“Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.” – The Dalai Lama, “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.”

Through the years, Powhatan has produced so many stories of people coming together, opening their hearts, and following the Golden Rule. Sometimes they do it with their love and support and sometimes with their actions.

It didn’t have to be a huge gesture to be meaningful. I remember how much appreciation was generated when a local teenage grocery store worker paid for the groceries of a single mother so she wouldn’t have to leave empty-handed.

But sometimes, big gestures can in turn have a huge impact, as recently was the case among Powhatan’s schools, both private and public. In these two unrelated stories, the one common denominator was that people with both good hearts and good resources opened not only their hearts but their checkbooks to make a difference.

The first of these great stories started at Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic School, which recently received more than $1 million in donations for campus improvements and technology upgrades. Those donations, as well as the promise of more, were made by Richmond residents Keith and Kathleen Brower in memory of their late granddaughter, Arabella Stuart Brower.

Arabella was 16 when she died of an undiagnosed heart condition in September 2015 before she could graduate from the local private school. In the time she was at Blessed Sacrament, she had a big impact. And the kindness and generosity she showed her school family led to an outpouring of love and support by her peers in the Class of 2016 that greatly moved her real family.

So when Kathleen Brower visited the campus and realized the school needed help for physical improvements, she and her husband decided to make a difference at the school that meant so much to their granddaughter. They also set up a scholarship fund in her honor. In doing so, the Browers have had a huge impact on current and future students and staff.

Our second story was slightly more recent. Last week, Karla Curtis surprised the majority of the school district with the announcement that she and her husband, Bob, would be donating more than $400,000 to Powhatan County Public Schools. The donations came in the form of a $25,000 scholarship fund, $45,000 to some of the key programs in the schools, and giving a $1,000 grant to every single teacher and counselor in the school district.

The couple is able to make this generous donation thanks to the sale of their company, PIEtech Inc. earlier this year for roughly $500 million.

When I attended the first announcement of the donations on Aug. 26, I was just as shocked as the teachers and staff at Powhatan Middle School learning about it. Curtis gave the same announcement at the four other schools, a few of which I attended.

The second and third time around, I will admit it felt good to have my camera pointed at the teachers in anticipation of the different stages of the announcements. When Curtis got to the part about giving teachers and counselors $1,000 with no restrictions because she and her husband know how hard they work and how much they sacrifice for their students, you could see how much her words were taken to heart.

We need the small stories about simple acts of kindness, but we also need the big stories about people with the means to do some good in the world actually stepping up and doing it. Because both stories are reminders that no matter where you are in life, you can be a positive influence on your community.

Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.

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