Back in the 1980s, when I worked for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York as the executive director of Episcopal Charities, I was constantly looking for and trying to create ways in which to raise funds for our 19 member agencies. Our agencies were small, often run by one paid staff person along with many dedicated volunteers. Even so, the agencies did exceptional work in serving people throughout the seven counties of Western New York who were in need of help.
On one particular occasion I learned of a special grant being offered by the Episcopal Church Foundation and upon calling the New York office was instructed to contact the board chairman to determine our eligibility.
I was told that decisions would be made about the eligible agencies at their next board meeting the following month. I then learned that particular meeting was to be held at the U.S. vice president’s residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
Yes, sure enough, George Herbert Walker Bush, President Ronald Reagan’s VP and soon to become our 41st president, was one of the members of the Episcopal Church Foundation.
A dedicated cradle Episcopalian, President Bush gave many hours to the work of the church as it reached out to people of all faiths and in particular to those in desperate need.
No, we never received the grant and I never met George Herbert Walker Bush, but somehow I’ll always feel a closeness and a kinship to the man who wished to see “a kinder, gentler nation” and called on Americans to volunteer their time for good causes in an effort to create “a thousand points of light.”
Joan Jennings Scalfani