The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco is a classy, elegant, and in my late grandmother’s words a “fancy shmancy” place. Last week Thursday, I volunteered for the 12th Annual Students Rising Above Gala in the upscale Nob Hill hotel. My job was to smile and greet patrons upon first arrival. Tasks included welcoming visitors prior to donating financial support, encouraging bidding on auction items and having fun in the spirit of supporting young adults.
My first encounter with the organization was in the fall of 2013. HANG ART gallery in San Francisco asked me to be part of the A Lot of Good exhibit. A portion of an artwork sale would be donated to a worthy cause. My choice was the Students Rising Above organization and since that moment I was hooked.
According to their website: “The Students Rising Above community is dedicated to impacting the future through the cultivation of extraordinary youth. SRA invests in low-income, first generation college students who have demonstrated a deep commitment to education and strength of character while overcoming tremendous odds of poverty, homelessness, and neglect. We help each student to realize his or her potential by guiding and supporting them through college graduation, and into the workforce. Our graduates are breaking the cycle of poverty within their own families, serving their communities, providing a new generation of employees and leaders from diverse backgrounds, and accelerating positive change.”
Last year, I edited student essays for SRA students. It was a fantastic experience helping high schoolers focus dreams into words for college applications. In January, was given the opportunity to mentor a fabulous student. The best gift is being able to give back to an individual who wants to succeed. At Thursday’s gala, it was another way to contribute meaningfully.
Bottom line: education has been key to my success. Without it, opportunities would have been little to none. For the next 18 years, my $454.20 monthly student loan is a badge of honor with no regrets. That is fine with me. I hope to live to see the day when the balance is zero. However, education is priceless. Organizations like Students Rising Above uplift and provide hope. It just doesn’t get much better than that.