SPSCC Foundation: Creating Connections, Changing Lives for Scholarship Donors and Recipients

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
It's hard to tell who gets more satisfaction from a SPSCC Foundation Scholarship - donors or recipients. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~ Anne Frank

Giving is at the heart of The SPSCC Foundation. The generous, giving spirit of the Thurston County community supports SPSCC students and programs through donations ot the Foundation. One of the most impactful areas for both donors and recipients is through gifts in the form of scholarships. Funds are earmarked by donors with a defined purpose in mind to reflect the donors’ interests or giving objectives.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
Dana Garson, far right, is the founder of an endowed scholarship given year after year to students with financial needs to attend college. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation

The SPSCC Foundation awarded the largest number of scholarships and emergency grants ever this year ­­– $450,000 to students in need. And, with 100% of every scholarship dollar going directly to a student, donors know they are making a full and immediate impact.

The best part? Donors and recipients get to meet, face-to-face, at the annual Scholarship Reception. The joy and gratitude of the students is equaled only by the deep satisfaction of the donors knowing they have done something so impactful. There are lots of tears.

In the stories below, meet a few donors and recipients and learn what being a part of the SPSCC Foundation’s scholarship program means to them.

Cindy Hough – Helping Hand Scholarship Donor

Cindy Hough is a community college fan. A member of first the SPSCC Board of Trustees and 32-year member of the Foundation Board of Directors, Cindy is well versed in what a college education means for students. Likewise, she knows how hard some students struggle simply to make it to school, buy books, and pay tuition each quarter.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
Donors Cindy and John Hough established the Helping Hand Scholarship to assist students that needed a hand up to overcome barriers to their education. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation.

For many years, Cindy and her husband John gave an annual donation to The SPSCC Foundation. It wasn’t until the couple’s own daughter enrolled in college that they experienced first-hand the emotional and financial support a college student needs to succeed. “I kept thinking, she is a great student – intelligent, energetic, full of potential. But, what about all the students out there without parental support? Would our daughter be able to put herself through college if she was in a different family situation?”

The experience spurred the Houghs to fund the Helping Hand Scholarship. “We designed it not as an academic scholarship, but a needs scholarship,” says Cindy. “It is intended to give a student a helping hand to overcome barriers they face and move forward with their education.” The Houghs set the scholarship criteria based on a student’s circumstance hoping to reach someone just as eager and energetic as their daughter, but in need of financial support.

When the Houghs attended The Experience in October, the young woman sought them out to say thank you in person. “She is darling,” says Cindy. “Bubbly, energetic, and full of tears saying, ‘I couldn’t do it without you.’ It made all the difference to us.” The Houghs have plans for lunch with her soon. “We’ll keep cheerleading for her and her future.”

Mary Currall – Dana Garson Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Mary is a 22-year-old nursing student at SPSCC. She was selected for the Dana Garson Endowed Scholarship based on her financial need. Mary has been sick since she was a young child suffering from over 13 identified chronic diseases. Her health issues have resulted in countless surgeries, treatments and medications that have nearly bankrupted her family. Yet, Mary soldiers on, seeing a future for herself as a nurse, inspired by the countless nurses who have cared for her over the years.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
Mary Currall has spent most of her life in and out of hospitals resulting in staggering medical expenses for her family. Her scholarship makes it possible for her to reach her dream of becoming a nurse. Photo courtesy: Mary Currall

As a full-time nursing student, Mary’s financial burden, one she shoulders all on her own, has increased. Costs for supplies (think stethoscope and scrubs) combined with books and tuition are more than she can bear. Through scholarship support and financial aid, she’s able to overcome the financial barriers she thought would prevent her from pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse.

“It is still hard for me to believe that donors who have never met me, know very little about me and have no connection to me, would put so much faith in me and stand behind me with so much support,” she says. “That kind of confidence, kindness and belief in who I am and what I can achieve is something that touches my heart very, very deeply. I know that if this school and its donors continue to put their faith in me and share their generosity with me, I will become the nurse I’ve been inspired to be and touch the lives of all my patients in the same way that mine was touched so deeply. I will succeed.”

Doug Mah – Gateway Rotary Scholarship

The Gateway Rotary is the newest scholarship donor at The SPSCC Foundation. The service club decided to pledge funds this year for three individual scholarships for students who reflect Rotary’s ultimate goals of “Service Above Self.” The three scholarships were earmarked for students in three areas: education, business,and Gold Star Family members. (Gold Star Families are those who have lost a loved in active military duty).

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
Doug Mah is the Service Chair for the Gateway Rotary. The service club founded three new scholarship this year through the SPSCC Foundation. Photo courtesy: Gateway Rotary.

“We surveyed club members about their interests and values and these came out on top as areas we wanted to focus on,” shares Doug Mah, the club’s Service Chair and the newest trustee on the SPSCC Board.

“The process to establish this scholarship was easy and ensured club values and interests were articulated through the parameters we were able to place on recipients,” Mah continues. Club members are excited to interact with recipients at future events. “We hope we can really connect recipients with the work of our club. We hope this experience will stick with them in the future and they may be inspired to join Rotary or another service organization. We hope they can pay it forward,” says Mah.

Viola Eckert – Michael Martin CAD/BIM Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Vi, a retired veteran, returned to school with the goal of becoming an residential designer. Like many students at SPSCC, Vi is seeking a new future for herself and her family.

She applied for a SPSCC Foundation scholarship by writing a short essay and submitting letters of recommendation, helping the scholarship committee match her with the best scholarship option. Vi was awarded the Michael Martin CAD/BIM Endowed Scholarship for students in the computer aided drafting (CAD) program.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
The annual SPSCC Scholarship Reception is an opportunity for donors and recipients to meet, connect and say thank you. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation.

“The Foundation does an extraordinary job working with alumni and the local community to fund as many scholarships as they possibly can,” shares Vi. “Their hard work truly benefits the student body at SPSCC.”

Vi used the funds to purchase computer equipment and programs to aid in school work and further her career after graduation this spring. “These programs are expensive and require a rather robust computer to efficiently run,” she says. “This scholarship makes the purchase much more attainable for me.”

Ultimately, Vi’s scholarship creates room for her “to breathe.” Scholarships don’t have to be big to make a real impact. “This scholarship will help me more quickly reach a point where I’m doing well enough in my career that I can come back and be a donor, funding an annual scholarship for another CAD/BIM student.  I truly believe in paying it forward!”

Mark and Lauri Allen – Herman and Marcia Winters Memorial Scholarship Donors

Herman and Marcia Winters are Lauri Allen’s parents. Herman was a child of the Depression who spent a year of his youth living in an orphanage. Herman got a hand up from a man, a stranger, who eventually turned into his father-in-law, Marcia’s dad. “Getting a hand up gave him confidence, helped him see a future for himself,” says Mark.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships
Lauri and Mark Allen, pictured with last year’s recipient, established a scholarship in memory of Lauri’s parents. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation.

Herman and Marcia had four children, 10 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. The Allens founded the scholarship in their name, honoring Herman’s story of overcoming the barriers in his life.

Memorial scholarships have meaning beyond the individual donors, too. “We were able to share the scholarship and the recipient’s story with all of Herman and Marcia’s family and it meant a lot to everyone,” shares Mark.

Mark knows first-hand the financial struggle of college, putting himself through college, with two years in community college. Deeply committed to the work The SPSCC Foundation is doing, Mark now serves on the Foundation Board.

As donors, the highlight is the Scholarship Reception. “We really enjoyed meeting the recipient, Theresa, last year,” shares Lauri. “She was a wonderful young lady, so deserving and so kind. We were thrilled.”

At the Scholarship Reception, donors and recipients are seated together and share a meal, enabling conversation and connection, and in many cases hugs and tears.

Those interested in becoming donors are encouraged to contact The SPSCC Foundation. The process is simple and scholarships can be created in nearly any amount and with a variety of criteria. When it comes to becoming a SPSCC Foundation scholarship donor, the return on investment is hard to measure. Not because it’s intangible, but because it’s so rewarding. For more information visit the SPSCC Foundation at www.spscc.edu/scholarships.

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