On March 22nd of this year, just a few months after moving into the city to be closer to me and his granddaughter, my Dad, Dr. Kenny Hasija, had a stroke. And as the sun was coming up on Easter morning, he passed.
It has been an interesting time to deal with this loss to say the least, because my Dad was my coach, my cheerleader, my chief strategist, and my friend. Because boy oh boy, could I have used his caring counsel over the past few months.
And as the corona-crisis continues, I am going to miss having him around over the next several months to do what he did so well, and encourage me to keep on keepin’ on.
My dad has been encouraging me since my earliest memory of him. He urged me to learn more, to try more, to speak up more, to fail more, to fight more, to love more . . . and he sacrificed more than he ever let on to make sure I could take every opportunity I had.
Put it this way . . . how many immigrant Indian Doctors do you know who would say, “Go for it,” when their son said he wanted to give up on law school and pursue a life in the theater???
(He didn’t even blink, by the way.)
His encouragement kept me going then . . . and as I vowed to him in his final few days, I will always keep going.
I also vowed to do everything I could to pass on that spirit of encouragement to my daughter, and to anyone else I met who had a passion for the theater.
So, I started a simple scholarship in his name . . . called The “Dr. Kenny” (as he liked to be called) Encouragement Fund.
I was planning on issuing just one $1,000 gift to someone attending school in the fall and pursuing a career in the theater industry. But after I wrote my blog on Wednesday about the number of artists who may already be out of school but struggling to stay in the city to pursue their dreams, I decided to offer two:
- $1,000 to someone enrolled in or going to post-secondary school.
- $1,000 to any TheaterMaker out there pursuing a career in the business.
If you would like to apply for these scholarships or know someone who would, please click here or share this blog.
Because as I’ve learned from being on the juries for other scholarships, it’s actually hard to get the word out to the folks who could use these funds the most. So please, share this sucker around so we can help encourage folks to keep making theater.
Because we’re going to need TheaterMakers more than ever when this is all over.
I’m hoping to continue this scholarship every year, and I’m hoping that it grows, and that my father’s encouragement to me from above can help me add some zeroes to these amounts. (If you want to help and join some of my family and my father’s friends who are committed to encouraging others, and learn a bit more about my dad, click here.)
To be honest, I even thought about waiting to start this scholarship until I got that big fat hit I will have someday and I could give more.
But then, on Father’s Day this year, I remembered some of the encouraging advice that my Dad gave me years ago.
“Just start, Kenneth. Begin. A seed can’t grow until it is planted.”
I hope that my Dad’s advice and this gift can help encourage some of you.
To apply, click here.