Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is always looking forward, but over the last week, I’ve thought a whole lot about legacy, what we leave behind. The accident that claimed five lives, the massive car pile up in southern Maine, even the recent losses closer to home remind us all that although life is brief, our lives matter. Our time on earth creates our legacy. The question is: what do you want that legacy to be?
What’s your legacy?
In May last year, I had the incredible gift of watching over a dozen facial expressions at the moment I informed a student that he or she had become a Gauvin scholar. Each one understood the changing life declaration that gift was, and I’ve realized over the last year, their lives were not the only lives changed. Ours were too. AAI is better, stronger because of each of our Gauvin Scholars. I remember one Scholar kept repeating, “No way! There is just no way this is happening to me!” Other Scholars simply burst into tears, and others smiled so wide, they could have lit a runway. Ray and Sandy Gauvin, AAI’s Founders, their love, their passion, and their legacy made these reactions possible. Their gift allows Aroostook students a chance at the lives they dream about. Previous to AAI, Ray and Sandy had a foundation that awarded scholarships for over ten years. Many of those past Gauvin Scholars now have children of their own. With a 97% degree attainment rate, Ray and Sandy didn’t just affect the lives of their Scholars; future lives were made better because those Scholars chose a path of education, and because Ray and Sandy committed resources to help that choice become a realty. College dreams became degree realties. That is a lasting legacy, and one they’ve worked on to perpetuate with AAI’s mission and focus. The most amazing part of AAI? You can be a part of that legacy. You can be a piece of our success, the success of our program and of our Scholars.
A legacy isn’t always about a one-time donation to charity X,Y or Z. Often, it’s about a commitment to a value, to a belief over a span of time. My program calls this type of donation a sustaining donor. A donor who says, “I will stand here with you; we will lock arms, and we will fight this good fight together.” That is creating a legacy, a legacy that will pass on from generation to generation. When you invest with AAI, the Gauvin Scholars, the kids whose lives you help change, become your legacy tellers. Their lives will tell the story of your gift, of your belief, of your commitment to Aroostook County. I don’t know about you but that’s the legacy I want to leave.
I know that a good chunk of my legacy is Aroostook Aspirations Initiative. Not because I started it, because I didn’t. Not because I gave an enormous amount of money during its first stage of development, because I didn’t. But what I do give, and what I give every month is at least 5% of my income. Some people might try to hide how much they give back, especially to the organization they work for, but I will not. I believe in this organization, in the Scholars, in what we do every day. That’s why I give. I give because of a legacy passed on to me, “If you have you give; if you can you do.” I have and I give because I can so I do. A legacy my paternal grandfather passed on to my father, one he passed on to me, one I passed on to my children, and a legacy I strengthen each day through my work with AAI.
Legacies are hard to come by because they tend to represent what is most important to us, and because they are so important we often keep them to ourselves. We need to break the silence! Let’s break the silence TOGETHER! Write your legacy down, what you want to be remembered for, what is important to you, and snap a selfie. Post it on Facebook, Tweet it, Google it, Linked ‘In it. Let’s show the world what our legacies are. It’s more than a mission, it’s the actions of the everyday that make a nonprofit worthy of your commitment. It is the people who run it, the volunteers who staff it; the actions that reflect it.
We would love for you to join our legacy. Our mission is to reverse outward migration, fund Scholar programming, give back to our communities, and partner with Aroostook businesses to help build a stronger Aroostook. Our Scholars are the next generation of legacy leavers in Aroostook. They could certainly use your support, and we could definitely use more people in the world just like you: ready to make the commitment, ready to invest in the next generation of leaders in Aroostook. I’m ready to create my legacy, join with me, join AAI and create yours!