Last May, 2016 saw the Inaugural MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND Luncheon to benefit youth confronting homelessness by providing the opportunity for support in completing a college degree. The fund is administrated by the premier Chicago not-for-profit La Casa Norte. At the luncheon three scholarships were awarded.
To help build "cohort," to get to know their benefactor Michael and other staff of LCN, and to celebrate the season; a luncheon was held in the Community Room at one of La Casa Norte's facilities.
To begin the celebration, each person held the "Magic Wishing Wand" and shared their academic hopes for the future (students wishes for themselves and staff wishes for the students,) shared a "life lesson" dealing with pursuing an education and offered a wish for where they (students and staff) would be ten years from now.
Listening to these young people, and the LCN staff who supports them, added even more admiration and respect for the job LCN is doing to support these youth. Each person has such great advice, insight, and positive wishes and I was impressed and amazed!
My educational wish for the students is they they follow their passion. My life lesson is that there is no such thing as a mistake (unless you make the same one too often and do not learn from it) because each step you have taken has brought you to this wonderful place you are today. My ten year wish (I noted that in ten years I will be 82 and you could hear a gasp from the room which I took as a compliment on how young I look and act :-) is that I am still kicking and that the MTE EdFund would continue to grow to create an endowed future, and that we would all be together celebrating ten years of the student's educational and life progress and accomplishments.
The cohort is now up to nine students who have been awarded scholarships. By the next Luncheon Fund Raiser, we hope to be at 25 students! The "Education Students" are just beginning." The "Education/Housing Students" have been at it for a while and pretty much proven themselves.
Six of the students are education and housing recipients (including the three students who received scholarships at the Inaugural Luncheon,) and three are education recipients working towards housing support.
The concept is that as you prove your commitment and continue to work hard at accomplishing your academic goals, you will "add zeros" to your scholarship at each celebration. Each student received a Target Gift Card from me and a large sized check with the amount of their scholarship. The Education/Houseing Students also received a new computer.
Applause and tears all around.
Following is the text of my comments to the students:
Hi. My name is Michael Horvich. At this time of the year, I often am told that I look a lot like Santa Claus. I reply, “Look like? How about I AM Santa Claus!” It is an honor for me to be identified with this role!
Gregory, my life partner for 41 years, who died last October 4, 2015, lived with Alzheimer’s Disease for 12 years. The diagnosis was not a death sentence and he had a good life even as his abilities diminished. When we received his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, knowing that the road ahead would be a difficult one, we recommitted our love to each other saying, “I love you NOW … MORE THAN EVER.”
Gregory was not a VICTIM of Alzheimer’s but rather a HERO.
He was A HERO, much like the nine of you, who are part of the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND Cohort are HEROS.
You have confronted homelessness and difficult conditions … but were able to rise above them working with La Casa Norte and as you work towards completing an education … which will enable you to more successfully navigate your lives, armed to do great things for yourselves, as well as help support the others in your life.
Gregory and I have been involved with La Casa Norte almost since its inception.
Much like people talk about what they would do if they won the lottery, MANY YEARS ago, when we were YOUNG, Gregory and I talked about wishing we could help others in a significant way.
We talked about how this would look and decided that probably the BEST way to help was through supporting young people who were seeking to better themselves through getting an education … but who could not afford to do so.
Before his death, when Gregory and I re-visited our wills and re-evaluated our finances and investments, we realized that NOW THAT WE WERE OLD, we WERE in the position of doing good for others … to pay forward our own good fortune.
I called Sol Flores, Executive Director of La Casa Norte, and long time friend, and told her about our decision to make a sizable bequest in our will to La Casa Norte for the purpose of providing funds for educational support to the youth with whom they work.
That call was the catalyst for the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND and with the help of a portion of Gregory’s life insurance, I am pleased that we have been able to begin providing scholarships and other forms of education assistance NOW and do not have to wait for the bequest to take effect upon MY death.
I am SO grateful that La Casa Norte will be helping us fulfill this dream of ours. I am grateful that I am getting too know you students as well! WE LOVE … EVERYTHING about La Casa Norte!
My final thoughts for you … are to always keep in mind how much you have accomplished. You have been through difficult times, you have leapt hurtles and if presented with new ones, will do so again. Life is never easy for those who work to get ahead. But it IS rewarding.
I trust that each one of you will take advantage of the new opportunities made available to you through La Casa Norte, will take advantage of your cohort as you build friendships and academic support, and benefit from the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND.
I BELIEVE in you and am thrilled to be part of your experience, I look forward to watching you grow and learn, and to be by your side to support you.
On returning home, I received this e-mail from Emily, LCN Youth In College Program Coordinator It warmed my heart.
On behalf of the Youth in College team and the youth Cohort, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words, commitment and generosity today. I cannot tell you how many staff and youth came up to me, completely moved by your speech and love today. We are so proud to have you on our team as you radiate love, compassion and wisdom to our youth. Every one of our youth expressed a deep desire to get to know you more and have you as an integral part of their learning community. Happiest of Holidays to you and we cannot wait to see you again,