My Story - Dawn Waarich
This incredible story from a mother's perspective describes the lasting impact on her daughter, family, and friends.
Yeah, I was That Mom…
Pay It Forward came into our lives in late December 2007. Our daughter was a freshman in high school at the time. I remember she came home from school very excited telling us about this multi-city community service bus tour her teacher had spoke to her class about. Her excitement was infectious, I told her I would have to check my work schedule and see if I could take off and let her know if I could go.
Imagine my shock when she said I couldn’t go! Yeah, I was that Mom, the one who took off work to chaperone every field trip! Now, I was being told I couldn’t go and to make matters worse none of her friends were going. I looked at my husband and gave him one of my “are we nuts?” looks as we agreed to let her go.
Over the next few days communication was once a day, for a few minutes, she seemed tired but was having a great time. She had a new Pay It forward “family” and she learned how to bus surf and they seemed to be speaking a different language. What I wasn’t prepared for was when I put my little girl on that coach bus, that she would come home to us a strong service conscientious young woman.
As she reminisced and discussed the Tour with us, I was proud and touched on how she had grown and how through this Tour and serving others her self confidence had developed and how grateful she was for the “little things, like a hot shower and a comfy bed”.
Over the next few years my daughter would help recruit, market and advocate Pay It Forward tours at her school. She would speak about making hammocks for monkeys and how appreciative the zookeepers were. The impact of the smiles on the senior citizens faces showing how grateful they were for their company. And when all of the trees (600) were planted, they knew they were not only helping the environment but saving a very small staff time and effort.
Fast forward, it is now 2011, my daughter is a senior in high school and I am very proud to say she has participated in a Tour each year of school and was a bus leader on one of the Tours. We recently hosted a “bus” sleepover which represented 4 different schools and 20 Pay It Forward “family” members were able to attend.
My daughter was a Cheerleader for all four years of high school and Varsity Captain for three years. She is not your typical cheerleader and the fact that Pay It Forward takes the time to teach kids about abolishing stereotypes is very uplifting. Your life lessons through group activities are so rewarding and appreciated. As a parent, I have witnessed the growth and self-confidence these Tours have helped build and the friendships that may never have happened.
Recently and through tears, I had the pleasure of witnessing this exchange with a member of my daughter’s cheer squad joined the Tour this year, she said, “For two years I kind of made fun of you, I didn’t understand why you were so passionate about Pay It Forward, now I get it and I am so sorry, it has changed my life forever, thank you!” With that exchange they both hugged.
My daughter turned and looked at me just smiled! I am so very proud, yeah I am that Mom!!
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My Story - Ayoola "Ay" Okuribido
STLF shaped Ay's college experience and prepared him future leadership skills