Emily's Story

How the Educating Emily Fund Began: Service and Selflessness in Action

Years ago, August Turak met a 7-year-old girl named Emily: The little girl who magically changed his life. The story begins when Turak hired Emily’s father to do odd jobs on his farm. A divorced father, he brought Emily along on weekends. Emily and August were soon great friends, but he gradually learned a terrible secret: This remarkable little girl was being bullied and failing miserably at her dysfunctional public school.

Turak decided to provide the financial assistance that Emily needed for a private school. Coincidentally, he began sharing the story on social media. The positive reaction was amazing and deeply moving. Not only have people been supportive, but many have asked how they could contribute as well.

This groundswell also got us thinking: Why not start an Educating Emily Fund Fund through
the foundation? We could continue to help Emily and others like her. Those who want to
donate would get a tax deduction as well. It was well received by the SKSF Board of
Directors, who quickly and unanimously voted in favor of making our idea a reality. We
have since established the fund and a process for continuing our efforts to practice what
we preach – service and selflessness. We have expanded on our ongoing efforts and
help others.

Upon starting her third year at Crossroads Christian School, Emily’s grades had gone from Ds and Fs, to As and Bs. Emily began the fourth grade at CCS with below average reading and comprehension – by the sixth grade, she had transformed into an avid reader who carries two or three books “just to read for fun” in her backpack. And perhaps more importantly, a once depressed little girl was eagerly looking forward to
going to school.

Then in March 2020 COVID cancelled schools and Miss Emily spent the rest of her sixth-grade year doing online virtual learning.

Miss Emily was not able to attend in-person classes at CCS during her seventh grade and instead had to complete seventh grade through Liberty University Online Academy. This came with an entirely new set of challenges for Emily including self-paced learning with no instructor.
She finished the first semester course load, but failed math. Our village jumped into action and created the Educating Emily University (EEU) – by adding an “Educating Emily Internship Program” to help a college student with boarding and tuition while providing Emily the educational support and big sister mentorship she was lacking.

Read more about Emily’s journey at Educating Emily University.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. 

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson