Driving home with my husband after having dinner at a Tulsa restaurant, my thoughts kept returning to the young man who served as our waiter for the evening.  Although he performed his assigned duties with politeness and efficiency, I could not help but sense a “sadness” contradicting his job-related deportment.  Gently probing in conversation, I commended his service to us and asked how long he had worked at the restaurant.  He smiled and responded that this employment was “short-lived, only temporary until I can save enough money to achieve my dream of going to college.”  I pressed on asking about his academic history and he was quick to relate that he graduated from high school “top of my class.”  With his eyes lowered and voice quivering he added, “I just couldn’t afford to continue my education – hopefully someday.”

We offered some words of encouragement, but silently wondered if he would really be successful in his pursuit of higher education.  I mused, “How many tables would he have to serve – how many tips would he have to depend upon and save before his dream becomes a reality?”

Now, in the passenger seat reflecting upon this young man’s struggles, I was venting my frustration with having met yet another well-qualified, deserving young person who has been denied the opportunity to solidify his future due to the lack of financial resources.  How many times had I heard this refrain from young people in the community working at menial jobs in hopes of amassing the necessary funds to attain a college education.  Riling on and on exclaiming, “SOMEBODY needs to do something for these young people!!”  My husband, well-familiar with hearing my recurring “call to action” into the amorphous abyss, quietly responded without taking his eyes off the road, “You’re SOMEBODY.”

I felt like a bolt of lightning had hit the car.  Electrical sensations permeated my body.  I could not sleep that night – eager for daylight to arrive so that I could begin my “research” on how I could help young people like our waiter the night before.  I knew that this endeavor would take me out of my trained field as a healthcare professional, but I was energized.

Several weeks later, at a Tulsa Opera Board of Directors meeting, it was announced that Simon Estes was scheduled for a performance the upcoming season.  That was confirmation!  I knew right then that if I could get his help – together we could help so many young people through the formation of a non-profit organization.

And this is how The Simon Estes Educational Foundation, Inc. came to be. Forty years later, the Foundation is continuing its mission to help high school students achieve their goals.