Ambassador Program Provides Leadership Opportunities
December 22, 2015 | posted by Stephen Chavez
Kalie, an 8th grader at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School is one of over 40 Hope for the Future (HOPE) Ambassadors. HOPE works to raise funds for tuition assistance scholarships so economically disadvantaged families can enjoy the benefits and values of a Catholic School education. The ambassador program, which required students to apply and submit a letter of recommendation from the principal, among other criteria, was created as a leadership opportunity for Catholic School students.
HOPE Ambassadors will have the opportunity to participate in various events throughout the year to represent Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Kalie attended her first event as a HOPE Ambassador in December, along with her mother, Vicki Smith, which changed their lives forever.
During the annual HOPE Fundraising Christmas Party, Kalie and her mom had the opportunity to speak in front of the guests to share their story. Smith, is a single parent working a full-time job to support her only daughter, Kalie. The family has been recipients of tuition assistance from Hope for the Future for the last five years. Without the help, Smith says, she would not be able to send her daughter to a Catholic School. “My biggest challenge has been financially; as tuition is expensive and a big portion of my income has gone to cover this one expense,” said Smith.
Smith explained to event guests about her daughter’s dream to attend Antonian College Preparatory, and shared that the reality of covering the cost of high school tuition was going to be difficult. With tears in her eyes, she said she was going to do what it takes to get Kalie into a Catholic High School, because she has seen the benefits received from Catholic school. “I knew in first grade that my choice to send Kalie to a Catholic School was the right one. I could see her growing in her faith and her academics as the year progressed. Because of the opportunity she has had in Catholic school, she now is setting her sights on high school and what she wants to accomplish there and beyond.”
As Smith and Kalie shared their story, through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, moved several people at the event to step up and help. Two generous benefactors pledged their support to cover the tuition cost for Kalie’s high school career.
Following the event, Smith reflected on the blessing she and her daughter received. “I always knew GOD IS GREAT but WOW GOD IS GREAT!!,” she exclaimed. “There are not enough words that can express our gratitude towards this GREAT organization!
As a HOPE Ambassador, Kalie will be able to share her story so other children can feel the light of hope and attend Catholic School. “Being a HOPE Ambassador is a great experience for Kalie because she is getting more comfortable in public speaking and in sharing her faith experiences,” said Smith.
“The idea of the Ambassador program came from our Khaki & Plaid Gala Executive Chairs Bruce and Cindy Vaio,” said Tracy Ladgenski, Director of Hope for the Future. “Our goal with the program is to provide leadership opportunities for Catholic School students across the Archdiocese.”
HOPE Ambassadors, like Kalie, will be hard at work at the upcoming Khaki & Plaid Gala Homecoming 2016 | Red Carpet Reunion on Jan. 23, to share their stories with event guests throughout the evening.
“No matter what school the students represent, as a HOPE Ambassador, they are demonstrating strength in unity and strength in our faith,” said Ladgenski.