Day Nine: I’m Thankful For…Mr. Milton S. Hershey

Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/09/12 (with slight changes made today).

I used to say that if I could meet any historical figure it would be James Madison. While I would still love to sit down with Mr. Madison, I have a new answer to that question: Mr. Milton S. Hershey, truly one of the world’s greatest men.

In a world filled with greed and selfishness, hearing stories and accounts of truly amazing and generous people is very refreshing. Mr. Hershey fits the very definition of selflessness.

In 1909, Mr. & Mrs. Hershey decided to start a school for orphaned boys, as they couldn’t have children of their own. The school still exists today and has 1,850 students who live here and are educated, fed, clothed, taken care of medically/dentally, etc.,  for free. Mr. Hershey gave his entire fortune, twice, to the school to ensure that it could exist FOREVER, and the school is still here more than 100 years later! It’s the whole reason that the Chocolate and the other properties exist today – to help fund the school. 

In the past three years of working for one of his companies and for his school, I have learned so much about the man and his vision. The more I learn, the more I love and respect him, even though I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him. Without Mr. Hershey’s vision and determination this would likely still be a rural area with a struggling economy, and thousands of boys and girls would never have been impacted by the school that he and his wife began. And it all started with chocolate. 🙂

Now that we work for the Milton Hershey School (caring for HIS kids), I am even more thankful for what he left as a legacy (to read more about why we love working for MHS, see this post). He was a man determined to put others before himself and he was always focused on giving his wealth where it was most needed. These kids have a safe, loving environment to grow up in at no cost to them or their families…all because Mr. Hershey didn’t see wealth as something to hold on to, but something to give to those in need.

He built the entire town of Hershey for his employees–that they might have a great place to live, work, and play. I have loved living in and near Hershey for the past few years, surrounded by such a rich history.

There’s so much more that could be said about him. I’m so thankful that he was not blinded by his wealth, nor was he selfish. Instead, he gave it all away so that “his kids” would be funded indefinitely and ensured of a better life. And that’s a great reason to buy Hershey’s Chocolate 🙂

New Chapter and Healing from the Previous One…

I began a new chapter in my life this week – moving from unemployment/temporary work to a new, “permanent” position.

I had a difficult time in the weeks leading up to this new beginning as I was unsure of whether or not I should have accepted the position. It didn’t have anything to do with the job or the employer itself – it had everything to do with a “fear of commitment” in regards to jobs that I didn’t know I had developed. It had everything to do with past scars caused by some awful supervisors that I’ve had in the recent past. And it also had everything to do with the fact that this isn’t my “dream” – this isn’t what I feel so passionate about, and I was afraid that taking this job would prevent me from further pursuing that which God has placed in my heart. Essentially, I was afraid of what might be around the corner and I was afraid of making the wrong decision.

From the very first hour of my new job I began to see that the negative things about my past job are nonexistent here. From the smallest to the largest things, God has redeemed my employment situation. I also began to see that I had built a wall around my heart during my last job that was preventing me from being excited/feeling blessed about where God has brought me now. I didn’t realize that I had done this, but God is using new experiences each day to slowly remove one brick at a time, which is showing me just how high the wall had become. Still, even now, I am having a hard time letting myself be excited and letting myself just accept that God has brought me to a place where I am neededwanted, affirmed, empowered, treated with respect, included…

Looking back (hindsight is 20/20, after all) over this past summer, there is no doubt in my mind that everything God allowed to happen was incredibly intentional:

May 17, 2013: Laid off from HE&R (SO THANKFUL!!!!), beginning a time of solitude, reflection, unknown, and healing.

At the same time, Brennan and I are beginning to feel that we shouldn’t be “regular relief houseparents” at the Milton Hershey School anymore due to family/church circumstances…we begin praying.

June/July: Able to do photography for Christian Retreat Center‘s camps because I was laid off, reminding me of my love for photography.

June 25: Jon Acuff sends out an email/blog post/tweet about joining him on an adventure and I accept.

Brennan and I decide to try to become “emergency relief” at MHS which would allow us to be home each weekend (unless called) and would allow us to still be involved with the students.

July 15:The START Experiment” begins…my risk was to focus on self-discipline after several months of not-so-subtle nudging from the Lord…

July-August: I realize through the START Experiment and the accompanying community what my dream job really is and I begin to pursue it. I start Essential Harrisburg and begin sending my portfolio to potential organizations.

I also interviewed for this new job at MHS in August.

We are told that we wouldn’t be allowed to be “emergency relief” due to the number of couples already in that status. I also find out from HR a few days after my interview that I cannot accept a potential job offer from MHS if we are still “regular relief” because of the number of hours I would be working.

We are faced with an incredibly difficult decision to either quit or stay on as “regular relief”

One Sunday, while covering a student home, my supervisor “just happens” to come by and I am able to pour my heart out to him regarding all of this and our desire to stay on with the school as houseparents.

We find out on September 3 that we have been granted “emergency relief” status…and an hour later, I am offered the job that I later accepted. 

September 12-17: I had the incredible privilege of attending “The START Conference” in Nashville, TN and finally got to meet some of the amazing friends I made through “The START Experiment” and was able to further clarify my “dream” and made some connections with professionals in that field. AMAZING. I came home filled with energy, excitement, peace, and even more trust in what God is doing behind the scenes.

Our God is not a God of coincidence. Nothing that happened this summer is a coincidence.

If I had not been laid off…if I had not accepted Jon’s offer of adventure…if…

This new chapter of life is still very new, and my future is still very “fuzzy” and obscure, but I already feel so at peace.

I know that God has placed the dream in my heart to travel around the world, taking pictures and telling stories, and I have no doubt that He will bring that to fruition in His timing. For now, I am going to do my best here, at a job about which I am passionate, telling the story of Mr. & Mrs. Hershey and their incredible generosity and legacy, while waiting for whatever God might have in the future.

 

 

Day Nine: I’m Thankful For…Mr. Milton S. Hershey.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

I used to say that if I could meet any historical figure it would be James Madison. While I would still love to sit down with Mr. Madison, I have a new answer to that question: Mr. Milton S. Hershey, truly one of the world’s greatest men.

In a world filled with greed and selfishness, hearing stories and accounts of truly amazing and generous people is very refreshing. Mr. Hershey fits the definition of selflessness.

In the past two years of working for one of his companies (and now for his school), I have learned so much about the man and his vision. The more I learn, the more I love and respect him, even though I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him. Without Mr. Hershey’s vision and determination this would likely still be a rural area with a struggling economy, and thousands of boys and girls would never have been impacted by the school that he and his wife began. And it all started with chocolate. 🙂

Now that we work for the Milton Hershey School (caring for HIS kids), I am even more thankful for what he left as a legacy (to read more about why we love working for MHS, see this post). He was a man determined to put others before himself and he was always focused on giving his wealth where it was most needed. These kids have a safe, loving environment to grow up in at no cost to them or their families…all because Mr. Hershey didn’t see wealth as something to hold on to, but something to give to those in need.

He built the entire town of Hershey for his employees–that they might have a great place to live, work, and play. I have loved living in Hershey for the past 14 months, surrounded by such a rich history.

There’s so much more that could be said about him. I’m so thankful that he was not blinded by his wealth, nor was he selfish. Instead, he gave it all away so that “his kids” would be funded indefinitely and ensured of a better life. And that’s a great reason to buy Hershey’s Chocolate 🙂

Why We Work for the Milton Hershey School…

Both Brennan and I have the great privilege of working not only for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, but also for the Milton Hershey School–both started by Mr. Milton Hershey for one great purpose: to educate and provide stability for children in poverty/orphans. After being on duty this weekend as a houseparent, I decided that it was time to educate my blog readers on why the school exists, who Mr. Hershey was, and why you should buy Hershey’s Chocolate products. I’ll try to keep it brief. 🙂

Milton Hershey has become one of my role models and heroes, even though he passed away 37 years before I was born. More than any other figure in history, I wish that I could sit down with this man and just listen to him speak. He only had a fourth grade education (if I remember correctly), and yet he built one of the greatest cities in the world (in my opinion) that all works together for the well-being of children in need. His vision and his compassion were remarkable, and he was well before his time with his ideas and his values.

“Hershey had the genius to develop the chocolate industry in the right place at the right time. His personal convictions about the obligations of wealth and the quality of life in the town he founded have made the company, community, and school a living legacy.”

Milton chose Derry Township, Pennsylvania as the location for his factory because of the rich farm land and the abundance of dairy farms. He soon realized that in order to attract workers, they would need a place to live. So, he created Hershey, PA as we know it today. He built homes, parks, services such as banks, a laundry, a transportation system, etc. so that his workers would have a great life living in Hershey.

Milton and his wife, Catherine, were unable to have children of their own. Both Milton and Catherine believed that wealth was meant to be shared and to be used for the benefit of others; when they realized that they had far too much money on their hands for their liking, his wife suggested that they start a school and make that their family. And so they did. In 1909, they started the Hershey Industrial School and took in orphaned boys to educate them and teach them skills (such as farming) to ensure that they would succeed in life.

Milton continued to grow the chocolate company to ensure that the school would be funded. He also began organizing his other ventures into the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (not what it was called while he was alive) to secure additional funding sources, and he separated the chocolate company (Hershey Foods) from the entertainment division to protect the school. Most amazingly, he and his wife loved these children so much that they gave their entire fortune TWICE ($4.5 billion dollars, I believe) to ensure that the school that they founded for orphan boys in 1909 would exist in perpetuity. Today, the school largely operates off of the interest from this endowment, and the endowment is invested by The Hershey Trust.

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Hershey is this:

If we had helped a hundred children it would have all been worthwhile.”

During Mr. Hershey’s lifetime, he saw the enrollment increase to 1,000! Today, the school is home to 1,850 students with a plan to increase enrollment to 2,000 in the next five years. There are 159 student homes (each housing 10-12 students). This school is an incredible place and it has changed the lives of thousands of children in the past 103 years!

“Well, I have no heirs – that is, no children, so I decided to make the orphan boys of the U.S. my heirs.” –Mr. Hershey

The students live at the school in student homes, under the care of a married couple (houseparents). Brennan and I serve as “Relief Houseparents”–which means that we serve every other weekend to give the houseparents a much-needed break after being on-duty for 12 days. It is an incredible opportunity to impact the lives of students in a very tangible way.

When you buy Hershey’s Chocolate products, when you visit Hersheypark or stay at The Hotel Hershey (or The Hershey Lodge, or golf at our golf courses, or visit The Hershey Gardens, etc.), you are helping to ensure that his legacy will continue forever.

I realize that Hershey has received some bad (and usually misguided) press lately, and that’s partly why I wanted to share this with my readers. The school has to make choices that are beneficial for the entire student body, and that sometimes means saying “no” to applicants for specific reasons.

MHS has had its struggles over the years as it has tried to navigate the changes in culture and yet still maintain the school according to the Deed of Trust that Milton and Catherine wrote in 1909. The Deed of Trust dictates how the school is run to this day. I believe that the school is even stronger now because of the struggles that it went through in the early 1990’s, and it still is striving to provide the best possible environment for the students in its care according to the wishes of Mr. & Mrs. Hershey.

The mission of the school is still to help children lead productive and fulfilling lives and to carry out Mr. Hershey’s legacy for generations to come. That’s the mission of all of the Hershey entities–including Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. It is wonderful to work for a company that still carries on such an incredible mission! If you are ever in Hershey, please take the time to visit The Hershey Story museum–you will learn SO much about Mr. Hershey and what a remarkable man he was.

If you are at all interested in becoming a houseparent or a relief houseparent for the school, there are ALWAYS openings! You can check out the job postings here. Or, if you know any children who are ideal candidates for the school, you can see information here.

We have both become very passionate about this school and its purpose. When we are there, we are taking care of HIS children, and that is an honor. I am so thankful for Milton and Catherine Hershey!