Edward got into trouble often at the afterschool program. He lived right across the street so I could walk him home early on especially bad days—about three times a week. He signed up to participate in Springbreak in the Marketplace* as a 5th grader and was matched with Francis Guess, Vice President of the Danner Company. Francis was raised in the Preston Taylor public housing area, graduated from TSU, earned his MBA at Vanderbilt, and was a community leader in business and politics before dying in 2015. Following his afternoon with Mr. Guess, Edward got in my car, let out a sigh, and said, “I hope I never let that man down.” We all need someone who is that person that we “don’t want to let down” and for perhaps the first time, that reality and desire came to life for Edward. Not long after that Edward moved from Preston Taylor. I don’t know how he is doing, but I am confident he remembers that day and that feeling.
There are plenty of other ways that Francis Guess impacted our community. He was on Tennessee’s Commission on Human Relations, appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a Vietnam veteran, President of the Rotary Club, and on numerous nonprofit boards. In advice he gave to civic leaders (as reported in the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Annual Report for 2015-2016 on page 27), Guess remarked, “A rising tide lifts all boats, and if Nashville is going to rise, then all the boats need to be in the water.” He said further, “If you want to follow the admonition to ‘teach a man to fish’, you first have to make sure he has a pole and knows where the pond is.”
Springbreak in the Marketplace will be held March 21-23, 2017. PTM will have over 40 youth participating in this potentially life-shaping week. More than ever, our community needs men and women like Francis Guess who are willing to show a young person what work is like and to give our students one more person “not to let down”. Will you help get some more boats in the water? Will you help point to the pond?
* Spring Break in the Marketplace program provides a one-on-one with a volunteer who is willing to spend 2-4 hours showing a student his/her workplace and teaching a little about that career. Providing a student with different experiences gives an idea of what a career could look like and the sacrifices needed to get to that career. On top of the introduction to a career, our hope is that each student also has positive interaction with a caring adult. To sign up to volunteer in this way, please click here.