Ralph and Lynda Bright were all set to move from their home near the coast to an active retirement community in the western piedmont when they visited Scotia Village. The community made an immediate impression on the couple.
“It was January,” says Lynda, “I remember there was a fire in the fireplace.”
“We took to it right away,” adds Ralph. “It’s a nice, quiet community without the traffic but everything we need is in close range.”
What the Brights found in Scotia Village and the town of Laurinburg was a community that felt just right for them. “That’s what I love about Laurinburg,” says Lynda. “It is such a small town and such an open community. We have just enjoyed the town as much as Scotia Village.”
“There are so many things here that are of great interest,” Ralph continues, “so many ways that you can become a part of this community. And the staff is just beyond belief. They are excellent all the way around… You can tell, we like it here.”
As a Presbyterian minister who spent half of his career as a hospital chaplain in several parts of the state, Ralph was very familiar with Presbyterian Homes, and the genuine feeling of community that resonates through the residents and staff.
However, even the Brights were surprised by the spirit of involvement and caring that emerged when a young international student came into their lives just a few years ago.
The student’s name is Philip Oji, then a student at St. Andrew’s University who needed a host family while the campus dorms were closed during the Christmas break. When the Bright’s church put out a call for volunteers, Ralph and Lynda and two other couples happily obliged. What followed turned into a friendship that will last a lifetime.
Philip was attending school in the United States on a scholarship from the Nigerian government. After a year and a half of excellent academic achievement at St. Andrew’s, the Nigerian government defaulted on the scholarship, leaving Philip and many other Nigerian students in the U.S., with no way to pay tuition, no credit for the course work they had already completed, and no resources to get back home.
Through their church, Ralph and Lynda were able to quickly raise enough money to get Philip home. But what happened next continues to amaze the Brights to this day.
Since Philip was such an exceptional student, a visit to Campbell University led to scholarship offers that would allow him to continue his studies. Their church family donated more funds, but without Ralph or Lynda ever asking anyone at Scotia Village, “people here gave money to pay his tuition at St. Andrew’s so he could get credit for the courses he already took,” explains Ralph.
This generosity allowed Philip to complete his transfer to Campbell and pick up where he left off.
“St. Andrew’s didn’t offer the pharmacy program Philip needed,” Ralph quickly points out. “So it ended up being better for what he wanted to do.”
This spring, Philip graduated summa cum laude with a degree in health sciences. He will begin graduate studies this fall in pharmacy research in pursuit of his doctorate at Campbell University.
“The (residents of Scotia Village) responded in so many ways, not just financial,” says Lynda. “It shows the good spirit of this community, residents and staff, in supporting him.”
“He stops by and visits, plays soccer with the director,” says Lynda. “He’s made lots of friends in the community and people just love him. It has been very rewarding.”