Nearly three years ago, Lisa Gillette experienced an event that most mothers can barely fathom – the loss of a child. Though her daughter, Kylie Gillette is no longer with us, the Gillette family is determined that Kylie’s spirit, character and drive will live on for years to come. Establishing a scholarship in their family name, Lisa shares with CCF the importance of scholarship, education and legacy.
What was the motivation behind creating the Gillette Scholarship Fund?
Our 17-year-old daughter, Kylie, was killed by a drunk driver in August 2014, two days before the start of her senior year in high school. She grew up in the Upstate, had a wide circle of friends, was an exceptional student, and always went above and beyond what was expected of her in school. After relocating to Charleston and a grueling junior year at a new school, she managed to maintain a 4.75 GPA. Her perseverance during this tough time granted her many new friends and a newfound excitement for a different city, college and a very bright future. Needless to say, we were very proud parents. Since her future was taken away from her, and us, we wanted to establish an academic scholarship in her memory to encourage kids to continue their education and develop a love of learning like she had. She would be very proud knowing that she is helping young people achieve their dreams.
What does the Gillette Scholarship Fund and philanthropy mean to you and your family?
We have always given to those in need, but now it really hits home. Kylie always talked about starting a nonprofit shelter for homeless people and animals. Her idea was that the homeless community could earn a temporary place to live, eat and shower in exchange for caring for the many homeless animals. It was just one of her dreams. Although we would love to make that a reality for her, we decided to do something a little more attainable. Starting a scholarship program in Kylie’s memory is our way of helping future students be able to attend college when they otherwise might not have the means to afford it. It’s a way of helping to educate the next generation, all while remembering our daughter.
How have you seen the Gillette Scholarship Fund impacting the community?
The outpouring of love and compassion for our family in the Charleston community, as well as the Spartanburg community where we moved from in 2014 is truly amazing. I believe a lot of kids have been affected by this tragedy because it happened to someone they knew well. The Country Club of Charleston started an annual golf tournament in 2015 to raise funds to support Kylie’s Scholarship awards. We as a family are very grateful for their generosity, but more importantly, they are also contributing to the well-being of many students on their way to a successful career.
What do you hope to be the lasting and future impact of the Gillette Scholarship Fund?
We hope to raise funds for many years which will enable us to continue with the assistance of college tuition for deserving young college students. We also hope that having Kylie’s name on the Scholarship Fund, that she will be remembered for her compassion for people (and animals), her willingness to help those in need, and will encourage the recipients to follow their dreams of getting a college education. Most importantly, to bring awareness, to young people specifically, about the consequences of drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel.
The Gillette Scholarship Fund will become active in the coming year. Students will be selected based on academic ability and performance, involvement in extra-curricular and community activities, financial need, character and personality, personal aspirations and ability to overcome obstacles. To learn more about the variety of fund options offered at Coastal Community Foundation, click here.