Over the last weeks, God has been showing me the importance of asking and communicating the "Why."
We were devastated that morning, December 15, 2002, when we learned that our son Tim had been in a horrific accident and that he did not survive. Months that followed revealed a plan and a purpose for this life-changing event for our family.
Early in 2003, a new organization in Tim's memory evolved. The organization's very foundation became Isaiah 40:31, and our symbol, a soaring eagle. I never asked why but moved forward under this divine direction.
On February 16, 2003, the Timothy L Correll Foundation was born. Our mission was to strengthen the numbers of health care and emergency service workers serving Minnesota communities and to do this through scholarships and grants for firefighting, paramedic, and nursing training.
Some weeks ago, I learned the "why" behind this divine guidance. I never knew that an eagle flies into a storm and pushes forward in the forces that rage and will rise above it. Emergency responders and health care workers are like eagles when emergencies and disasters happen.
Then I thought about our frontline workers right now and their heroic actions in the battle against COVID-19.
The Timothy L Correll Foundation is in our 18th season of being in the business of helping Minnesota communities prepare for times of emergency. We have tried our absolute best to press forward with our mission even in hard times.
During the 2008-2009 economic crisis, TLCF was busy. Instead of putting on the brakes, we pressed forward. We awarded 12 scholarships to individuals and four grants to local fire departments and ambulance services for training. It was the year TLCF was a part of a collaborative effort that supported a 39 jurisdiction, 51 participants, rural search, and rescue event in Lyon county. It was the year that we found a young EMT called to be a paramedic who has responded to more than 10,000 patient emergency calls for help.
And then the following year we did the same thing.
Our strategy is to invest in the students that we have identified through our scholarship criteria and to help propel them toward their purpose. We know from the years of working with our recipients that they are encouraged by receiving our scholarship. It not only helps them financially but helps them to believe that they can accomplish their goals and builds in them the confidence to succeed.
With COVID-19, College and University surveys are reporting that it's highly probable that 1 in 5 students who had planned to attend college will not go. And, alarmingly, 40% of the students that have already put down deposits will probably not go to college this fall as planned. Source: Inside Higher Ed
At the core of the TLC Foundation mission is an unwavering determination to ensure that when the alarm sounds, there is someone trained and ready to respond. The season we are experiencing underscores the importance of our purpose: to strengthen the number of healthcare and emergency service workers serving Minnesota communities.
We have scholarship applications from candidates that meet all our criteria. Nearly all of them are currently serving as a health care worker or an emergency responder while attending school.
We have applications from high school students eager to start furthering their education. We have college seniors close to fulfilling their goals. We have one application from a student ready to move into serving in the battle against COVID-19.
There is no doubt that, although we do not wholly understand it, our organization was and is in God's plan. In 2003 eight ordinary people started our organization with $1,200 from unused gifts from Tim's funeral. God, through our incredible friends, turned the $1,200 into $12,000 in the first year. Since then, we have awarded more than $65,000 in scholarships and grants to individuals and organizations for health care and emergency service training throughout the state of Minnesota.
Why press forward in faith and not fear? Because it is in God's plan. Just like He did during the 2008-2009 economic crisis, he will carry us through this storm. But, most importantly, because Minnesota communities need us to.
The season we are in is unprecedented. Unprecedented events call for unprecedented action.
Let us press forward, regardless of today's challenges. A year remembered for the launch of an innovative partnership that significantly reduced medical emergency response times in one Minnesota community.
A year remembered as the first year that every qualified candidate received a scholarship.
A year remembered as the year we turned to our roots. The year that reinforced the "why" of our actions and demonstrated an unwavering determination to help ensure that when the alarm sounds, there is someone trained and ready to respond.
And, most importantly, the year that reinforced our belief that to serve God's purpose, we must serve God's people.
About the Author: Karen Correll is co-founder and Executive Director of the Timothy L. Correll Foundation, Inc.