ECCF scholarships awarded to area students

ST. MARYS – A number of area students headed off to college or other postsecondary education will have some help thanks to scholarships awarded through the Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF). Students from Elk County and the surrounding area were awarded 87 scholarships totaling over $100,600 through the foundation, which helps individuals and groups achieve their philanthropic goals by assisting with the creation of endowments and other funding, and then awarding that funding locally to individuals, nonprofit organizations and others. ECCF Executive Director Paula Fritz Eddy said the foundation manages and administers funding provided through the generosity of many area donors. "We [ECCF] have been growing by leaps and bounds and people recognize us for our scholarships," Eddy said. "We have 82 funds at the foundation; 44 of them are designated for scholarships. Those 44 scholarships are all a story. Every one of our donors or groups of people who have chosen to start a scholarship here started it for a reason."Most of them are very personal reasons. There's people who have passed; there's people who haven't passed but have been very influential in their lives. It's really diverse, and every single one of these scholarships has a story about someone." Seventeen scholarships were awarded to graduates of Elk County Catholic High School; 24 to St. Marys Area High School; 11 to Johnsonburg Area High School; 22 to Ridgway Area High School; four to Kane Area High School; and three each to students at DuBois and Brockway Area high schools. Three more scholarships were awarded to students already attending postsecondary institutions. “The dollars given to these students will impact generations to come as these young adults begin to shape our communities,” Eddy said. “Donors who have established these scholarships are contributing to our future leaders.”Eddy said the ECCF’s board of directors is grateful to all who have provided scholarships for area students and added that anyone who is interested in establishing a scholarship may contact her at 834-2125. She said while there are a "handful" of pass-through scholarships, the majority have been set up to last. "Most of these scholarships are endowed, which means we're only giving away a very small portion of the monies that were given, because most of them will last forever. They'll be here forever. They're not going to go away," Eddy said. Students who gathered for a picture on Thursday to celebrate receiving their scholarships through ECCF expressed their appreciation for the financial gifts and said they will be very helpful as they begin their postsecondary studies. Ridgway Area graduate Raechel Wilson will attend Clarion University in the fall. The first-ever recipient of the RAHS Alumni Scholarship said the funding will help her meet her educational goals and ease the financial burden on her family. "What it means to me is, my mom a couple of years ago was sick, and the hospital bill was extensive," Wilson said. "Ever since, we've been struggling to pay house bills and all that, so any support financially I can get, it helps get me further to college and to be a writer like I want to be one day."Emily Dickey, a 2012 graduate of SMAHS, will be studying communication disorders at California University. "The scholarships I won are really going to help me because it would have been hard to pay for college without them, and with all the scholarships that I won, it will pretty much cover all of my tuition," Dickey said.She said she was appreciative of the funding and was not aware of the ECCF before. "I didn't even know that this place existed," she said. JAHS graduate Kiersten Sallack is off to Clarion University to study chemistry and biochemistry. She said although her parents will be helping her with college, she will still be responsible for paying back most of the cost of her education. "It means a lot because I'll be able to buy books and pay for housing," she said. Jess Franco, a new graduate of ECCHS, will be attending Duquesne University to study occupational therapy and psychology. She said the funding she is receiving through ECCF has taken away some of the stress in determining how to pay for her schooling. "It was the most excited I was for a while," Franco said. "It's just me and my mom, so it's really great to get the help and it doesn't make it as nerve-wracking. At first all these thoughts were going through our heads, like how are we going to pay for this and then, once we decided on Duquesne, we said, 'OK, we're just going to do it and hope something happens that we can pay for it,' and it did. That was really great." Pick up a copy of the Saturday, June 9, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.