“One day, a woman walked into my office and asked what I would do if somebody donated a bunch of money to the program,” recounts Norm Chapman, Automotive Program Professor at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). “I told her how difficult it is for students to buy the tools they need for their training. Some of these students barely have enough money to buy shoes, let alone expensive tools.”

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Evelyne Betti, just left of center, pictured with SPSCC Automotive Technology students on one of the annual Betti Tool Fund Days. Photo credit: SPSCC Foundation

That woman is Evelyne Betti, and the story of how she ended up in Norm Chapman’s office that day is amazing in itself. Mrs. Betti had just finished lunch in the Percival Room with then SPSCC President Kenneth Minnaert. They were walking across campus and she spotted the Automotive Technology Department and made a beeline for the building, leaving President Minnaert in her dust. After looking around and peppering Chapman with questions, she handed him a $10,000 check.

Mrs. Betti’s intent was that half of the funds be used by the Automotive Technology Program to purchase instructional equipment for the classroom. The other half was to be used for tool vouchers for second year automotive technology and welding students.

Once a year, on what is now called “Betti Tool Fund Day,” about a dozen tool vendors come to the Automotive Technology shop and set up displays. Many of the vendors offer students a discount of as much as 50% off list prices as long as they are enrolled in the program. Each student also receives a voucher for around $200, give or take depending on the year and number of students, from the Betti Tool Fund to purchase some of the tools they need for their training and their future careers.

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2017 Automotive Technology and Welding students gathered for Betti Tool Fund Day. Photo credit: SPSCC Foundation

Until she passed away in 2007, Betti continued to donate to the Tool Fund at SPSCC. Early in her marriage, someone had done a kind deed for her husband, Bruno, and it made a tremendous difference in their lives. That gesture was the impetus behind Bruno and Evelyne’s charitable giving to many causes in the Olympia area. Betti felt that unexpected kindnesses should be replicated by those who have benefited from someone else’s support. For this reason, she suggests that students who benefit from her gift pay it forward some day, either while they are still in school or later in their careers, or that they do something kind for someone as a way to honor her confidence in them.

Mrs. Betti’s vision for paying it forward came full circle when a former Automotive Technology student, who now owns a successful automotive business, returned to SPSCC to start a completion fund for students who are in their last quarter of the program and need financial assistance.

Second-year Automotive Technology student Debbie Krzyska already has plans to pay it forward when she graduates. “My mom always said, ‘You get what you give,’” said Krzyska. “I want to open my own business and help people who have been ripped off by dishonest people.” Krzyska started working on cars in her dad’s shop in Hawaii in the 1970’s. “Dad was one of the best mechanics in Hawaii. He was my mentor,” she shares.

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SPSCC Automotive Technology students meet with tool vendors to select tools on Betti Tool Fund Day.

Krzyska, who works in the security department at SPSCC while she finishes her training, is on the Vice-President’s list, serves on the Automotive Advisory Board at SPSCC, and just turned 60. Her appreciation and enthusiasm for the Betti Tool Day were apparent as she looked at tools and laughed with her classmates and professors.

Tim Myette, who is in his last quarter of the Automotive Program, expressed his appreciation for both the Betti Tool Fund voucher and for the discounts offered by many of the vendors. Myette was able to purchase an impact gun and a torque wrench for about half of the list price.  Myette’s training in the SPSCC Automotive Technology Program and the help provided by Betti Tool Day have given him the ability to work as a mechanic at Toyota of Olympia while completing his education.

After serving as a vehicle mechanic in the Army, Myette was honorably discharged in 2015, moved to Washington and began working as a mechanic while beginning in the Automotive Technology program. “In the Army, I was in charge of millions of dollars of equipment. Tools were very expensive and the Army didn’t give me a tool allowance.”

The Betti’s legacy continues to pay it forward through their generous donations to the SPSCC Foundation to give students the tools they need in order to finish their training and lead successful careers.  For more information about the Betti Tool Fund and the SPSCC Foundation, call 360-596-5430 or email foundation@spscc.edu.

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