I come from a non-profit background. By that I mean, I have been involved in the non-profit world since I was still in grade school, thanks to the organization my mom co-founded, SMART University. I have also worked for the Fund for the City of New York since 2013. Community work is a HUGE part of my life. So, when I created this space I knew I would have to dedicate at least a part of it to share, promote, and raise funds for causes that I care about.
The Jeff McQueen Memorial Scholarship is a cause that I will be focusing on a lot in the coming months due to my participation in planning the 5th Annual Basketball Tournament.
Jeff McQueen was a stellar student, amazing athlete, true friend, and--perhaps most importantly to me--my husband's little cousin. In 2015, he and three of his friends were killed in a car accident. Their loss left the community of Kingston broken.
Kingston, I have learned since moving here, is the definition of Small Town America. Everyone knows everyone. Families live within a 3 block radius of each other. Friends have known each other since they were in diapers. So when a tragedy like this hits, it rocks the entire town. It isn't just the family's who mourn, it is every last person within the community.
Jeff was a pillar of our community. He encouraged others to strive to be the best versions of themselves--and led by example. He touched the lives of every person he came across. So bright was his light, that his former TRIO counselor knew his memory needed to be honored and with the help of friends and family, put together the very first Memorial Basketball Tournament. Since then thousands of dollars have been raised to give other students at SUNY Ulster Community College a head start towards their future.
Community aside, Jeff's loss was a brutal blow against our family. To say my husband was devastated would be an understatement. I don't feel comfortable writing someone else's story, but he was hurt badly. It is only recently that I feel that he has begun to recover from that loss.
This year will be our 5th annual tournament, and mark 5 years since we have had to live without Jeff. In honor of Jeff and as a gift to my husband and his family, I really wanted to put my all into making this the scholarship's best year yet.
I am not a particularly social person and I'm definitely no athlete, but I love art, design, and social media. So pulling from my own skills I have designed two memorial prints to raise money for the scholarship.
All proceeds from merchandise sold using these designs will be donated to the scholarship. To view the designs and merch (or sign up for the tournament if you live in the Hudson Valley) check out my fundraiser page.