“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometime lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” – Richard Attenborough.
I spent some time with my daughter Michaela last week. She was in Washington, D.C. to address the Gates Millennium Scholars, young African Americans, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Hispanic Americans, and Asian American/Pacific Islanders.
The Gates Millennium Program began because Bill and Melinda Gates had an idea. What would happen, they posited, if kids like these could go to the university of their dreams? AND WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF MONEY WAS TAKEN OFF THE TABLE? And then, they did something about it. They established the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which is administered by the United Negro College Fund, and endowed it with a 1.6 BILLION dollar grant. Each year, there are 5,000 Gates Scholars. Michaela was speaking to the 2015 kids. She’s an award winner herself, my Michaela. Just recently, the NAACP of New York distinguished her with the Phenomenal Woman Award at the centennial celebration. The city of New York proclaimed her a “Trailblazer” and the Feminist Press honored her for her “empowerment” of women.
As she told me about the Gates Scholars, there were tears in her eyes. And in mine. ” There they were,” she said, “a ballroom full of these kids, wearing tee shirts from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and other Ivy League universities.” The scholarships will take them through graduate programs, even as far as a PhD, if they so desire. These kids came from neighborhoods and family environments that were sad and hard, harder than we could ever imagine. Against incredible odds, they made the cut and qualified for a Gates Scholarship. They sat there, looking up at her, smiling, a brighter future in front of them than they might have wished for in their wildest dreams. Michaela said she was so overcome with emotion she could hardly speak. Sometimes hope is hard to look at directly. Like the sun.
Later, as I waited with Michaela for her train back to New York, the station began to fill with Gates Scholars, on their way back to school. She was greeted and hugged by one after the other, and, through my joyful tears, I could see that healing spirit in every smiling face. “I believe God gave Bill Gates Microsoft so that he could do this,” she said.
The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney is available at http://www.Amazon.com and at the News Center in Easton, MD.