Last week Donnelly College hosted the annual Scholarship Dinner. My volunteer duties included time at the reception table and a stint outside welcoming attendees. Actually, the time outside The Jack Reardon Center was disguised as a welcoming gesture while the main purpose was to guard the four reserved parking spots insuring that only certain folks used those spaces. Jazmin, a Block Scholar, and I were asked to identify (how?) those allowed in the front and center slots and to move others quickly on and out. A stretch limo was the no-brainer, but the other choices had embarrassing moments.
Jazmin shivered in the steady breeze, her bare arms shaking as the time dragged and the fourth VIP failed to show. She continued to smile as we welcomed each person in the wonderfully diverse crowd.
We talked of our history in Kansas City, Kansas, the changes along Minnesota Avenue, the scheduled EPA exodus to Johnson County. We talked of the immense value of Donnelly College as a beacon of not only education but a beacon of ethnic diversity and understanding. We talked about the life changing Block Scholar Program. Jazmin had her goal, Civil Engineer, that would be reached because the Block Family understands the value of protecting and nurturing young people determined to pursue a degree.
A small car whipped around the barricades taking one of the reserved spaces. That noisy engine could not belong to the tardy VIP, right?
As I prepared to give my “Sorry” speech, an order priest dressed in the long brown robe, rope belt and sandals jumped from the car, head down, and hurried towards the Center.
Not five minutes prior, The Archbishop of the diocese entered a bit breathless from his long walk. How could I ignore the blatant move by the little car, give priority to Father X when the Archbishop did not command a reserved spot? How could I do that?
In the name of equality, diversity, parity and multiplicity I did that. We were freezing and there was plenty of space if the late arriving VIP happened to show. Besides, Jazmin and I were hungry.
There is so much that could be written about the evening, about the program, about Mr. Block’s caring speech, about tremendous spirit of giving evident during the pledge drive, about the filmed interviews with Block Scholars, their lives opened to the audience, about the attentive and efficient wait staff, and about the hard work that preceded the event.
Rather than those important aspects, I believe that a glass raised to Steven and to Matthew—to their lives, their determination, their openness—is a glass raised to the purpose and order of that evening.
These young men represent the Mission of Donnelly and of the Block Scholar program. Steven and Matthew stand with pride, owning life mistakes and growing successes. They own it all. It is a privilege to know them.