Words to live by are printed on the card that sits on my desk. The author was the colorful Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, who penned, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Philanthropy, at its core, is the desire to promote the welfare of others, particularly as it relates to quality of life. Recently, two very different yet meaningful gifts intended to aid our students were received by Davis & Elkins College. Each one, in its unique way, serves as a potent reminder of the power of giving which brings meaning to life.
The first gift came from an alumnus from the decade of the 70s who credits her collegiate experience with being transformational. She had already established a generous endowed scholarship as a part of her legacy to her alma mater. Coming to know her over the past few years, I appreciate so much her desire to assist others that are attempting to better their lives and open doors of opportunity through their dedication and hard work as students at her beloved D&E. At her core, she is driven by her abiding goodness and deep faith. When this alumnus recently received an inheritance from her father after his very meaningful life and successful career, she unselfishly decided to share a significant portion with others. Not surprisingly, she chose, without great fanfare, to provide a gift to the College and asked that we use it where it will have the greatest impact. I have directed most of this gift to be available for scholarship aid for deserving students. The gift was $600,000. How blessed D&E is for this gift and this giver. She is dedicated to the welfare of others, and in the process “…making a life by what (she) gives.”
A second gift to the College spoke to my heart in an equally unique way. This second donor graduated from our nursing program about 25 years ago, but failed to pass a required post-graduation exam (N-CLEX) to practice as a registered nurse. Two and a half decades later, she returned to the College to audit courses and work one-on-one with Melissa McCoy, Director of the Associate Degree Program in Nursing. Perseverance and determination paid off as our alumnus passed her N-CLEX Exam and is now working as a registered nurse. Recently she returned to D&E to thank Melissa and the Nursing Faculty. She gave a $500 gift to the College in gratitude and asked that it be directed to a nursing student with unexpected need. “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Two very different gifts from two very special givers, but each given from the heart for the benefit of another. There is power in giving…both for those that receive and those that give. I wonder what impact these two gifts have already made on students on campus today. In years to come, will they be giving back in gratitude to benefit the next generation? God willing, may it be so.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College