THANKSGIVING, A PERSONAL STORY … AND A QUESTION ANSWERED
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 … 8:57 A.M. …
Again this year, it poses a question for some of us: how do I properly express real Thanks for all I have been given?
The answer has long been alive within me, a very special gift I received long ago.
The late W. Clement Stone, American business tycoon, philanthropist, and social activist famously, years ago, wrote that answer for all to see:
“If you are really Thankful, what do you do? You share.”
His words have been read and heard and quoted by untold millions over the years.
No matter those millions, no person better understands how Clement Stone lived that simple but powerful truth than I.
In fact, his belief in sharing shapes and powers how I now spend my time.
I met Mr. Stone when I was 16, spoke with him but twice, “only” for mere minutes.
We met in Macon, Georgia, at a huge gathering of Boys Club of America – now Boys & Girls Club – benefactors. Widely broadcast on radio, and Mr. Stone and I were two of the program speakers.
He was for many years a national leader of the Boys Clubs, and I one of its products.
That I was sitting beside Mr. Stone during the program was a gift of grace which froze the moment in time.
It was mine that evening to speak of how the devoted volunteers at the Boys Club in Shreveport protected my friends and me from real risks and dangers as we grew from early childhood on our side of town.
As I ended, the crowded hall was all but silent, and as I returned to my place beside Clement Stone, it remained that way.
His emotional response in turn moved me. I searched for words most difficult to find.
During a few-minute broadcast program break, he leaned in to quietly ask me how I would manage to pay for college. I told him I would work my way through.
He smiled as gave me his card, mentioning that he had a Foundation which “helped with such things,” and asked me to write him when I returned home.
Of course, I did exactly that.
For weeks, then months, I received no response. In time, I decided I had misunderstood.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Stone called me. I will never forget his voice through that phone.
My letter had been lost, he explained, due to confusion among his “secretary’s secretaries.” After confirming a few details, he told me how I would next be contacted.
I never spoke with Clement Stone again.
His attorney and the President of the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation took care of everything.
For four years, the Louisiana Tech registrar received a check from the Foundation for my tuition, room and board. To my knowledge, my grades were never even checked.
I wrote Mr. Stone when I graduated, expressing my sincere gratitude. In his absence, his personal secretary responded, including this paragraph:
“Mr. Stone will be most proud to learn of the fine record you have made during your four-year college career. I believe you have thanked him properly by making good use of the opportunity he provided.”
And that was that. Another disciple of sharing delivered to the world.
His 2002 obituary noted that the Foundation passed along $275,000,000 to others, notably for early childhood development and education … particularly college education.
… Your money. Your time. Your knowledge and skill.
Such is your Thankfulness displayed.
I pray for everyone a rich and happy Thanksgiving …
© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED