It’s not easy to move on after a tragedy. Some experiences leave scars that never fully heal. But transforming that grief into something new and inspirational can help bring a silver lining. That’s what Dr. Barbara Pflum Gobrail did when she lost her daughter, Christina Issa Gobrail, in a car accident in 1991. She established a charitable fund through The Dayton Foundation to perpetuate “Tina’s” memory and help other students with their education.
Q: Where are you originally from and what brought you to Dayton?
A: I grew up in Pittsburg and later moved to Cincinnati, where I often spent my summers with my grandparents, to do my residency. That’s where I met my husband, Makram Issa Gobrail, M.D., who also was doing a residency in pediatric medicine. I specialized in children’s allergies. We decided early on that to keep the phone calls straight, I would use my maiden name, Dr. Pflum, professionally. We lived in Waynesville and later moved to Oakwood when my husband got a position at Dayton Children’s (Hospital). He passed away eight years ago, and I’m retired now.
Q: Please share a little about Tina. What was she most passionate about?
A: Tina was a very kind and talented student. She enjoyed playing softball in high school and soccer on the Waynesville club team when we lived in Waynesville. Ironically, Tina’s younger brother and my son, Jim, now teaches at Archbishop Alter High School and is the soccer coach. She also liked to read and play the piano.
Her middle name, Issa, which also is my son’s middle name, was passed down from my husband, who was from Egypt. It means “God Saves.”
Q: What happened to Tina?
A: Tina was 16 years old and had her driver’s learning permit, so we were out driving one day. I was in the front passenger’s seat, like you’re supposed to do, when another car hit us. The driver of that car was intoxicated. Tina did not survive, and I was critically injured.
Q: Why did you decide to honor her memory through a charitable fund at The Dayton Foundation?
A: Our stock broker was the one who first suggested it and recommended The Dayton Foundation as a place to manage the fund. We knew we wanted to do something to remember Tina and help others, so we were very appreciative of our broker for connecting the dots. Tina was a student at Alter High School and was fortunate to have earned a full scholarship. Because of this, we created the Christina Issa Gobrail Scholarship Fund to provide tuition assistance for students at Alter. Her class also planted a tree in her memory in front of the school.
The Dayton Foundation has been wonderful to work with in administering Tina’s fund, as well as my Charitable Checking AccountSM that I use for making other charitable gifts. I meet with Diane Timmons in the Grants Department usually once a year to review my funds. Archbishop Alter also has been very supportive and keeps me regularly informed about the awards.
Q: How is the scholarship awarded?
A: I wanted the school to be in charge of the scholarship, as they know the students best. Alter High School gets one check from my fund each year, and the principal selects the recipients. My only preference is that awards be given to students who possess strong leadership qualities, like Tina had, and who have a financial need.
Q: What advice can you share about giving to the community?
A: Just find something you care about and do it. I also recommend talking to The Dayton Foundation. They are such a great resource, with knowledge about giving and the community. They can help guide you and make your giving so much easier.
Q: How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?
A: … needed and good. I feel that what I’m doing is worthwhile.
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The Dayton Foundation has been helping people help others since 1921 by managing charitable funds, awarding grants to nonprofits and launching community initiatives. Contact the Foundation at (937) 222-0410 or visit www.daytonfoundation.org.