We've grown 4,000%!
43 college participants in 2003 , 1700 college participants in the coming weeks! Eight years ago, 43 people went on the first-ever Pay it Forward Tour. This year, there will be about the same number of college Tours as there were participants from that first year! Mathematically, that's a growth of 4,000%!!
Author: Irene Fernando
Eight years ago, 43 people embarked on the first-ever Pay it Forward Tour. Leaving from outside our dorm of Territorial Hall (see photo below), we were part of a journey that has changed my entire life. I remember at the end of the Tour on the bus ride back to Minneapolis from Washington DC, we were completely elated... laughing, sharing stories, reflecting. A lot of our energy was centered on the 43 of us, and I remember the question being posed: "Isn't it going to be awesome when there are 43 buses at the same time??"
And that's happening right now!
In just the next few weeks, we will have more college Tours than we did participants that first year! Literally 1,600 college students will be traveling around the country, engaging in service, building lasting friendships, and being committing to action.
On that first Tour, we visited Canton, OH and STLF was named "Ambassadors of Leadership and Goodwill" (see photo below). Eight years later, STLF is continuing to work with our friends in Canton, with three different Tours visiting that city. This is just one example of how STLF has been able to build long-lasting partnerships with communities around the country.
Looking back, I am even more impressed when I think about the leaders and the participants! From that first Pay it Forward Tour in 2004, we now have teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, executives, mothers, fathers, and friends. Most importantly, we have a group of people that are inspired to make a positive impact in the world. I am truly excited to see what the world will look like in just a few years, with more STLF alumni impacting the world every single day!
The relationships and experiences from the Pay it Forward Tour that first year helped shape the leader I am today. There are over 250 college leaders volunteering their time in order to get all of these buses on the road... revealing their leadership in an environment full of service, authentic relationships, and inspiration.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey! Let's get excited for many more years :).
Top left - Tour departure outside of our freshmen year dorm, Territorial Hall
Top right - Canton names STLF "Ambassadors of Leadership and Goodwill"
Bottom left - Hanging out at our last rest stop before home to Minneapolis
Bottom right - Meet and greet with Ed Rendell (Governor of PA at the time)
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My Story - Maddie Woiwode
Maddie felt immediately welcomed to her first STLF meeting... and six years later, there is no stopping her!