Skip to Main Content

Road Scholar Donors Share Random Acts of Kindness

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

– Amelia Earhart

Gretchen and Jerry Davis in Alsace, France

What is kindness, and how can one act of kindness make such a profound difference in the lives of so many? The positive ripple effect created by kindness spreads and grows well beyond its primary roots. Today, Random Acts of Kindness Day, we celebrate and thank our donors who give to Road Scholar so that others may experience the joy of a learning adventure with other adult students.  

Acts of kindness uplift spirits, restore faith in humanity and inspire recipients to share this goodwill with others. Today, we shine a light on a few of Road Scholar’s dedicated supporters, Ilene Murray and Jerry and Gretchen Davis, who have chosen to direct their giving to financial assistance by endowing Road Scholar Caregiver Grants and Scholarships. This is one example of how donations help Road Scholar serve older adults. Donations are also vital to support the general operations of the organization and meet its mission of serving lifelong learners. 

Avid Road Scholar participants Jerry and Gretchen have attended more than 90 learning adventures worldwide over the years. In 2011, Jerry and Gretchen endowed the Norcross Scholarship Fund so others could experience the joys of life-changing Road Scholar adventures. The scholarship is a way to honor Jerry’s mother and father, who instilled a passion for lifelong learning. Jerry knows his mother would be pleased that her gift is helping so many others share the learning adventures she once held dear.

In 2018, the Davis family decided to take their giving one step further. Inspired by Jerry and Gretchen’s own experience of caring for their parents, they chose to establish the DreemKumTru Caregiver Grant Fund, named after a small woods camp that, for over 50 years, has served as a gathering place for family and a chance to recharge.

Gretchen and Jerry’s support, over the years, has helped grant recipients participate in life-changing learning adventures that they would otherwise not be able to experience and provided respite to Caregiver Grant recipients. While benefitting from these opportunities, grant recipients enhance the group learning experience for everyone in the program.  

The diversity of their fellow learners is something Jerry and Gretchen value deeply, and they believe what makes the adventure truly spectacular is not about where you learn but who you learn with. “The more unique the group is, the greater the chance for enlightening discussions and different points of view,” says Gretchen. Although not everyone has the means to embark on a learning adventure, they believe learning shouldn’t be a privilege. For Jerry and Gretchen, everyone must receive an equal opportunity to expand their horizons. 

“The opportunity to meet other people means a lot to us,” says Gretchen. “Even if we’re going on a program with friends, we make it a point to meet new friends! Road Scholars come from different backgrounds, persuasions and locations, and it’s wonderful to hear about their experiences. That’s a big part of the learning process for us.”

Through their acts of kindness, Jerry and Gretchen have given many Road Scholar participants something truly invaluable: the opportunity to learn. And with that, the couple has received a great gift in return. “We enjoy learning from our fellow Road Scholars. Providing financial support helps foster the environment in which Road Scholar thrives.”


Ilene Murray Supports Caregiver Grant Program in Memory of Her Husband

Ilene and Ed Murray enjoyed a full life of learning, traveling and exploring the world. Tragically, that very full life came to a sudden halt in 2004 when Ed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After 16 months of chemo and radiation, Ed lost his battle with cancer at age 70.

While trying to manage her grief, Ilene was in the position that many caregivers face after the loss of a loved one — she had to find her footing to carry on alone. “When I felt ready to travel again, I discovered Road Scholar,” says Ilene. 

She attended her first learning adventure near home, then soon enrolled in international programs in Belgium, France and the English countryside. “Being able to travel feeling safe and protected, with an emphasis on learning and enjoying myself, has made a huge difference. It’s helped me realize that life can still be meaningful and fulfilling,” says Ilene.

In an act of kindness, Ilene chose to support Road Scholar and the Caregiver Grant program in memory of her husband. She established the C. Edwin Murray Family Caregiver Grant Fund to help others who may also be trying to get back on their feet. 

Ed and Ilene Murray

Ilene hopes her support of Road Scholar will help others who have faced a loss. “I want them to know that they are not alone and that many of us understand and care,” she says.

Ilene’s support quickly made an impact on another Road Scholar. Carolyn W. from Colorado was a caregiver for her husband during his battle with a fatal neurodegenerative disease called Multiple Symptom Atrophy (MSA). She received a Caregiver Grant to attend Trains, Cherokee and Appalachian Culture program in the Great Smoky Mountains. “Our journey was devastating in so many ways, including financially, that I never imagined I could afford a life-changing adventure,” says Carolyn. “I came away with a sense of belonging, newfound knowledge and a curious mind hungry for more. I also discovered a lot about myself as a widow,” she says. “This opportunity helped me set my grief aside and discover more of the world.”

As a not-for-profit organization, Road Scholar depends on these gifts and the positive effects they create throughout the community. Today, Random Acts of Kindness Day, consider sharing your kindness with Road Scholar. As Gretchen, Jerry and Ilene have experienced, your kindness will spread like the roots of a tree. 

Ed and Ilene Murray in Scotland