Suzanne Alston, Laura Resendez and Bryan Alston at the SFA Scholarship Reception on March 23, 2012
Last Friday night we had the privilege of meeting one of the SFA recipients of the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship. Her name is Laura and she is a warm, open, delightful young woman. Now had it been me I would have been extremely intimidated because you see there was seven of us at the reception to meet her. It was both sets of Lauren’s grandparents, Sharron & Roy Dean Alston and Sue & John Jasper, a friend of Lauren’s, Adam O. and us, her parents. Granted she didn’t know there would be seven of us until she walked up to the table but she handled it very well. We talked with her for an hour, learned about her life and found some unexpected connections. She wants to work in the travel industry and will graduate in May 2013. She was friendly, active in the conversation and asked us questions about our life. She has a younger brother, who has visited her at SFA, which has inspired him to work hard in school because he now wants to attend SFA when he graduates high school. We found out she lives in the same house that Bryan’s brother, Todd, lived in while attending SFA. She has some of the same qualities as Lauren and when we saw her finger it sealed the deal for us…she had on a James Avery ring. Anyone that knew Lauren knows how much she loved James Avery jewelry and had many pieces. Laura’s ring was the Mother’s Love ring that her Mom had given her. My Mother had just told me she was wanted to buy me the Mother’s Love charm for my new charm bracelet. Now that is a Godwink…a sign to us we had picked the right recipient…the ring and the wonderful meeting we had with Laura.
Bryan and I are now reviewing the new applicants for this coming year. Please pray that we pick worthy young adults that will after graduation carry on the LAF mission of helping others.
Two years ago today our world turned upside down and it has never righted itself since. There are days it is hard to smile…feel joy…put one foot in front of the other. Our hearts ache and we still cry over our loss and always will. Yes…the pain is still there…it is less raw….but it will never go away. It would be so easy to crawl in a hole or the bed and never get out of it. But Lauren would not want any of us to do that. She would want us to remember her and “Smile, Open our eyes, Love and Go on.” She was full of love and life and so we try to be for her. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t think of Lauren… her smile, her laughter, her reaching out to others, her love of life. “Loving for her was as easy as breathing” a special friend of her’s told us after her passing.
Today we intend to “smile, love and go on” and perform random acts of kindness in her memory. We hope you will too and if you do please tell us in a comment on this post…it would warm our hearts.
“You have lightened my financial burden” and “you have inspired me to recognize the value of helping others”…words from one of our recipients. For all of the wonderful people who donated to LAF in the past and for the two donors last week, your heart should be uplifted and filled with joy from those words, you have impacted and changed a life. Thank you from the depths of my heart for doing this in memory of Lauren.
A second thank you note from Rondrelle Sterling
February 8, 2012
Dear members of the Lauren Alston Foundation,
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to you for making the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship possible. I was overwhelmingly elated to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support.
I am currently a junior majoring in Hospitality Administration, and I hope to graduate in December of 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree. While attending Stephen F. Austin State University as a full-time student, I also have a part-time job to help pay for my expenses. Luckily, my job gives me experience in my field, and I have recently been promoted to student manager. It is not easy juggling school and work: therefore, I am truly grateful for the assistance I am receiving because of your foundation.
By awarding me the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship, you have lighten my financial burden which allows me to focus on the most important aspect of school, learning. Your generosity has inspired me to recognize the value in helping others. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.
Lauren had been on my mind frequently with Valentine’s Day coming up, not that she ever really leaves it. This day of “I love you’s” that most people look forward to and that I still gave her valentines and a little gift, even at 21. What kept coming back to my mind was those “3 little words”. You see I sometimes had trouble telling her that…oh for various reasons. She would tell me and when I didn’t always say it back she would try to coax it out of me. Maybe I wasn’t “loving” her right then cause we had fought or I just didn’t feel like saying it. Now I always loved her but sometimes didn’t “like” her right then and if you are a parent you know what I mean. I always told her I wanted to say “it” when I felt it not just because someone had told me first…parroting the words right back to them. She would say…”But Mommmmm….”. Before you misunderstand, I said those “3 little words” more times than not…but not always.
The Friday night before she was killed we went out to eat with our “Nacogdoches” family. Bryan and his brother live in Lufkin and their parents, one set of Lauren’s grandparents, live in Nacogdoches. Since Lauren, the first grandchild on that side of the family was born, they have come to Lufkin on many Friday nights to see us. So it was Lauren, Mimi, PawPaw, Todd, Julie, Elise, Bryan, Taylor and I having supper at Cotton Patch. Taylor, her brother, was working 2 jobs and had called in sick to his night job, although that was not the norm. So the four of us, as our family unit, were together one last time. We all laughed, visited, joked, hugged and the “girls” made plans to go see Hairspray at Temple Theater. The last thing I said to her that night was…“I love you”…I meant it…I felt it…I wanted her to know. I have no regrets in that department and am so thankful God gave me that last opportunity to say those 3 simple but powerful words to my beloved daughter.
I love you Lauren…..Mom
Thank you note from Laura Resendez
Bryan and I received a Thank You note from Laura Resendez in the mail this past week. She is one of the scholarship recipients from the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship at Stephen F. Austin State University. Both she and Rondrelle Sterling sent out their thank you notes after learning of receiving the scholarship this past spring. This is a second note that Laura sent to us.
Here it is:
Dear Mr. Bryan & Mrs. Suzanne Alston,
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity of a scholarship; especially during these rough times. This scholarship has helped my family and I greatly. Having this strives me to do better in classes. My GPA is getting better, and I just could not be where I am today from your support. Many thanks!
What a nice surprise to receive this note in the mail. I think it shows us that we made the right decision in choosing Laura as one of the recipients. Laura is from a single parent home, has siblings and works part time while attending school and full time in the summer to help fund her college education.
When walking my dog, Max, early on a crisp cool morning a few days ago, a really “talkative” older gentleman engaged me in conversation. He was here in the RV park, in Fredericksburg where we are staying right now, for a few days after house hunting in Dallas. His only son lived there and wanted he and his wife to move to Dallas from Mississippi to be close by. He told me more about his life, wife and son. After learning about his already selling their house, they loved their church and had so many wonderful friends where they lived, he thought they didn’t really want to move and leave all that behind. I asked him if I could give him one piece of advice…he said yes. I told him about losing my beautiful, smart, loving 21 yr old daughter and with tears streaming down my face I said… “Sir…Time is Precious…Especially with your Children”. Tears came to his eyes and rolled down his cheek and he said…”I know…we lost a 10 yr old son in the 70’s… and you never forget… or get over it”. I hope they move…
I also hope I was a God Link for him…the sign he needed to make that move. There is a great book called “When God Winks at You” by Squire Rushnell. It is about how God speaks directly to you through the power of coincidence. When God uses someone else to speak to you that is called a God Link.
With Hope, suzanne
Welcome to Lauren Alston Foundation website!
Lauren Alston Signature / Symbol Pillows benefitting the Lauren Alston Foundation. Click here for more information on ordering your pillow.
Photo gallery / slideshow from the L.A.F Benefit 2010.