When I was a Senior in High School several students in our class were invited to participate in a “Close Up” week-long study program in Washington D.C. Kids from across the U.S. learned about their Government and its inter-workings. As you can imagine this was not a free trip. You can also imagine my parents weren’t overjoyed at the thought of spending $1,200 on one child.
These were 1992 dollars at that.
This amazing opportunity came with a price tag that was far beyond my parents budget but that didn’t deter me from presenting my sales pitch with all of the reasons why I should be allowed to participate. Just short of asking them to sell a kidney I really didn’t have a plan and they didn’t really buy into my “I may be President some day” speech.
Out of the blue one day my mother came home and told me she found a way to send me. I was over the moon excited. My mother was one of the top salesmen at her place of employment, The Natchitoches Times. I assumed Eva Gail was going to put her skills to good use and choose to raise the tuition for the trip. It was one of the options included in the package.
She asked me to write a letter detailing what experience a student would gain from the program and how I planned to use that knowledge for my future endeavors. She didn’t have to ask me twice. I poured my heart and soul into a grammatically correct letter that would wow the socks off of any potential donors.
She picked me up from school one day so I could ride with her as she met with people to ask for donations using my thoughtful letter and her winning smile. Or so I thought. The very first office we visited was a business called Waskom & Brown. We parked the car and I wished Eva Gail luck. She looked at me with a very unpleasant face and told me I was confused.
I wasn’t confused. I was supporting her as she did her thing.
My mother told me she wasn’t the one wanting to travel to D.C. She wasn’t the one who didn’t have a job to pay for this endeavor. She wasn’t the one who would do my work for me and I needed to show more effort and less dependency on her for this labor intensive project. She led the horse to the trough but she certainly wasn’t making it drink for me.
Once I recovered from the shock of having to actually take care of my own business I exited the car, entered the building and boldly asked to speak to a Mr. Nettles Brown. I presented him with my letter and gave him a brief rundown of the program. He was extremely gracious and agreed to be a donor of my trip if my group would agree to speak at Kiwanis once we returned. At the time I wasn’t fully aware of the impact that Kiwanis had on young children and how the whole organization is based on “One child at a time.”
One thing Mr. Brown nor myself knew at the time was that one day I would become the President of the organization I visited in high school….I literally was that “One child”….. He chose to invest in the future of a child he did’t know, while not knowing what the return on his investment would be.
Fast forward 26 years later.
While volunteering to work at the Jazz Fest I met the most amazing young girl Amia and her little brother Devon. We became fast friends. They’re very polite and just as outgoing as I am. However, they were on a mission to raise money for Amia to attend a study program in Washington DC. The very next weekend while volunteering at the Louisiana Forest Festival in Winnfield I ran into the same family again.
Amia was there with her mother, Amy Metoyer, Corey Roberson and her little brother. It was a divine meeting. I have no doubt. Amia was there selling cupcakes and pound cakes that she and her grandmother baked. Actually, she was giving them away for donations. She put her trust in the hands of strangers.
She had an ace in the hole though. She had sales skills that had me ready to recruit her to sell insurance in my office. Her whole family and extended family have been working for months to raise money for Amia to travel to Washington D.C. Bake sales, car washes, BBQ’s, lemonade stands… you name it they family has done it. They’ve made it a family affair.
There’s no doubt that in both cases, my mother and Amia’s mother, could have easily chosen to work on our behalf. They could have taken the reigns and earned the money fairly quickly and taken the easy road. But, had that happened, I wouldn’t have met Mr. Brown (whom I consider a friend and business colleague). Amia wouldn’t have made those priceless memories with her grandmother baking and working at festivals with her family by her side. Most of all we wouldn’t have learned that God puts people in our path daily who will influence us for the good of his Kingdom and to further his plan.
I’m excited to say that I’m investing in the future of Amia Brown with the hopes that she will come speak at Kiwanis when she gets back from D.C.!
Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it. Proverbs 22:6
To donate to Amia’s trip to Washington D.C. this summer, go online to: WEBSITE