April 27, 2018

Hello friends and supporters of TFFT!

My name is Laura Thompson, and I am thrilled to join The Foundation For Tomorrow to assist with grant writing and development efforts.  This is an exciting opportunity for me that brings together my passion and admiration for TFFT with my love of writing and commitment to non-profit organizations.

While I am the newest member of the team, my family and I have long known the value of TFFT’s mission.  Introduced to the organization through a writing assignment over six years ago, I met Meghann and learned of the passionate and thoughtful work of the TFFT team.  I have worked as a freelance writer here in Charlotte and overseas, covering primarily lifestyle topics, but focusing on philanthropy and volunteerism.  The most fantastic part about covering this space has been meeting a myriad of creative and inspiring individuals and organizations working to do good for others.

A little more background on me:  I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.  A buckeye by birth, but not a Buckeye – I headed to New England for college attending Colby College in Waterville, Maine.  My husband, Chuck, and I spent time after college living and working in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Boston, and New York City.  While Charlotte was a big change for us, we were excited to move south, and it has proven to be a wonderful place to raise our three boys: Charlie, Zan, and Malcolm, who are now 15, 13, and 9 respectively.

After 14 years here in Charlotte, my husband had professional opportunity that took us Hong Kong, SAR.  A radical shift from life in Charlotte and a completely new experience for Chuck, me, and our boys!  Our time overseas was a wild ride, but a tremendously valuable experience for all five of us.   We had the opportunity, as a family and as individuals, to expand our world through friendships, professional and educational opportunities, sports, and travel. While the bulk of our travel took us throughout Asia, we did have the opportunity to take the boys to Kenya, introducing them to a few organizations there that are doing amazing work for children and conservation efforts – experiences that gave them a bit more context and understanding of life in Africa.  Our time in Africa has stuck with each of the boys, they hope to return soon, or join me on a trip to Tanzania to see TFFT at work.

Our traveling band returned to Charlotte in June of 2017 and we have been re-adjusting to life back in the States and back in our “hometown.”  I am desperately missing my weekly hikes in Hong Kong, but have been excited to rejoin my Charlotte books clubs and tennis team.   Rugby – a sport which our entire family became crazy about while living in Hong Kong – has also become a source of continuity while we re-adjust.  While the sport is still growing here in the US, our boys have were very excited to find teams to play with here in Charlotte.  And how could I forget our wonderful and loving source of Hong Kong to Charlotte continuity: our beloved dog, Stuart, aka Hong Kong Stuey!

I have been lucky to have joined two Vision Trips, in 2015 and 2016, giving me the opportunity to meet the fantastic TFFT team based in Arusha, see programs and partnerships at work, and, most importantly, meet the scholar that our family sponsors.  It was a joy to meet Gadiel, a tall, quiet fifteen year old Maruruni boy.  He has become the head of his family through difficult circumstances and works hard to keep up with his academic classes.  But he is keenly aware that opportunity to learn and attend school can impact not only his life, but the life of his family.

Talking with Gadiel about his favorite classes, the books he enjoys reading, and his passion about football was as familiar as talking with one of my own boys about their interests, struggles, and curiosities.  It wonderful to sit with and get to know Gadiel over the course of an afternoon, to learn more about his life experience and understand his learning strengths and challenges.  I was excited to be able to share my visit with Gadiel with our boys, to introduce them to a young man living in a completely different life circumstances, but who has similar dreams for the future and passions for sports and reading.  We have all very much enjoyed being a part of this scholarship program.

I am a believer that a high quality education is the most valuable gift you can be given, and I have seen that TFFT’s work is squarely focus on providing that gift to every scholar they have enrolled.   Seeing firsthand the work that TFFT does to support scholars inside and outside of the classroom, I have been impressed by their deliberate engagement.  It is clear that there are educational challenges that are common worldwide, but the tools that communities have to solve these problems vary immensely.   The gap in that TFFT seeks to narrow through  access to quality education provides not just an opportunity for their scholar, but hope for shaping a different future as well.