Inspiration the name of the game for Jefferson Award

mom-and-dadMost people would probably tell you how great their own parents are. Our caregivers are the first people we depend upon and are basically our entire worlds when we’re small. They determine, in large part, our worldviews.

I lucked out with my parents, and as I think about the multiple nonprofit organizations I volunteer with now and all those I helped with in years past, I know that all those organizations have my parents to thank for my efforts.

Growing up, I saw my parents volunteering in various activities, and it made an impression on me. Both my parents have been heavily involved in church my whole life, from Vacation Bible School to leading Bible studies to volunteering on committees.

My dad has offered his time and talents to so many of our sports teams throughout the years that I’ve lost count. He currently offers his analytical mind to his church’s financial team and his superb Spanish cheese-sauce making skills to the fundraising team in preparation for the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival (Booth #55; visit now through Saturday!).

My mom, an elementary school teacher, saw desperate need from so many children that she jumped in wherever she could to add value to their lives, whether that was tutoring, coaching them at volleyball, cheering them on at their after-school and summer sports competitions, or roping me, my siblings, and our friends in to helping with after-school activities.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-40-03-amA couple years ago, my mom spearheaded an after school program for students living in the then-Westbrook, now Grandin trailer park in Evansville, many of whom were her students at Highland. (See the Evansville Courier-Press article here.) She saw that the parents of these students couldn’t pick them up from after-school activities but were afraid to let them leave their homes without supervision, so they spent their time after the school day inside, lonely. The after-school program my mom began and still runs offers tutoring, learning, and fun for these children multiple times each week and even in the summer.

But not only that. My parents also urged their church to support the students by offering pick-up service on Sundays so they could join the church community even if their parents weren’t able to bring them. My dad is usually the one behind the wheel of the 15 passenger van each Sunday, driving through the Grandin neighborhood before and after church.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-40-25-amIn 2013, the city of Evansville sent my parents to Washington, D.C., so my mom — the local Jefferson Award-winner — could be recognized for her tutoring efforts and making life better for the students at the trailer. It was fitting that my dad was with her, since he has encouraged her from the very beginning and is the very handy man who handles all things electric at the trailer.

I’m so proud of both my parents for their servant hearts. They inspire me to continue their legacy of volunteering as well as pass it on to my children.

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