Why I Give – Carolyn Blanton Barrett
Generosity has always been a family value for Carolyn Blanton Barrett. As far back as the early 1900s, her mother’s family, the Gardners, were known for providing hospitality to settlers passing through Oklahoma. Her mother, Sadie, and her mother’s twin sister, Madie, were raised offering meals and rooms to strangers, and they passed that spirit of generosity on to their children and grandchildren. Now, the family honors them through their own giving to The Gardner Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.
“They taught us that every good and perfect gift is from God,” Barrett says. “We’re called to be generous and to share. Because we’ve been blessed, it’s good to give back.”
Sadie Gardner Blanton and Madie Gardner Schaffer were longtime champions of education. Both spent decades serving their communities and investing in thousands of students during their 40-year teaching careers. But they might never have gotten their start if it weren’t for the generosity of others. After graduating high school as valedictorian, Sadie was offered a scholarship to Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), but her sister Madie, salutatorian, was not. Sadie refused to go to OBU without her sister, who did not have the financial means to cover tuition. That’s when the women of First Baptist Church of Texhoma, Oklahoma, stepped in and collectively raised the money to cover Madie’s tuition.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if the women in the church hadn’t done that,” Barrett says. “My mother (Sadie) would never have gone to OBU. She might not have married my dad in Trousdale, Oklahoma, where she went for her first teaching job. With the scholarship fund, we want to honor them and recognize the power of a few people getting together to give and the impact it can have on others.”
Sadie and Madie’s children and grandchildren, all college graduates — most with advanced degrees — now collectively contribute to an endowment through WatersEdge. That endowment funds the Gardner Family Scholarship, which is given every year by First Baptist Church of Texhoma. Over the past seven years, they’ve funded more than $4,000 in tuition for seven different university students from the area.
“It’s a tribute to my family,” Barrett says. “We hope it’s an encouragement to those who may need a little extra help to go to school — it’s our way of giving back.”