Seeds of Hope is fortunate to have many great volunteers and donors. And Pat and Laura Swisher are perfect examples of that.
First – let us introduce you. Pat is a native of Charlotte, NC and Laura is from Tennessee. They have one son, two daughters, and two granddaughters. Pat is a successful entrepreneur who has been recognized as one of Forbes’ Up & Coming Entrepreneurs and he was awarded Top Entrepreneur by Success Magazine. Laura is very active in the community and dedicates her time to helping a number of non-profits and ministries. Together – they add great value to Seeds of Hope. We recently sat down with them to hear their stories, get their perspective on why they volunteer and donate to Seeds of Hope, and what their hopes are for the organization.
Here’s what they had to say:
Q: How did you all become involved with Seeds of Hope?
A: David and Marilynn Chadwick introduced us to the organization a couple of years ago. Although we have supported many non-profits, this is one that we both passionately agreed to get our family behind because we believed so much in the vision for Seeds of Hope.
Marilynn founded Seeds of Hope to provide deserving young professionals the gift of education coupled with Christian guidance. To us – there is no greater impact than that. Giving a deserving young person a college education and helping to build their faith has the power to change the trajectory for not only them, but theoretically their family and future generations to come.
Q: How have the Seeds of Hope scholars impacted you?
A: It’s amazing what the scholars have done and are doing for the community. It’s organic, because it’s what’s in their hearts. They were given an opportunity and they’re giving back. As a businessperson - investing back in people within the community that are doing good makes good sense. One of the scholar’s stories really touches us because he met Jesus at Liberty University after he received a Seeds scholarship. And now he’s giving back in big ways to the kids in his community. It’s inspiring to see.
Q: Do you think Seeds of Hope is just about providing education or is more than that?
A: It’s definitely more than that. It’s about providing mentorship, offering guidance, creating networking opportunities and a sense of community, and helping the scholars uncover their spiritual gifts as they’re pursuing their dreams.
Q: What makes Seeds of Hope different from other organizations?
A: The commitment to helping scholars grow in their faith and walking beside them throughout their pursuit of their dreams, not just providing financial assistance and walking away. In addition to helping Seeds Scholars pursue a four-year education, the Dream Catcher program is dedicated to those wanting to pursue trade schools or other means of education. These specialized skills are disappearing, but greatly needed. Sponsoring some of the really talented, driven folks offers a positive impact for society, but also presents the Dream Catcher with a financially favorable outcome.
Q. Do you feel a personal connection to Seeds of Hope?
Pat: I understand the difference that education and mentoring can make in the lives of young people. Several years ago, I got into some trouble and spent 13 months in prison. I learned that 9 out of 10 people incarcerated are in prison because of an economic hardship. Tons of people are selling drugs, because they don’t have an opportunity to do something else. I thought to myself then – what would they be capable of if they were given the opportunity of a college education? These are great people. They’re smart. They want to succeed. They just don’t have a clear view on a constructive path forward or someone to guide them.
Since that time, I have talked with community leaders who have helped me understand that the earlier you connect with and provide guidance to at risk young people, the more likely they are to succeed. Young people need role models. And some children just aren’t given that opportunity – and they go down the wrong path because they don’t have someone to look up to. I guarantee you that if some of the people I met in prison had the same opportunity to go to college and had role models as I did, they wouldn’t be there. What I saw in prison were people just like me and you -that were just born into different families without the same support and opportunity.
And I want to add one more important point. If you combine education with a Christianity value system – that’s even more powerful. Education helps but it’s not just about education. Things are going to go wrong. You’re going to face adversity. You have to have good problem-solving skills and good judgment. You need faith and a strong value system. When you combine faith with drive- that can change everything, a person’s outlook and future. This is what motivated me to get involved and that’s what I can see with Seeds. That’s clicked for me. That’s why I am such a fan of the organization.
Q: Why do you donate and remain involved with Seeds of Hope?
A: We know when we donate our time and financial gifts that they’re going directly to the scholars, and it gives us great joy to help these wonderful young people. Our involvement continues because we believe in the program and what it can do. But also, the scholars positively change our lives just as much, if not more, than we could ever change theirs.
To learn more about Pat & Laura, visit the About Us page to view their bios.