Sean Tokic works in Corporate Strategy and Development at UMB Bank and is a member of the CEF Futures Leadership Council.
As I entered the back parking lot of Holy Name Catholic School, I was drawn in by the endearing sounds of laughter and children at play. It was a special day.
It was the day the CEF staff, along with many of my fellow CEF Futures Board members, were invited to tour an institution funded by CEF. Principal Amanda Vega-Mavec showed us around the school, which educates 134 students day in and day out, 114 of whom received CEF scholarships last year. She walked us through the computer room that doubles as the math room and through the hallways lined with lockers and the children’s artwork. Students waved when we peeked into their classrooms and we waved back, virtually all of us grinning from ear to ear.
The children began exiting the classrooms; it must be time for lunch! Chicken nuggets, potato scallops, pineapples, peas & carrots, and a chocolate milk. Now this was the lunch we had been waiting for. After moving through the lunch line, I noticed a table full of first and second graders had made room for me and were calling me over. These children were so full energy. Talk of kickball, their like of math class, the books they enjoyed in their library, the art area behind the curtain on the east side of the lunch hall where many mentioned they also would sing “songs from Mass” two days a week. I could have spoken with these students for the remainder of the day and would not have run out of subjects to talk about.
Our table had finished eating and I mentioned how tasty lunch was as I finished my milk. A young student by the name of Brandon, seeing I had finished my milk, informed me that he had one dollar in his pocket and that he would like to buy me another milk. What a simple gesture, right? I was speechless and my heart became very heavy. A young man willing to share what little he had with a complete stranger? I then peered around the table at each of the students and imagined the complicated circumstances many of these children must face outside of Holy Name’s walls.
The longer I sat at this table the stronger my attachment to these students became. I was reminded of God’s grace in every student I met, every laugh I heard, every high-five received. I believe God is always talking to us and his message to me that day was clear: these students are our future. They will carry God’s values and good works to the end of time, and their development is of the utmost importance. I admit I am more proud than ever to be a part of the mission at CEF, and I look forward to the work left to complete.
It was a special day indeed.