About 30 years ago I met the person who would inspire me in so many ways, and especially in my understanding of gratitude. He had been graced with a second chance before we met and carried with him a constant appreciation for that and for those who helped him along his sometimes difficult journey. It motivated him to give to others whatever help and opportunities he could.
Those who know me well know that I’m talking about my husband, Steve. He died almost six years ago but he left an indelible mark. Not just on me, but also on his immediate family and the large extended family he coached and mentored.
While still grieving, I decided the best way to honor his legacy would be to create a scholarship fund in his name so Steve could continue to make the world a little easier for those who crossed his path.
Last week, I presented the second Stephen P. Donatone Scholarship – endowed through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation – to Alex Donnelly. The unique thing about this scholarship is that it follows the student for as long as they are in school, so Alex can renew it through his studies at the Culinary Institute of America.
During the ceremony, I received a surprise call from the first recipient. Sade Donald was a young woman from Chicago when I first met her (below), just leaving high school with an infectious smile and big plans.
Today, she is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and shows off that smile when she talks about working as a pastry chef in New York City, just as she dreamt she would.
To see and hear about her transformation was powerful, to say the least.
Of the many emotions that I felt during the call, the most profound was my sense of gratitude. I was thankful to Sade for the call and for using Steve’s gift exactly as he would have intended it. And, once again, I was thankful to Steve, for still showing me the beauty of paying it forward.
Photo Credits National Restaurant Association Education Fund.