Personal Touch Pays Dividends … and Sometimes Money

Evan Corns (left), Vanita Oelschlager and DeMaurice Smith are elected into the Ohio Foundation of Independent College’s Hall of Excellence in May 2010.

Back in May 2010, I was deeply moved by a story of a personal touch that made all of the difference in the world.

Vanita Oelschlager, a graduate of Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, shared a touching story of her college president. Oelschlager was inducted, along with Evan Corns and DeMaurice Smith, into the Ohio Foundation of Independent College’s Hall of Excellence, and spoke at the event.

Oelschlager talked about how her parents wanted her to go to a Methodist college. She and her family were living in Pittsburgh, and she decided to go to Mount Union, following a couple of friends.

Adjusting to the independent living of college was difficult for Oelschlager. She was homesick and longed to be back in Pittsburgh with her family. Dr. Carl Bracy, the school’s sixth president, would often talk to her, and, in so doing, he lifted her spirits.

I hope I am remembering this story correctly, but I believe years later she ran into the president. As I recollect the story, Bracy approached her and said, “You probably don’t remember me ….”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Bracy had a deep impact on Oelschlager, more than he would ever know. The encounter was an emotional one, and when she shared that story, there were a number of eyes with tears flowing, mine included.

That personal touch by a college president to a homesick girl had a profound impact on Oelschlager’s life. In her life, she and her husband did well for themselves. Oelschlager became very involved in her alma mater and made significant donations to the school. In fact, when the school was building a new science facility, Oelschlager and her husband made a generous contribution and persuaded the board to name the building after Bracy.

We will never know the impact of our actions when we decide to touch another person’s life. When we give ourselves selflessly to others, it will pay dividends, and sometimes those dividends might return to us in money. But, if it doesn’t, that is OK because it’s hard to beat a life touched by joy and grace.

Has somebody touched your life? Share your story in the comments section.

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