To the Editor:
Recently I was sorting through old pictures and memorabilia. I came across the letter I received from the state of Illinois informing me, a high school senior, that I had received a full scholarship to any Illinois state university of my choice.
I am now 62 years old, but I remember the day that the scholarship recipients were announced. I was sitting in English class when my name, among others, was mentioned. It was then that I knew that my life was changed. I was handed a gift that I had worked for, and I never took it for granted.
I wasn't always a perfect college student. I occasionally cut classes, sometimes put my social life first, but I knew that I had a goal and would achieve it. Without the support of the state, however, I don't know where I would have landed. As a result of state aid and later Social Security benefits when my dad died during my junior year, I became a contributing member of society - over 35 years as a teacher.
Today while driving back to our beautiful mountain home, thinking of the current presidential election and all of the conversations and ads in the media, I thought about the boost that I was given so many years ago. My husband and I have paid big taxes over the many years of our careers, but we have never resented this.
I thought of the county road that I was traveling on and the men who maintain it. I thought of the Fraser and Granby elementary schools I have visited, how beautiful they are and how the children are so well cared for in the classrooms. I thought of our libraries, police force and fire department. I know I am blessed to be a Grand County resident and a citizen of this country.
In short, I have had much given to me and I expect to give back to society. I want to help other children succeed. I want to live in a community where workers are paid fairly. And I plan to vote for those representatives who also have a heart for those who have the desire to succeed and need a hand up. That is what was given to me so many years ago. I cannot and should not forget that gift.
In these weeks leading up to the election, I hope that everyone will think about what we need to do to help each other: the student who is aiming for college, the disabled person who is trying to pay her rent, the worker who cannot afford health insurance, all of our neighbors.
Call me a bleeding-heart liberal, but I will never forget what I was given as a girl, a chance to be the best that I could be. For all of my adult life, I have known that it was my turn to give back.
Paying it forward, for me that's what it's about.
Linda H. Spaet