Wednesday, October 15, 2014

And I'll take with me the memories...

This past month, Tiger Pause grieved the loss of two beloved individuals: Roy McDonald and Elaine Oravitz. There is no song, movie, or tear-jerking story that I can write down to express the importance, impact, and inspiration that these two people have had on me and the lives of countless youth through Tiger Pause.

Roy McDonald and his wife Francis were original founders and board members of Tiger Pause. Roy was the grandpa every boy wished they had. He was truly a man like Samuel whose words did not hit the ground. One of my greatest comforts was that I knew that Roy and Fran were praying for Tiger Pause daily. One of my greatest joys was when Roy and Fran showed up at any event we held. The most recent time was at our Splash Pad Preview Day where I could see in his eyes that he was pleased with what we had accomplished on land formerly over-run by abandoned houses and empty lots.

My early years as executive director were very rough. I was green, didn’t understand how to submit to authority, and we were at the verge of closing shop. During that time, we had a board meeting when Roy and Fran happened to be on vacation. I was being pressed to raise funds and the only idea I had was to sell raffle tickets for the boys’ work program services like grass cutting, car washing, etc. I was given permission to sell them at the football game and it was going well...until the next board meeting when Roy and Fran were there. Roy softly and graciously said, “We don’t do games of chance.” Fran just shook her head in disappointment. The rest of the board members, who had said a lot previously and given permission for the raffle, now sat so quietly that you could hear a pin drop. I was then told to call everyone who had purchased tickets and return their money, which I did because I loved Roy McDonald like a grandpa. Then, something supernatural happened. My mind grew an inch closer to wisdom.

At the next board meeting, the money issue came up again and I said that the only way I knew to make money was to tithe from the income we did have. Our budget was running in the red with no relief in sight. There was a lot of heavy conversation when Roy broke in and said, “It’s God’s word. We should do it.” Once again, silence. Then, John Shaffer made the motion and started to make history.

Twelve years later, an organization that was bringing in $65,000 per year has grown into one that will gross over $600,000 this year employing over 20 youth to cut grass, shovel driveways, and occasionally tear down houses as we are doing now in Leetsdale. From that tithing, we have sent Beaver Falls boys and girls on mission trips all over this world to spread God’s love by word and deed. When Roy spoke, things happened.

Another one of those things that happened involved Elaine Oravitz. She was the Beaver Falls Class of 1952 treasurer and decided that instead of holding more reunions, they would bless Tiger Pause with the money they would have spent. As the face of Tiger Pause, I went to meet with Miss Elaine for a completely different reason than what I received. Yes, she gave me a handsome check, but it was the warm smile, cup of coffee, Little House on the Prairie playing on the television, and the extensive conversation about what Tiger Pause does that blessed me greatly. Then, over the years, visits with her and her friendship became a refuge for me. As she came to live on a fixed income and could only give a certain amount to Tiger Pause, she offered to pay the postage for the return envelope. Little did I know that my path would cross her children and grandchildren’s paths. Through those connections, I would come to make another great friend—Elaine’s son Mike who is also a firm believer that “once a tiger, always a tiger”.

As these two great souls leave us and join Christ, we are thankful for their impact on the lives touched through Tiger Pause. Their gift of support was greater than money and for that, they will be greatly rewarded!

Matt Nance

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