An Extraordinary Act of Kindness

Taela Fullilove
August 16th was the day Taela Fullilove's dreams were to come true - she was going to college.  Not just any college but Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa and its world-class veterinary medicine program where she could pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.  It was with great anticipation that Taela packed up her belongings on Monday the 15th as a relative would be renting a car and driving her from Minneapolis to Iowa the next morning.  Or so she thought.  Sadly, the ride fell through.  In a panic, Taela called other family members and friends, all to no avail. College awaited, but she had no means for getting there.

Enter Margie Soran, a partner in Social Venture Partners and a generous Genesys Works supporter.  Margie runs the SVP Teens program, in which Taela had participated as a Class 3 Genesys Works Young Professional last year.  Here's Margie's story of her special day helping a determined young lady in need:

"On Monday, August 15, Taela called. She explained that her ride to Iowa State had fallen through. She had tried calling some other people but no one was able to take her. She asked if I could. I said that I needed to check my schedule and get some things rearranged and would call her back.

I just ached for her but also had to hand it to her. She was being resourceful, proactive and hopeful. I was thrilled to receive that call for help.  Here was a teen that had spent a handful of hours with me in the past 8 months and felt comfortable enough to call. Having taken 4 of my own children to college, I knew she was excited but also scared as she began this new chapter in her life.  So many unknowns and changes awaited her.  It was important that she get a good start, just like any 18 year old beginning college.   So after rearranging a few things, I called her back and we were set to leave the next day at noon.

I thought it would be just be Taela coming. But when I drove up to load her belongings, her mother, Cassandra, asked if she could join us. Of course she could, and did. Taela gave her sister and nephew a big hug and off we went. 

On the way, we were talking about how she decided to attend Iowa State when I found out from her proud mother that Taela had received recognition for the 70+ scholarship/grant applications that she had completed.  She was able to get scholarships to completely cover the first years of college!  I was so impressed.  Not many kids work that hard and put that much time into that process.  Again, a determined young woman.

It was so special to have her mother join us.  I know that her mother felt excited for Taela and it meant so much for her to see where her child was going to spend the next year.  She got to meet Taela’s roommate and mother.  They had a great conversation which left both mothers feeling better about leaving their children.  After hugs and kisses and a reminder to call your Mom, we returned back to Minneapolis." 

From her dorm room in Willow Hall at ISU, Taela responded "Margie stepped up and helped when I had no where else to turn.  I'm so thankful for her generosity."

A calamity avoided.  A special memory created.  For two amazing women. 

Jeff Tollefson thanking Margie and Phil Soran


  1. I love this story!

  2. It is amazing how many hurdles some people have to face in order to reach for their dreams. I am so glad Taela didn't let this stop her from going!