In her book In the Garden of Delight published in 1916, American author Lily Hardy Hammond wrote “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” Her words memorialized the concept we often associate with random acts of kindness, the type of action that can cause a positive ripple effect to restore faith in the world and in humankind.
As some of you know, EALgreen was founded on this very principle by Swede Roskam as a way of paying forward the help he had received when he was a young man struggling to go to college. Given the wherewithal to pay for his education by an Iowa couple he had never met, Swede went on to become a highly successful sales executive, husband, and father. Years later, he and his good friend Dan Mickelson, who also benefitted from a scholarship he received to study Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University, developed an innovative way of raising financial support from corporations to help college students in similar adverse financial circumstances. Their noble purpose and ingenuity continue to inspire all of us at EALgreen every day. As you can see, these traditions have been part of EALgreen’s corporate DNA from the very beginning.
We at EALgreen also believe in cultivating a grateful heart by saying thank you to those who help us. That’s why EALgreen asks that our scholarship recipients write thank you notes upon receiving their award letters. We do this, not only because we want to know more about the individuals benefiting from EALgreen’s efforts but, even more, to give the students themselves a feeling of empowerment by knowing that an EALgreen scholarship means much more than financial support. It means opportunity and hope.
Recently, we received a thank you note from an exceptional EALgreen scholar whose life is a beautiful example of how this all works. And, in this special season, when giving to others is especially celebrated, we thought we would share some of her letter with you. We think it will tell you everything you need to know about the writer – and about the work we do.
My name is Courtney and I would first like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generous donation of $1,000. My family and I are so grateful as this allows me to further my college education.
I am twenty-three years old from a small town outside of St. Louis, Missouri. I love to travel, sing, speak Spanish and I’m an avid New York Yankees baseball fan (thanks to my grandfather.) I have three sisters and one brother, me being the second oldest. (Here’s a photo of my wonderful family.)
I grew up in the Lutheran Church and went to a private Lutheran school – kindergarten through eighth grade. After going to a public high school I felt that when I went on to college, I wanted to get back to something Christian but thought that would be out of my price range.
Now I attend Olivet Nazarene University. I absolutely love the opportunity to go to chapel twice a week, have religion classes again and have my professors pray over us before each class. I feel that it really makes a difference in education when the professors have God’s spirit in them. Every day my faith is becoming stronger in the Lord and I am uplifted and held accountable by my peers and my professors. It is an incredible feeling. Thank you so much for making it possible.
My father is a factory worker and my mother is manager of the Walmart bakery. Funds have always been tight. They became even tighter in April 2005 when I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my right knee. I received chemotherapy for 35 weeks including a treatment on my 12th birthday. I lost all my hair – twice, went down to 50 pounds and even slipped into a coma. It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Since 2005 I ’ve had 62 leg surgeries including five knee cap replacements, the last being a year ago this December, in order to be able to walk again. (I’m getting close!) On February 6, 2016 – Babe Ruth’s 121st birthday – I celebrated ten years of being cancer free! (Here’s a photo of me at my 10 year cancer-free anniversary party.)
In addition to beating cancer, while I was in the hospital I discovered the career I’m currently pursuing – a child life specialist. When I was diagnosed, I met a man named David who organized activities in the hospital for the patients – dog shows, circuses, visits from professional athletes and visits from many different organizations. He also helped us with our Make-A-Wish choices, held daily arts and crafts sessions, went to surgery or testing with us if our parents couldn’t be there and talked to us whenever we needed a friend. Things can get very lonely and sad in the hospital and anything that can help break the monotony or give kids something to look forward to and smile about is so worthwhile.
I can’t wait to graduate as a child life specialist and help kids like David helped me. For the past two summers, I have had the opportunity to work at Camp Rainbow, a summer camp for kids with cancer and blood related diseases as a staff member in the music department. I love that for one week those kids get to feel normal and experience something besides life within hospital walls. That they have a safe place where no one makes fun of them, where people understand what they’re going through and they get to run around and have fun!
I want to thank EALgreen not only for allowing me to get a college education, but to pursue the Lord in a wonderful place like Olivet. It is truly a dream come true.
God bless you,
Olivet Nazarene University
When asked about EALgreen, what we do and why we do it, I can’t think of a better explanation than letters and stories like shared by Courtney. I also believe in the power of innovation as demonstrated by the sustaining power of the EALgreen’s business model. Of course, because of EALgreen, our donors and the planet benefit too! Based on the repurposing and recycling of materials that corporations might consider excess or otherwise send to a landfill, our business model enables companies to support a circular economy and receive tax deductions while helping colleges like Olivet Nazarene and students like Courtney. Talk about holiday miracles!
Thank you for helping EALgreen play Santa Claus to students like Courtney and, in doing so, support a healthier, more ecologically balanced, and prosperous future for us all.
Wishing all of you the happiest of Holidays and an even better New Year. And please don’t forget we’d love to hear your comments whenever you wish to share them.