Our journey through life is periodically marked by unexpected encounters that can ultimately become a source for inspiration and renew our faith in others. My own personal journey to the city of St. Petersburg was exciting and fulfilling, but the road I have traveled since settling in this city has allowed me to connect with new and wonderful people. One particular non-profit organization, the Police Athletic League (PAL) of St. Petersburg has inspired me to work diligently for the children of this city, and has allowed me to connect with amazing people.

Last fall I was invited to meet with a couple who had offered to support PAL through a charitable donation. As a PAL Board member, I’m frequently asked to attend similar events, but I had no idea that when I stepped into the Midtown PAL that afternoon, I would encounter an incredible couple whose strength and determination would inspire everyone present. Tim and Joanne Scott live far away from the streets of Midtown, beyond the borders of St. Petersburg, and yet despite limited exposure to the city, they stood in the simple surroundings of our PAL facility that day to deliver hope – Cory’s Hope.

Three years earlier the Scotts experienced the painful and unexpected loss of their son Cory, a 26-year old teacher at Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park. As a teacher Cory dedicated his young career to helping disadvantaged children in St. Petersburg, first at Lakewood High School, and then by transfer to Sanders School. He educated, coached and counseled in his personal quest to give the children he touched the one thing they needed most – hope.

It is simply not possible to imagine the void left in a parent’s world when a child dies unexpectedly, and Joanne and Tim searched for ways to cope, but more importantly ways to keep Cory alive for the disadvantaged children he cared so deeply about. From their despair Cory’s Hope Foundation was born and with a mission to: “Provide funding for programs to support at risk/disadvantaged children to improve their educational success, provide ongoing advocacy, inspire positive change, leadership and character development, and enable them to visualize their future clearly.”

Supported by their friends and family, the Scotts set out to identify organizations that would benefit from the support of Cory’s Hope. Tim had read about the St. Petersburg Police Department’s Second Chance Program for first time youth offenders. He contacted the department and ended up on the line of Assistant Chief Jim Previtera, who told him the Second Chance Program was city-funded. The two spoke about other possibilities and Previtera recommended that the Scotts consider PAL. He invited them to tour the Midtown PAL with him.

A week or so later, Previtera and PAL Liaison Officer Dave Lopez met the Scotts at Midtown. In the hour that followed the couple saw Officer Lopez and Assistant Chief Previtera interact with the children in PAL’s programs, and listened as Lopez talked about the efforts of the police department to support the children of the Midtown neighborhoods.

Tim, a former police officer, and Joanne, told the Assistant Chief about their son, about what he did at Lakewood and his passion for the children at Richard L. Sanders. By the time the couple readied to leave, they’d seen hope in PAL. The two decided PAL would be the first recipient of support from Cory’s Hope Foundation.

So we stood together that afternoon and the Scotts presented a check to the PAL Board with Police Chief Anthony Holloway and PAL children beside them. Assistant Chief Previtera spoke for Tim and Joanne, telling those gathered of Cory and of Cory’s Hope.

Although many of the children around the room may not have fully understood the moment, it was impossible not to see that hope in their innocent eyes. It was a great feeling and our hearts went out to Joanne and Tim as the emotion of the moment was understandable.

Months later Cory’s Hope has provided continued to support for PAL, and Tim and Joanne have become familiar faces. They have facilitated bicycle donations at Christmas for PAL kids, and they supported us with a back-to-school event just last week. Their story is one of the unexpected ones in life, but through them and through their son Cory, we all have greater hope for a better tomorrow for so many young lives in our city….… We have Cory’s Hope.

To donate to Cory’s Hope Foundation, visit their website or contact Tim Scott at 571-216-0397.

To support the great work that is taking place at the St. Petersburg Police Athletic League and the youth they serve, contact Denyve Boyle at 727-800-1725 or dboyle@stpetepal.org.

Audrey McGuckin serves on the board of PAL. She consults with top CEOs and HR Executives to solve their toughest and most complex talent and personnel challenges. To connect with Audrey on how she can assist you and your organization, visit our contact page or message her directly at audrey@audreymcguckin.com.