Two Roads.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

99-4-1 Part 2

So, the company has changed our 99-4-1 policy. Now, we must each earn our own 99-4-1's. Due to my achievements this year I have ONE to give away. People always ask, how do you know when a family is worthy of a 99-4-1? The easiest answer is just, you know. There is a stirring in your gut that makes them different than anyone else who sits in front of you. Everyone has a story. Some people think that could make it more difficult, but for me, it makes it easier. I have learned to trust that gut reaction and feeling. This past weekend I got it for what was only the second time this year. While interviewing families one of our newer counselors came up to me in the middle of the interview session to confide in me about what to do about a particular family she had been interviewing. She gave me a brief overview and I felt it...that gut feeling before I had even met them. I asked her, "if you had only one program to give away for free, would you give it to this family." She said without hesitation, "yes". I decided to switch places with her and told her to interview another family at my table while I went and sat with the family she had told me about. I went through the basic interview questions with the student. He was a tall, blonde, corn-fed and home grown country boy in a Georgia hat. It struck me HOW polite he was. A lot of student are polite with their "yes, ma'am's" but this was more than rehearsed manners. You could tell manners were just a part of his fiber. He was with both of his parents and his younger 8th grade brother. His brother was very very quiet, but also very polite. The student was a sophomore with a 3.7 GPA. He played football (of course) and wrestled, as well as being involved in a myriad of other activities. Come to find out the reason they were struggling with the price of the program was because the dad was on dialysis for 9 hours while he slept every night. He had been on the kidney transplant list for almost a year. If a donor cannot be found, and his dad is still around when he turns 18, he will go down to see if he is a match to donate. The dad even lifted up his shirt to show me the tubes coming out of his stomach and the bruising the dialysis caused. The mother was the only one bringing in income at about $1,200.00 a month. The student wants to study aeronautical engineering or chemical engineering. I asked him why he wanted to go to college. He said, "to make a better life for myself and help take care of my family." Then I asked the parents why they wanted him to go to college. His dad said, "because I don't know how much longer I am going to be around and I want to make sure my family is ok and taken care of." Tears started to run down his face and the mom was so shaken up that she couldn't even speak. I found myself starting to cry as well as I reached across the table and she grabbed my hand for strength. She said she just didn't know what to do. She knew they needed the help and she tried to crunch the numbers to make it work while she said she would try to make it work. I just....knew. While still holding her hand I looked at the student and told him that the reason why I had come over to talk to them was because I had a 99-4-1. I explained how it was based on Matthew 18 and although circumstances in their life were tough, they would now still get the help they needed to change some of those circumstances. The parents lost it. Tears were now free flowing down both of their faces and the mom set about hugging everyone at the table, including myself OVER the table. I am sure it was quite the scene. I asked them to please wait till the end of the interview process so we had time to go over the paperwork and they could meet my regional director. Once the team completed interviewing everyone in the room I brought them back to my table and went over the 99-4-1 paperwork. Reading the paperwork out loud to them was more difficult than I could imagine. It has a list of commitments like, "the parents will work with our coaches and support their student 100% through this process. The student will be 100% committed to college, etc." This is where the student started to get tears in his eyes. You could tell from his strength that he was use to being the rock, emotionally for his family. I had the family sign it and then went over all of their paperwork and services. The next several minutes were full of hugs, tears and photos. He promised to invite me to his high school graduation as well as get me gear and tickets to games for what ever school he will play at in college. I told him it will take great humility on my part to wear anything other than University of Texas, but to support him I would. At the very end the mom grabbed both of my hands firmly, looked me in the eyes and said, "I feel like I am suppose to tell you that whatever you do in life, you will be blessed." I said, "thank you," as tears welled up yet AGAIN in my eyes, but she clenched my hands harder and said, "no, you don't understand...you will be blessed." I told her not to give up because they could be five minutes away from their miracle. Before I had even left for the airport that day I received an email from the student that said: "You and everyone there have just changed my life. I just wanted to thank you again for this great opportunity to make my parents more proud of myself."