On Corporate Sort Days, I like to try to have a client stop by to shop, so that the volunteers from the corporation can see why we value their time and how it impacts our clients. The pairing of corporation and client isn’t always possible, but last week it was and it was magical.
Vera needed to get some clothing for an upcoming job fair and Unanet, a human resource company had sent 20 volunteers for their day of service. After coordinating with Vera several times on the phone, I expected a bubbly, energetic and positive woman to enter. Vera entered the store completely oppositely of what I had expected. She looked downtrodden and heavy hearted. I greeted her with a hug, and asked her if she could tell me a little bit about herself before we picked out her clothing.
Vera apologized and through her tears said she really couldn’t talk. I gently told her that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t tell me what was wrong and, truthfully, I may not be able to help her at all, but talking was the first step. As we held hands she started speaking, “I’m fine “she said, “It is my daughter. She was notified that there was a $500 lapse in a school grant that needs to paid this week. She is to graduate in May and cannot return for the next semester unless the $500 is paid.” “Okay” I said. “I know that was hard, but thank you for telling me. So what happens next semester?” “Next semester is paid for she has a full scholarship. I need to pull myself together and get some clothing for the job fair.” We hugged, wiped away her tears, and started to putting outfits together.
There was a Unanet volunteer next to me during this exchange who looked at me with tears in her eyes. I said “No little girl will be denied a college education for $500.” At that, we began collecting money from all the volunteers in the building. Within 20 minutes, we had collected $525.00.
As the Unanet employees gathered around, Vera came out in the outfit that she had chosen to wear for the job fair. I told her that good things happen to good people and handed her the $525 in cash.
Vera’s cry came from a place that I have never heard before. It was powerful enough to bring us all to tears. And just when we thought it couldn’t get more emotional, Vera’s daughter face timed in. “Baby girl, because of these nice people, you are going to graduate from college” cried Vera. Vera’s daughter screamed, “Mama, Mama I’m going to graduate college!”
To say we rejoiced is an understatement. Vera sent me a text a day later to let me know that she contacted financial aid and her account was paid in full. Knowing her current situation, the financial aid office rejoiced almost as much as we did.