Dear Berea Alumni and Friends,
What does it mean to “Bloom where you are planted?” First, it starts with an action—bloom. To bloom is to flourish or to thrive. To bloom is to produce something new and beautiful. This issue is packed with stories of unique programs and people striving to create something new—from the seeds of research, relationship or just plain curiosity.
Second, “where you are” indicates contentment but not complacency. We sometimes don’t have control over where life takes us, but we can choose to put down roots and flourish in any circumstance. In this issue, you’ll uncover that Berea’s first ladies hailed from a variety of backgrounds, but when they joined their presidential partners on Berea College soil, they each left an indelible mark on the College. And our current first lady, Laurie Roelofs, has turned her home and “backyard” into a haven for butterflies to flourish. You can learn more about how Mrs. Roelofs has used “where she is” to gratify her zeal for education and the environment in the article “Taking Flight.”
Third, “planted” entails intention. At Berea College, very little happens by chance. For more than 160 years, Berea has acted with intention to carve out a place for its ideals and commitments. But Berea didn’t just plant itself in one place and tend to one beautiful bloom. Berea College, through its staff, faculty, students and alumni, is always seeking budding new ways to reach into the region and out to the world and help others thrive. The Berea Kids Eat program began with one church, one street and one small idea to plant a garden. Today, through partnerships with Grow Appalachia, Berea College and many others, the program has grown to serve more than 18,000 meals to hungry Berea community children and has become a full-time job for alumna Martina LeForce ’07, who is the program’s founder and director.
Discover how one donor’s 1938 experience at Berea’s Lower Division set him on a course to patent more than 900 inventions, and how he hopes to develop Berea as a leader in solar energy.
As students blossom into successful alumni, and alumni become integral donors, and Berea’s many friends branch out as positive voices for the institution’s mission, I am reminded of the words of alumna Starry Walker’s poem, “Where There is Gratitude There is Growth,” in which she encourages all Bereans, “To be planted. To grow into pillars worthy of our communities. To turn from caterpillars to butterflies to fly away to make a difference. To find unity in our differences. To be planted and rooted in love and opportunity alike. Here, in this Kentucky soil—in the heartbeat of Appalachia.”
There are many more intriguing and inspiring stories in this issue that I hope will encourage you to find ways to bloom where you are planted.
Abbie Tanyhill Darst ’03
Director of Publications and Media Relations