Don't you love to see transformative work in action? Saturday evening I attended the "Go Long" Scholarship banquet in midtown Kansas City. Founded by black professional men, this small nonprofit has as its mission "helping deserving students go to college." Ten years ago, eight friends who regularly gathered to watch football together were convicted that they could organize for good in the community. In particular, they saw the challenges many young people faced in attempting to go to college--especially those who would be the first in their families. When the men cheered on the Chiefs (the team surely needs that!), they often shouted "Go Long!," hence, the name of their organization.
This year Go Long awarded ten substantive scholarships to impressive young people setting out to become teachers, engineers, dentists, physical therapists, doctors, and social workers. Most will attend schools in the area: Central Missouri University, Northwest Missouri State, University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas State, and University of Kansas. I predict that they will flourish because of the belief and resources invested in them. I also believe that they will become transformative leaders themselves as they seek to enrich the communities from which they have come.
How does Go Long raise tends of thousands of dollars for this worthy goal? They mow yards, rake leaves, plant flowers--rain or shine. I see them in action at my house every other week during the months of grass and leaves. With joy and excellence, they make our yard more than presentable; they make it beautiful!
Inviting others to participate in their dream, they are diligent and reliable--and even more important, they are focused on the long game. Their example prompts patrons to be generous in helping fund these scholarships. Tending approximately thirteen lawns each week, these men are on mission. Working in late afternoon and evenings and weekends (after finishing their day jobs), they appear in their red t-shirts with good equipment and set to work with Christian camaraderie.
The epistle lectionary reading for this coming Sunday describes the work of Go Long: "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God . . ." (1 John 4:7). Their love is making a difference; their self-giving and "never give up" attitudes are opening horizons for emerging leaders.
All who attended the Saturday evening banquet had a sense that we were participating in something that really matters. Joyful celebration marked the occasion as we met the deserving students who will "go long," and we witnessed the kind of love God has engendered in these faithful men.
Molly T. Marshall
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