Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 25, 2013

Southern exposure: Gone but not forgotten

Tami Wenning
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — A man I’ve never met is responsible for making my daughter the happiest she’s ever been.

I’ll never get to meet him, but because of his foresight and his generosity, she is getting to experience college without any limitations.

Everything I’ve ever heard about Mr. Frank Braden has been good. Sadly, I haven’t gotten to hear enough about him.  I’d love to talk to different people who have won the scholarship that is named after him. I’d love to do a series of columns about what sort of experience they had at Depauw and where their education has taken them.

The gentleman who interviewed my daughter for the scholarship spoke fondly of the man who had mentored him when he returned to Decatur County from college.  He, too, had a dream of wanting to make a difference.  And, when he came up with an idea, someone said he should take his idea to Mr. Frank Braden.

He did and Mr. Braden was impressed — so impressed that he accompanied the young man to the local radio station and the local newspaper and suggested that they give him some airtime and free press so he could share his idea with the public.

Within a few short months, enough money was raised to help the young man accomplish his goal and the airport runway was paved. That same young man has had a wonderful career and was also privileged to copy down Mr. Braden’s wishes when it came to what he’d like to see in a scholarship.

The day that man interviewed my daughter, he pulled out those same scribbled notes from years ago to remind him of what Mr. Braden was looking for in a scholarship recipient.

I got to talk to another local gentleman that used to drive Mr. Braden to Kiwanis meetings. When we were discussing our daughter’s love of Depauw and how well she is doing in her first year, he smiled and said that she sounds exactly like the kind of person to whom Mr. Braden would have wanted to give his scholarship.

Our daughter is extremely quiet, but I don’t think she’s shy.

She is an introvert and a deep thinker.  We’re dismayed and elated at the same time, but it doesn’t seem like she’s been homesick a minute.

We’re happy she’s happy to be there. She’s excited to be in a place where she can speak her mind and use her fifty-cent words and everyone around her gets it.

Whenever someone asks where she’s going to college, I tell them “Depauw” but I always feel like I have to add, “but only because she got the Braden Scholarship,” because there is no way we could have afforded the college.

It is a perfect fit for her. I’m not sure why I started writing about this, but I think it can serve a couple of purposes.

First, if you’ve got money running out of your ears and no heirs to leave it to, you would always be remembered fondly if you create a scholarship. If Mr. Braden has family reading this, thank you!

Second, if you have a child that wants to go to college and you feel it is out of your reach, think again.

Our community is blessed with so many opportunities. I know that some scholarships go unrewarded because no one applies for them.

You don’t have to go online and look for those obscure scholarships that you can win if you’re a goat-milking champion or create your own prom dress from duct tape. We have such wonderful organizations right here in our hometown that can help you and the dollar amount of scholarships that are awarded annually is so impressive.

Your student should go to their guidance counselor now and make sure that they are applying for everything they are eligible for through the Decatur County Community Scholarship Foundation and the Decatur County Community Foundation.

You need to be getting your taxes done so you can complete the dreaded FAFSA form or you’ll be ineligible for most scholarships. But, it is worth the time and trouble to see your child be right where they belong.  And, that being said, not every child wants or needs to go to college. Some are good with their hands and others are good with their hearts and their heads.

There is a place where each of us can exercise the skills and talents that we were born with. I’m glad we’re not all alike because it would be boring and probably kind of annoying, too. There wouldn’t be much to talk about because we’d already all be on the same page.

I was just feeling grateful and thought that I’d like to share the fact that good things can and do happen to people right here in Decatur County. Actually, because of Mr. Braden’s generosity, there were two Braden Scholarships awarded in 2012.

If any other Braden Scholars or their parents or family members would like to give me a call and share their experiences, I’m in the phone book. (Yes, the real phone book. We’re boring and still have a land-line!)

Use these late-winter blah days to get all of your paperwork done so you can go outside as soon as we have a spring-like day.

I’ve already gotten a seed catalog and I’m looking forward to my spring greens. I’m afraid it’ll be a little while yet. Until then, it’s paperwork, housekeeping and keeping in touch with my kids.

Take care and I’ll try to be a little more regular.

Thanks to those of you who have said something to me about missing the column.

You’re the reason I try when I can.