Something special happens when we get together with friends who share a long and common history. It might be high school teammates, college roommates or colleagues we worked with building a project or company.
Those relationships have the unique ability to stand the test of time and even if years pass with little or no contact the conversation can pick up as if we were all just together yesterday.
Inside jokes, life changing moments and common experiences are the fabric of these reunions. I always love it when I find myself laughing just as hard at the retelling of a story that happened decades ago as I did when it happened the first time.
Recently I was invited to join a birthday celebration with a group of friends who had been close in high school and gathered about once or twice a year to catch up. I was a bit worried about tagging along, as I knew that I would have no clue what they were talking about for most of the night.
But actually it was fun to observe them and listen in as they reminisced. Eventually the conversation turned to recalling specific people from their past that they had lost touch with over the years. It was a roll call of classmates and they pondered the question, “whatever happened to Bob, Jill, Tom, or that guy that took you to Prom?”
Even in this day of extreme connectivity through technology and social media, we lose touch with people. Our lives begin to go in different orbits and seasons of life change. Staying connected takes an intentional effort in our fast paced society.
Each year the Southwest Florida Community Foundation awards close to 100 scholarships to local students to assist them in pursuing post-secondary degrees and certifications. As you can imagine we become connected to the recipients through the application and interview process. Many times we meet their families and we communicate with them as they are beginning their new path in life.
In some cases we are also able to arrange a meeting between the scholarship donor and their recipients, which creates a special bond. But several years ago I would overhear our team, scholarship donors, and application reviewers ask the “whatever happened to Bob?” question.
As close as we became to the recipients for a short period of time, we were losing touch with them as they transitioned to a new chapter in their lives. Once in a while a student would reach back out to us or connect on our Facebook page and we would all be so excited to receive the updates.
When donors establish funds to support a student with tuition for technical colleges or universities their vision is to create a fulfilling career. No one establishes a scholarship for the purpose of just getting a student into school, but rather to assist them in getting done and connected to a job, and a fulfilling career.
This makes the “whatever happened to Bob?” critically important in this conversation.
At the Foundation we are creating ways for donors to support students throughout their education rather than just first year funding, we are opening lines of communication that are easily maintained so we don’t lose touch. We are launching a pilot that enables students to create LinkedIn accounts that will assist them both in college and their future professional lives. And of course the link will be our lasting bond hopefully long after the college days.
We want to create relationships that stand the test of time and conversations that can pick up right where they left off. This way we won’t be measuring how many scholarships were awarded but how many lives were changed.
Watch for our announcement and list of 2016 scholarship recipients. And, if you want in on being a change-maker, just give us a call because setting up scholarship funds is one of our favorite things to do.