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Expanding the Love

Thursday, April 1, 2010

After experiencing the unbearable pain of loss, a family immortalizes the spirit of their loved one's generous heart. Learn how this quiet giver inspired her daughters - and helped enable single moms - to aspire to a higher education, and how her husband, sister and others continue her legacy of love.

The Lisa Rubush Chamlee Memorial Scholarship

Three years ago, at the age of 40, my sweet sister Lisa passed away from Breast Cancer. For those of you that have lost someone you loved, you know the pain seems almost more than you can bear. There are days when you wake up to the reality once again and it feels as if you cannot put one foot in front of the other.  As a family, we found ourselves wanting to do something positive to keep Lisa’s memory alive.  We wanted it to be something that would be representative of who Lisa was and something she would be proud of.  We knew she would want us to be the best we could be and strive to make a difference in the lives of others.

Lisa was a dear, sweet, generous person. She was a quiet giver.  In fact, it wasn’t until after she passed that I learned how many lives she had touched. During the early years of her marriage, when she and Mark were just starting out in a tiny house with two small children, she would give her Christmas bonus away to some young woman in need. The recipient was usually some single mother trying to get her education and struggling to raise her children alone. Lisa knew how hard it was to go back to college after having her children and she knew how much more difficult it would have been without the love and support of her husband, Mark.

While Lisa attended Polk Community College, her daughters sometimes saw her cry while she studied when the stress of trying to work, go to school, and raise a family weighed heavily on her. They watched their Dad encourage her to never give up as he helped in the most practical ways, cleaning, cooking, working in the yard and taking the girls out for ice cream to give her more time for her studies.

When our family attended Lisa’s graduation here at PCC, we watched proudly with tears in our eyes, as she received her degree with honors. When the ceremonies were over, her eight year old Sarah went rushing to give Lisa a hug and a kiss.  There she was, blonde like Lisa, wearing little glasses and a white pinafore dress.  Lisa looked radiant in her green cap and gown.  Just as Sarah reached up to her Mommy and Lisa bent down, Aunt Gloria caught the Kodak moment that will forever be etched in our minds. It was that moment just before the kiss.  Every time I look at that photo, I think about what an example she set for her little girls.  Today that little girl in the picture is attending Polk Community College. Her older sister, Malia also graduated from PCC.

Education changes lives forever and it doesn’t just change the life of the one getting the degree. It changes the lives of their friends, family, their children, and their spouses. It opens doors for everyone around them as they too are inspired to reach higher, do better and to leave their own unique imprint on the world around them.

Now, after garage sales, bake sales, and the generous donations of many wonderful friends and family, Lisa will continue to make a difference in the lives of others through the Lisa Rubush Chamlee Memorial Scholarship.  Thank you, Lisa, for setting the example for all of us. We salute you. We salute you.

– Debra Rubush Winter