As I watched the coverage of the two massive hurricanes that touched on American shores in the past few weeks, the images that most stuck in my mind were those of the many rescues in Texas by neighbors with bass boats or “neighbors” coming from as far away as Louisiana, and the emphasis in Florida over and over again by Governor Scott to heed the warnings because, “I can rebuild your home but I can’t rebuild your life.” All the rescues of people who had no warning in Texas perhaps made people in Florida grateful to be warned and in the mood to heed the warning.
Harvey and Irma also reminded me again of how little control we have over some very life-changing events, and how precious and vulnerable every life is. Even with all the weather knowledge that sophisticated 21st century technology has given us, no one really knew where and how these storms would deliver their biggest blows.
When our sophisticated systems fell short, it was simple bass boats that made the difference between life and death.
I am blessed to work for an organization that has always been more of a bass boat than a sophisticated weather device. In the vein of the earnest governor from Florida, one of our co-founders, Ted Forstmann, often said, “If you save a life, you save the world.” While we steadfastly keep an eye on the “weather” or the big picture of ensuring educational opportunity for all children, we count it as success every time we help a child get access to their own lifeboat in the form of a scholarship.
I have always marveled that mothers cry when they learn their child has received a scholarship or they express gratitude that seems far beyond what a scholarship could possibly mean. But when I saw my own niece, her husband, and their two little girls being rescued from their house in West Houston in a bass boat, I understood a little better what it might feel like.