News & Event
They rode the same school bus and attended first through twelfth grade together. Growing up in rural Alabama after the Great Depression, Don and Laura Harrison were academic rivals. Both sharp students dreamed of attending college.
“My parents pushed education always,” Don said. “My mother had been top of her high school class but because of the Depression couldn’t go to college and my father had only gone to third grade.” After winning a state oratorical contest as well as a scholarship, Don made his way to Birmingham-Southern College.
For Laura, the youngest of seven children, it was even more of a challenge.
“I came from a very humble background,” she said. “I desperately wanted to go to college and there was no way my family could support that, so I had to find a way to do it.”
Laura worked for a year at her former high school and met a recruiter who helped get her to the University of North Alabama. She worked through college and married Don during his first year of medical school.
That determined young girl is now part of a dynamic pair that helps others, particularly in the area of education. Through their donor advised fund at GCF, Don and Laura support programs and scholarships at their alma maters, as well as area nonprofits.
“It was difficult for me, so I’d like to pass on the opportunity to someone from a similar background who is really eager to go to school and does not have the means to do it,” Laura said.
This passion for education led the Harrisons to visit Lower Price Hill Community School and grew into an interest in the entire Price Hill neighborhood, including BLOC Ministries.
They also like the BLOC Coffee Company, which employs residents and has brought business to the neighborhood. The former rivals in learning say they have plans to branch out and help other local communities.
Isn’t Greater Cincinnati fortunate they rode the same school bus?
This story appeared in GCF's 2013 Annual Report.
As we wrap up 2019, we look back at our very impactful year of moving forward on many fronts! As your community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is grateful for the support of and partnerships with our donors, nonprofit partners and community stakeholders to bring about a more equitable future for everyone in our region.