Building for the Future—Memphis Catholic High School
After more than 20 years of volunteering, George Bone was no stranger to the rewards of giving back. But one reward was a big surprise to him. His alma mater, Memphis Catholic High School, wanted to honor him not only for his academic and athletic accomplishments while he was a student but also for the ways he had lived out the potential shown during those years in his work life and on behalf of his community as a volunteer.
At the dinner to pay tribute to him and the nine others being inducted into the school's Hall of Fame, George especially noticed the students who were serving. They were respectful, well mannered, and passionate about their schooling, so much so that George wanted to know more. A second visit and what he learned opened yet another volunteering avenue. "I became fascinated by what the school does and basically just asked, 'What can I do?'" he recalls.
Memphis Catholic High School, much changed from George's day of 50+ years earlier, serves low-income students, 75% of whom are from single-parent families, and for four years in a row all of the seniors have been accepted for college. Part of the high school's success is their internship program. Students go to school almost year round but only for four days a week. The other day they are working in a Memphis area business, earning $2,000, which in turn helps to offset the cost of their private school. The students value the work experience and the knowledge that they are earning their education.
An executive in his career, George put his skills to work laying the groundwork for an alumni association to ensure the continuation of excellence for the school, which will celebrate 100 years in 2022. But his volunteering with the students has kept his passion high! The school has an emphasis on helping the learners develop a moral compass so that they can better navigate the ups and downs of life. Invited to share his stories from his life with the students, George, as a 70-year-old, was surprised and humbled at how readily the 17-year-olds responded, giving back to him a reward he cherishes.
George admits not everyone can volunteer at his alma mater, but schools are all around us, which means opportunities are there too! Schools where parents, grandparents, and other adults are involved are better able to surround their students with needed resources and a crucial message—that people care—both of which make a difference in lives immediately and for a lifetime.
For more information about this school, visit memphiscatholic.org. To find a school-related volunteer opportunity near you, do your homework.