Allison’s dream, as it was first shared with me…by my sister!
Calling in the calvary – the DHS Alumni group
To donate to the “Adopt A Gator” campaign follow this link:
The last time I saw Allison (Farris) Fox was in May of 2010. Before that, I’d met her for either dinner or lunch in the Spring of 1993 in San Antonio right before I graduated from college. Before that…High school graduation? Her parents packed up and moved to San Antonio shortly thereafter. Allison and I were probably closest…when we were in fifth grade.
So when my older sister Stephanie passed on a Facebook Messenger message from Allison to me late Friday night a week and a half ago, I was a little surprised. Or should I say “terrified”?
Allison had a big idea. She’d already enlisted Eric Driskell, a.k.a. Cat Daddy. Allison knew Cat wouldn’t be able to say “no” to helping the people of Dickinson. Now she wanted my help. Her vision was to raise money so that students of cash strapped families in Dickinson recovering from Hurricane Harvey could still attend college.
I was immediately overcome with a wave of nausea. I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep that night. This is how I react when I know I have to do something hard that I’m not sure I can do.
The following day, I pulled in two key resources. The first was Karen Beauchaw, who runs the DHS Alumni group. She was my neighbor growing up. Karen and her husband, Wayne, were surrogate parents to me. I knew she would help, although I didn’t know exactly what I was asking for. It was Karen who captured Allison’s vision into a perfect sound byte – “Adopt A Gator”.
I then reached out to Bernie Smiley. Since Bernie agreed to be interviewed for my blog, I’m pretty sure we’ve interacted more since than we ever did as kids. Bernie is a professor at College of the Mainland (COM). He could validate Allison’s vision and maybe give me some ideas. He had spent the earlier part of the week ripping up carpets in his home in League City but was now driving to a nostalgic concert in Nacogdoches when he took my call.
Bernie’s take was that it was a GREAT idea and that, in fact, he had planned to challenge his department to donate to a similarly aimed COM scholarship. He began talking to me enthusiastically about the kids we could help and the different possibilities across different programs. His passion for the idea was on par with his passion for music, which, if you know him at all, is saying something!
Less than a week after Allison first reached out to Eric and I, we had a functioning web page that laid out what we were doing and why and could accept “Adopt A Gator” donations to College of the Mainland. The “Adopt A Gator” campaign accepted its first “word of mouth” donations over the weekend! Tomorrow September 12th, we launch “Adopt A Gator” in earnest.
With that in mind, I’d like to explain what we’ve done and why…
First, pictures are worth more than words. You can hear Allison speak about this project, follow this link:
“Adopt A Gator” is a fundraising campaign that is entirely focused on helping Dickinson students adversely effected by Harvey and enrolled at DHS in 2017-2018 attain their education goals exclusively through COM. “Adopt A Gator” is not its own foundation.
The team (Allison, Eric, Bernie, and I) emphasized 1) getting something in place quickly and 2) providing financial aid for college to as many as possible of the DHS students who needed it most. In other words, our mission and COM’s capabilities were a natural match.
In addition, we could leverage COM’s foundation such that all the proceeds of your donations went directly to funding students’ education. We were not required to cover any administrative expenses, which often run as high as 10%; COM leverages their existing staff to run their foundation for “free”. Even if you pay with a credit or debit card, the full amount you donate goes into the scholarship fund.
Furthermore, we could establish the criteria for who received awards, as well as name the group of people to review and score applications to the “Adopt A Gator” fund. Bernie Smiley is leading that team! Bernie is the perfect choice – he has dedicated his career to helping these types of students.
Students will be eligible for awards across three different COM programs:
- Full-time COM => high school graduates who enroll at COM
- Dual Credit => high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors that can rack up 30+ hours of college credits for which they also get credits toward their high school graduation; if fully leveraged, may reduce four year college costs by as much as 25% at a fraction of the cost
- Collegiate High School =>motivated high school juniors and senior who can attain an associate’s degree from COM before they graduate from HS; may reduce four year college costs by 50%
Each of us is funding a scholarship and we challege you to join us! We are excited to do this for our community in a time of need! Give if you can, especially if you were fortunate enough to be outside Harvey’s path of destruction. Here’s the link:
You’ll be hearing from us…G.A.T.A Gators!