Sunday, March 22, 2009

Who is Oseola McCarty?

Oseola McCarty (1908-1999) grew up in Mississippi. She grew up as a young girl who dreamed of becoming a nurse to serve humanity. But life had something else in store for her. She had to drop out of school in Grade 6. Instead of serving people in the hospitals she served in the backyards of houses washing the laundry. Oseola never earned more than $10 for a bundle. She never traveled out of her place in her whole life. She never got a driver’s license, she never got married. In her frugal life, all she did was to visit the local bank to save her pennies apart from the local store and the neighborhood church. In her waning years after she retired, on one of her visits to the bank, the bank officer approached her smiling:
“How are you today, Oseola?”
“I am fine” replied the old lady in her frail voice.
“Do you any idea how much money you own?” asked the happy and anxious banker.
“No” replied the innocent lady.
“Oseola, you own $280,000,00!!!” The banker tried to surprise her.
“Ok…how much is that” came a calm reply.
As the banker tried to compose himself he wondered on the spirit of the lady standing before him.
The banker took her to his cabin and helped her to take a comfortable seat.
“What do you want to do with that money?”
“How much is it?” queried Oseola.
“Okay, now suppose this is the money that you own…” and placed 10 coins on the table.
“O, I’ll give the first to God, the next three to my nephews and nieces because I love them very much and the rest….I have something very special in mind!”

Few days later the University of Southern Mississippi received a donation of $150,000 to provide scholarships for deserving students especially African-American.

Oseola McCarty was honored by one and all for her generosity and philanthropy. She was even awarded with a degree by the University of Southern Mississippi, first of its kind by the University.

Oseola’s life reminds one of how important one can be in one’s life though one has led a seemingly “insignificant life” by general standards.

“I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more,” said Oseola once, very calmly.

I chanced upon her in Robin Sharma’s lecture, Lead Without Title, which was held in Dubai last month. She was also mentioned in one of his books. I was greatly influenced by her story and can not but agree with Robin that it is the small, daily acts of kindness that’s important in life. One doesn’t need to be a CEO or a Director or a GM to lead something like this in one’s life.

Oseola wanted to live by that principle. Her dream was to see the first recipient of her scholarship but she was uncertain about it because of her age and failing health. But she did live to see Stephanie Bullock receive it.

“Heaven couldn’t have got a better angel” said Stephanie Bullock on hearing about Oseola’s demise.

This story will truly uplift our spirit and that’s why I thought of sharing this with you all. Thanks to Robin for such a wonderful story!

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