Filling Someone’s Bucket with Love

Any parent with a child at the Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club Trails preschool over the last 10 years knows Miss Diana. They know she connects with each child and teaches far more than letters and numbers. She teaches kindness, respect, and how to “fill each other’s buckets” with love. And most parents know that Miss Diana puts in extra long teaching hours whenever she’s needed and, until recently, helped care for her ailing father in the early mornings and late nights.

So it’s no surprise Scripps Ranch parents wanted to do something special for Miss Diana to thank her for helping us raise better children in our community. What may be surprising is how the idea grew into a community effort and a wonderful example of the Scripps Ranch spirit.

A few years ago, while discussing a family trip to Hawaii, Susie Fournier encouraged Miss Diana to take a well-deserved vacation. She replied, “I would miss the kids too much…and besides, I’m a preschool teacher. I don’t go to Hawaii.” Susie wished she could send her on a trip.

After hearing that Miss Diana’s beloved father passed away in late 2014, Susie had an idea. She mentioned to a fellow parent, Kristin Dutton, that she’d like to raise money to send Miss Diana on a dream vacation. Kristin quickly said, “I’m in!”

So the two Scripps Ranch moms sent out an email to see if others might be interested. Susie said, “The overwhelming response was, ‘Yes! I’m in.’ And people gave generously. It was clear everyone felt the same gratitude and appreciation I had always felt. Her strong work ethic and loving care for other people’s kids is something to be admired.”

In the next few months the contributions came in and remained a secret from Miss Diana, with help from the rest of the preschool staff. Susie and Kristin opened a bank account for the cause and kept people updated with the exciting, rising total. Then earlier this year, 45 families gathered at the Swim and Racquet Club and invited Miss Diana’s family to join in a festive party to surprise her with their gift.

Miss Diana thought she was helping with a surprise party for Mr. Tim, another well-loved staff member. However, upon reaching the large gathering, Mr. Tim pulled a microphone from his pocket and revealed that the party was actually to celebrate her. Susie presented Miss Diana with a photo book containing pictures of all the kids and families that were part of the night, holding handmade signs with special messages. With Miss Diana visibly in shock, Susie reminded her of their conversation years ago and began reading some of the email responses she received from families. They included: “Everyone knows how much Miss Diana deserves this”; “Miss Diana has been such a special part of our family”; and “Thanks for doing this for our BELOVED Miss Diana.”

Then came a gift of colorful travel guides, accompanied by the check—more than enough to send her and her family on a long overdue vacation to anywhere they wanted to go. There were cheers and tears of happiness and gratitude. Miss Diana’s response? Typical! “You don’t have to do all this for ME! I love my job!” It was a special night in Scripps Ranch, indeed.

As Kristin summed it up, “It was humbling to see how this community came together to honor and celebrate someone so deserving. Miss Diana loves our kids as much as we do and greets every day with a genuine and warm smile no matter what is going on in her life. The impact she has left on us, our kids, and this community is amazing, and I was glad I was part of it.”

Miss Diana and her family are planning their dream vacation to a tropical destination. And while the last few months after losing her dad have been hard, this gift has given them some joy and happiness.

Maria DeRisi, SR Resident