weather icon Clear

Be Like Coke

In the late 60s, Cheryl, my future mother-in-law, received a surprise telephone call that changed her life forever.

A young, recently divorced, single mother of two small children, she barely had the means to provide for herself, much less her family. She wanted a college education but didn’t see a realistic path to get one.

That’s when she received the unexpected call. It was her ex-husband’s uncle Coke, a well-off businessman who had made his fortune in pharmaceuticals. Coke invited Cheryl to his office. He had three daughters of his own, but none of them were interested in college at the time. So, he wanted to pay for Cheryl’s college tuition, apartment, and day care instead. She was, naturally, overwhelmed but graciously accepted.

Despite the financial assistance, Cheryl had to work hard for her degree while raising two toddlers and holding down a job as a waitress at JB’s. But three tenacious years later, she met and married the love of her life and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Houston.

Cheryl went on to raise a beautiful family, working for a few years as an elementary school teacher, eventually earning her master’s degree in human resources from the University of Texas, then working for the Texas state comptroller’s office and later for Motorola. More importantly, she always used her education to bless the lives of many others. But over fifty years later, she still has never forgotten Coke’s unsolicited kindness and generous financial gift.

Last Saturday, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) brought its home tour back to Boulder City after a three-year hiatus precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was the Boulder City chapter’s 46th home tour, a popular event that raises funds to provide college scholarships to local women. My wife and I were privileged to be one of the six homes on the tour, which is what reminded me of the philanthropy my mother-in-law received so long ago.

In the coming year, AAUW will provide more than $6 million to 285 recipients to help women pursue higher education and foster community projects that assist and strengthen them.

Globally, AAUW has awarded over $135 million to more than 13,000 scholars and organizations, making it one of the largest women’s scholarship programs in the world.

You don’t have to be a member of AAUW or agree with everything it stands for to admit that its scholarship program is pretty impressive. Nor to acknowledge that the home tour funds our local chapter raises go to support worthy causes.

Now, lest you think that AAUW and home tours are only for women, know that several of the opposite sex participated as well. In fact, of the 400 tickets sold, I’d wager that at least a fourth of the tour participants were men. Sorry, guys, if I’m ratting you out. If you want to, you can still pretend that your wife just dragged you along as a reluctant companion on threat of banishment to the doghouse. But it sure looked like you were having a good time, too!

The tour wasn’t just for Boulder City residents either. Just eye-balling it, I’d say that over half of you visited from elsewhere to enjoy our world away for a day. Hopefully all of you, both residents and non-residents, had a chance to spend some time in our local shops or enjoy a nice meal at one of our restaurants while you were out touring.

Most of us don’t have surprise benefactors quite like Uncle Coke. But all of us needed lots of help to get where we are today and to become what we’ve become. There’s not a living soul who doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to someone. And often those debts are so large that it would be impossible to ever repay them. Assistance comes in many forms, whether financial, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. I, for one, have a mile-long list of creditors that includes parents, teachers, scholarship donors, public servants, professional associates, family members, and friends, to name just a few.

I should thank everyone on my list much more than I do. And you should thank everyone on your list, too. Even if you thank one person on your list every day for the rest of your life, I’ll bet that you still never make it to the bottom of the list. I’m 100% certain that I won’t make it to the bottom of mine.

But today, that’s not my primary challenge to you. Instead, my challenge is more of a question. And that question is this: What are you going to do in the coming year to be a little more like Uncle Coke? Who are you going to help, even in a small, non-financial way, without any expectation of repayment? There’s no better way to repay a debt of gratitude than to pay it forward by helping others who can’t help themselves. Even (or maybe especially) when you do it anonymously. So, go and do thou likewise. Be like Coke!

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube

A topic that’s been on the minds of several as of late, including city staff and council, has been short-term vacation rentals and whether or not to allow their existence in Boulder City.

The Consciousness of Love

Where did love go? The kindness in our world seems to have dissipated. When I go into a coffee shop, I witness almost everyone distracted from other human beings by their cell phone or computer.

Just call me Ron-Boy

As some of you know, I grew up here in Boulder City having started school in sixth grade at Garrett Junior High.

Keeping our waters safe

Lake Mead National Recreation Area prioritizes the safety of its visitors by conducting regular water testing at beaches and hot springs.

It’s just a piece of paper, right?

I’m not sure if it is because the Spousal Unit and I are now empty-nesters or if it is leftover influence from that Netflix show called “Swedish Death Cleaning,” but a substantial portion of my weekends for the past few months has been trying to sort through and eliminate some of the “stuff” that has taken over the house.

Can a song help reduce military, veteran suicides?

For too many years now, the growing problem of military personnel and veterans (as well as civilians), taking their own lives has been seemingly unsolvable.

Fighting the fentanyl epidemic

You can’t see it, smell it or taste it, but there is a dangerous drug killing about 150 people every day in the U.S.: fentanyl. Right here in Boulder City, three people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2022. This year, that number has nearly doubled – five deaths, and we still have two more months before the year ends.

Many reasons for giving thanks

In just three weeks, millions of families will gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, a time for reflection and for recognizing what is special to you and your family. The past year has been full of challenges and changes for me, and I am sure you have encountered the same. This year, I’ve been thinking about all of the reasons that I am thankful.

Former principal will be missed

“That’s all the good news I have for today. Take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other. Have a great Andrew J. Mitchell Day!”