“That was me.”

A successful, driven and respected sales associate for a major print and marketing communications firm, Karen was normally very prepared for first-time meetings with potential clients.  This time, however, she was coming off an especially busy week and found herself not quite ready.

“I’m so sorry,” she began, “but I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be with your work, could you tell me a little more about it?”

And so Cathe Dykstra began to tell Karen about the work of Family Scholar House.  Only she hadn’t gotten very far into the mission of FSH when she noticed Karen’s eyes filling with tears.  She did her best to forge ahead, having no idea what was happening.  Meanwhile, Karen, horrified that she was expressing such raw emotion in a business setting, tried unsuccessfully to reign in all that she was feeling.  And, finally,  Cathe paused to ask the obvious question, “Are you okay?”

Karen, her voice breaking, said only, “That was me.”

“That was me,” she said, and went on to tell Cathe her story.  How she’d found herself unexpectedly pregnant just prior to beginning her freshman year of college.  How the baby’s father hadn’t wanted much to do with it all.  How she was determined to get her degree, to excel, to chase her goals, even though everything was about to change and she had every reason to back away from her commitment to college.  How the baby came a little early and so she missed finals her first semester and had to make them all up after Christmas.  How her family pitched in and helped.  How friends, anonymous strangers, even professors, all, each in their own way, cheered her on when it all seemed so impossible.

Cathe understood.  The meeting was a very successful one. And Karen is now a committed friend to and partner with Family Scholar House.

She’s the original member of the FSH “Spirit Team,” volunteers who focus on FSH families and how community and energy can be built among them.  FSH “finals baskets” are a brainchild of Karen’s, as are Easter Egg Hunts (the eggs being filled with things like baby food or granola bars) and any number of other special projects that help our families remember how supported they are, and how much of a community they have in one another.

Karen’s own story intersected with the story of FSH in such a way that everyone learned a little bit more about what it means to work together for a good and common cause.  And as Karen will tell you, we’ve got plenty of spirit around this place as a result!

****

That’s the thing about Family Scholar House and our stories–we’ve all got one.  Every staff member, every volunteer, every family–we’ve all got a story about why FSH matters to us.  Karen’s is just one.

What will yours be?

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