when it did not seem possible to meet that particular dream. I had a young family at the time and we were very poor. There just didn’t seem to be a way to both attend law school and also take care of my family. Fortunately, a few things happened involving others reaching their hands down to pull me up that allowed me to complete my studies. One of those fortuitous events was receiving a scholarship. I had applied for this particular private scholarship because I saw it advertised by the school administration. I knew nothing about it other than it was available for application. It was in the name of a man I did not recognize. The John Smith scholarship (name changed for his family’s privacy). Receiving the scholarship helped make my dream possible, it wasn’t a lot of money, I think one or two thousand dollars for the year, but it paid for my books and supplies that I needed and couldn’t otherwise afford.
I don’t remember ever wondering much about who John Smith was until one day I received a request to speak at a luncheon honoring individuals who had made donations to fund scholarships for the University. I was to speak about gratitude and how receiving a scholarship helped make my education possible and I would sit at a table and eat lunch next to the donor. The day soon arrived. I remember it was December 1 because it was World AIDS day. It was the 1990s and being academia everyone was wearing red ribbons. In my mind I had been imagining my donor as some successful business tycoon who had made a ton of money and was giving back through philanthropy. I had a list of questions ready to ask him for tips on how I could be successful myself.
I was surprised when I arrived and my table guest was a sort of frumpy, kind, poorly dressed, warm smiling, middle age woman, Ms. Smith. Ms. Smith was a cashier at a local grocery store and had lived all her life in Salt Lake City. Her son, John Smith, was her pride and joy. His goal from the time he was very young, like mine, was to be a lawyer. Finances being tough for a single mother John saved religiously so when the time came he could afford law school. However, he never met his goal. He was diagnosed with cancer before he turned 20 and did not survive. Ms. Smith did not use the money to add to her meager cashier salary. Nor did she use it on funeral or medical expenses. Intent on making John’s dream come true even if he couldn’t attend himself, Ms. Smith decided to use the money to fund a small scholarship for other young students. It was difficult for me to give my gratitude speech choked with emotion as I realized I was the beneficiary of such selfless sacrifice.
Today for the weekly True Health Foundation Monday gratitude post I am grateful for Ms. Smith and all the many, many, many people who extended their hand to me to help me receive the blessings in life that I have received abundantly. I am grateful for the True Health Foundation as a vehicle to allow me to try to do the same and reach my hand down to help others. I hope this memory will help someone see how even a small donation can make a big difference in the life of someone else.