Why I Give to Bethune-Cookman University: Valareese Poole


Valarese V. Poole, 1981, Business Administration/Personnel Management

I’ve never taken a moment to ask myself “Why I Give To Bethune-Cookman University.” So, when posed with the question, I actually had to find the words because all of my giving has come from my heart. I remember as a child, my parents were always helping others by giving. It was the Christian thing to do, whether you had little or much. Of course, after my father passed away shortly before my fifth birthday, we had very little. But I always knew I would go to college. In my home it was always WHEN you go to college, not IF you go to college. As the youngest of three girls where my older siblings were already preparing for college, I knew I had no choice.

I was born and raised in Daytona Beach and grew up in Pine Haven in the midst of the legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. She was inspirational and an icon in our community. This was during a time when schools were segregated and we could not drink from the water fountains located in the stores in Downtown Daytona Beach unless it was marked with a “Colored” sign. We could not use the restrooms either, and, having lunch and a milkshake at the counter of the downtown drug store was not happening. The only summer jobs available to black teenage girls during this time were maids at the hotels on the beach side. As much as I hated the work, it motivated me to get an education. Having Bethune-Cookman (College) University in our community gave me hope. If Dr. Bethune could accomplish what she did during those times on the city dump and only $1.50, then why couldn’t I make a difference some day? I grew up with a passion to do so.

Statistics at that time did not favor me to grow up and be educated and or successful. But GOD had a plan for my life. I never imagined that I would sit in a corporate board room in Manhattan looking out over the skyline of New York and the Hudson River. I never imagined that I would make trips to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and sit in the office of Florida Senators having discussions with them as an advocate for Human Resource issues relating to Defense Contractors and the Space Program. My education at Bethune-Cookman made all of this possible for a black girl who grew up in the projects. And you ask me, “Why I Give To Bethune-Cookman University?" My answer to you is I can’t afford not to give. I hope my giving will provide an opportunity for some other child who is living in poverty but has a desire to make a difference some day.

“Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.”~Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

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