Friday, Jan. 25, conservative billionaire Harold Simmons, who, according to different press reports is either Dallas' "Angel of Grace" or "Most Evil Genius," is getting some well-deserved good press, along with two of his very special daughters. The Harold Simmons Foundation is making a gift of $5 million, spread over four years, to North Texas’ largest charter school network, Uplift Education.
Harold's daughters, Lisa, who is the president of the Simmons' foundation and her baby sister, Serena, learned lessons in giving in big and small ways at the elbows of their mom and dad. An anonymous recipient of their kindness had a remarkable -- but hardly uncommon -- private Simmons story to share. Trust me, those are the very best kind.
In the 70s when their mother, Sandra, learned of a struggling single mom whose eight-year-old son dreaded returning to school each year at summer's end with nothing to write about for the usual, "What I did during summer's vacation," essay, the Simmons family swooped in to save the day.
Lisa, Andrea, and Serena were small children then, but they were there when the little boy and his mom were whisked off for a day in San Antonio in the Simmon's private plane. During the flight, Harold Simmons pulled the wide-eyed little boy to the cockpit to sit in the co-pilot's seat. After a fun-filled day touring the Alamo and having lunch on the Riverwalk, the little boy looked forward to sharing his magical day with his classmates. For him and his mom, the day was "huge." What happened to that little boy is another story worth reading: A poster child for triumph vs. adversity
The Simmons family has always had a soft heart for children. Lisa has had her eye on the charter school network for several years. With a keen interest in the benefits of investing in the future of the underprivileged, she has nothing but praise for the results produced by Uplift Education.
Lisa believes the proverbial proof is in the pudding, noting that after seven years of continued support from their foundation, "When so many students start school without any expectation they will go to college -- and then do -- you know the Uplift approach is working." She added, "The Harold Simmons Foundation is delighted to help more students in North Texas have this opportunity through Uplift."
By the way, that child was not forgotten. Another time, he was invited to a watch a Dallas Cowboy football game from the Simmons' private box at the stadium. For every story by political critics demonizing Harold Simmons, often following reports such as that of the Wall Street Journal, "Texas billionaire doles out election's biggest checks," there is another story, a private story of kindness.
Paired with the highly publicized reports of their unending generosity, it is clear Dallas owes much to the Simmons family, including the daughters. When mom and dad have nurtured traits that signify the real meaning of genuine kindness to their children, who is surprised when their offspring pick up the torch?