It’s about time that I introduced myself. My name is Ashley Cain, and even though a few of you know me, others are probably like……. Okay, who is this lady?
First, let me tell you how the journey began, with Sam Chase of course. I had the pleasure of not only going to high school with Sam, but knew him the best through working summers together. I was a senior when he was a freshman, so most of our interactions were while we were trying to serve appetizers to an elite family of wealthy people, while basically juggling at the same time. To say that the job was stressful is quite the understatement, but it definitely served as substantial bonding time for the servers in particular. Let’s set the scene: working at a private estate for the summer, with basically everyone who you went to high school with, learning skills and meeting people you wouldn’t at any other job. The best way to describe it is like being a Yachtie on Below Deck, but basically on land without the permission of any cameras at all (no jokes here). I trained Sam during his first summer, and my third. He was bright eyed and eager to help, and I remember finding it refreshing. I also remember him actually volunteering to carry or lift all the heavy stuff, and insisted on being my chauffeur whenever we had to drive somewhere at the estate in our company car. Essentially, he was a gentleman and I was really grateful for it. During our time there we laughed so much, and any time I could not carry something myself, I was quite literally driving around and searching for him so I could beg him to help me. Spoiler alert: he never said no. I also firmly believe I never saw him frown, which as a result meant that I was never frowning either. He made work enjoyable, during some of the hardest summers of my life, and he never even knew.
Now let's discuss how I ended up here, working for the incredible Chase family, and the amazing fund they have created to spread Sam’s love and light. I received my teaching credential in 2020, and the four walls of the pandemic closed in. My experience as a teacher was completely engulfed in the middle of our society trying to navigate COVID 19, which really highlighted some inequities in education that children and a lot of teachers had already been experiencing. My mental health REALLY suffered. I had the two most joyous classes of 5 year olds a girl could have; it was so rewarding to be their teacher/mom and I absolutely see each and every one of them as a member of my family. I mention this because when my second year teaching was at its worst, even those relationships weren’t enough to get me to stay. To preserve my mental health, I resigned in December 2021. I was truly devastated: I come from a family of proud teachers, was raised by a teacher, and felt as though teaching was my dream job. In one fell swoop, it felt as though those dreams were dashed, and I instantly felt as though I had failed my students, my family, and my community.
As an avid follower of the fund on instagram, I happened upon a couple posts in the recent months, and was reflecting on how appreciative I was of the fund and its purpose, since its creation: I had remembered how much guidance I needed when I was exiting high school and taking on the world. I suddenly realized that I actually had time outside of a classroom, and a more flexible schedule! I wanted to be involved in something that served the community, and allowed me to connect with Sam and my late friend, Karl. I had been looking for ways to involve myself in community work, in a way to process my own grief; now that I wasn’t able to serve the youth within a classroom, I decided to take a leap of faith and send Carter and Courtney an email….. And the rest is history. I’ve been with the fund since January, but I feel like I’ve known the Chases for a lifetime. I can't imagine spending my days anywhere else, with anyone else. Even though I was joining for a good cause and purpose (to serve young adults), I realized that ironically it had provided me with direction too. I was one of those young adults, and because of this family, I am one of many success stories to come. If you’re ever wondering if a resource, scholarship, or event applies to you, it does. Don’t count yourself out! We can’t wait to show you all that is to come.
Cheers to the first blog post!