The legacy of Allen and Sandra Washington's children, Rachel, Samantha, Allen Jr., and Alandra will continue to survive through the Washington Memomorial Scholarship Foundation, a fund started to remember the four children who died when the car driven by their oldest daughter Rachel, slipped into the the dark, murky, swamp waters along Airline Hwy. in Kenner, on the day before her 21st birthday.
"I will not cry but I will reach out and use my life and the legacy of my four children to help others," says Allen, a mechanic by trade and a member and deacon of the Cypress Grove Missionary Baptist Church, in Kenner.
The couple started a support group first called Loving and Living Beyond the Loss to provide support for families dealing with the death of a child, but wanted to do more.
"We knew early on that part of our recovery after our four children died was to do something to get through the nights when we cried ourselves to sleep and were really suffering," says Sandra.
The couple says their children's unique personalities and their families belief in God helped them to create the S.O.A.R. program whose mission is to provide a Christian based scholarships that are designed to inspire, encourage and support continued education, academic achievement, and service."
"S.O.A.R. stands for Samantha, On'jeniece, Allen, Jr., and Rachel, the first names of my three older children and the middle name of my youngest daughter," Sandra says.
"This is the first year we have had our banquet and awarded scholarships and we plan to continue to do more," she continues.
This year's receipients include: Terlenda Crawford, of Xavier University, New Orleans Timothy Schaeffer and Tonette Rising, of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and Alexis Suffrin, of Southeastern University, in Hammond.
Washington Memorial Scholarship fund awards a total of four $500 awards to the first five applicants who meet the guidelines, one of which states that "All applicants must be a member in good standing of a church."
"Our children grew up in the church and know the word of God and one my most favoriate memories is coming home late at night and walking through the door and seeing my children all praying - that just made my heart overwhelmed at how strong their faith was," Allen says.
|Photo: Shonna Riggs|
|Sandra and Allen Washington. “I will not cry,” says Sandra. “I will reach out. ... to help others.”|