I learned fairly young just how rewarding it can be to give back. My parents showed us this by example in big and small ways. Each December, my mom, a special education teacher, slipped her students’ parents money for Christmas gifts. My dad, a youth pastor, gathered teenagers to visit the local prison and the nursing home, just to let the residents of both know that they hadn’t been forgotten.
Together, my parents often loaded our family into their full-size van to hand out meals to the homeless in downtown Denver. “Make a sandwich delicious enough that it’s hard for you to give up,” was my dad’s instructions to my siblings and me.
I’m sure I met some of these activities with an eye roll, but what I remember most is admiring my parents. They didn’t have much in the way of money, but they were always quick to give what they could. And I wanted people to know that I was part of that family.
My parents’ generosity—with their time, talent, and treasure—helped guide me to my career. Or I should say, careers. First, I worked for 15 years as a journalist, covering education in Loudoun County for 10 of those years. Yes, I spent long nights in School Board meetings, doing my best to keep county residents informed on everything from budget reconciliation to school attendance changes. But what I loved most in that job was telling the stories that played out outside of the board room. The stories that prompted real change in the lives of teachers, students, and their families.
I loved writing articles about teachers going the extra mile—in one instance, even winning a contest on the Ellen Show—to fund creative classroom projects. I liked to spotlight businesses and organizations that went far above what’s expected to serve their community. In one example, a charitable organization “adopted” the Park View High School soccer team to fund their trip to the state finals. In another, the Loudoun business community rallied to buy a new replacement robot when the RoboLoCo team’s prized robot was stolen just before the national competition.
These stories didn’t always make it on the front page, but they capture what I love about Loudoun County. The big and small moments where someone has an opportunity to give, they respond, and then they get to watch just how their gift helped improve our little corner of the world.
Interestingly enough, it’s stories like those that led me to join the staff of the Loudoun Education Foundation. The education foundation is an independent nonprofit that spurs community members, like yourself, to help Loudoun County students and teachers reach their full potential. As part of the LEF team, I get to help spark more of these meaningful stories.
This November, the Loudoun Education Foundation is launching our monthly giving campaign, LEF LIFTS (Launching Innovation for Teachers and Students). I want to invite you to be a part of creating these life-changing stories. It doesn’t take much to make a real impact in your neighborhood school, for a first-year teacher, or for a student and her family.
Consider partnering with us at LEF. $10 a month for one year provides 24 weekend meal bags for food-insecure students. $15 a month sends one student to our STEM enrichment camp. $40 dollars a month sends one new teacher through our mentoring program. $100 a month supports a scholarship for a classified employee to pursue their teaching degree.
Visit the LEF LIFTS page to set up your monthly gift. We’ll stay in touch to share the stories you’ve helped create. Thank you for partnering with us as we begin this new chapter.
Our LEF LIFTS (Launching Innovation For Teachers and Students) is our ask to give monthly to support local students and teachers.