The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, our 501(c)3 nonprofit, was chosen by the 100 Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery County to receive a monetary contribution which will have a significant impact for the community. The 100 Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery seeks to address a charitable need in our local community and to collectively use our individual resources to make a monetary contribution that will make a significant impact to the charity. See www.lowermocowwc.com.
A special thank you goes to Theresa Wells and Tonia Harries for their presentations. We also thank Margaret Magill, WWC member who invited us to speak, and WWC’s President, Linda Mathuran.
BSAP would also like to thank all of the contributors of Women Who Care. Please see our thank you letter to WWC.
Theresa Wells – Presentation to WWC
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight on behalf of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program. I appreciate that each of you are here tonight because you believe in the value of giving back and providing opportunities to others.
The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program was started in 1995 when Bernie Tetreault retired after 24 years of service as Executive Director of Montgomery County’s public housing agency, Housing Opportunities Commission. Our organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit AS a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Since its inception, the Bernie Scholarship has provided over 500 scholarships and a total of $625,200 to deserving students.
· Our goal this year is to award 65 or more, if we have even more eligible applicants, awardees $1,500 each, which means we’ll need to raise at least $97,500.
· Our scholarship applicants are low-income residents of subsidized rental housing in Montgomery County; they are graduating high school seniors & other adults 18 & older, and some are Dreamers. 98% pursue college degrees, 2% vocational certificate training. We are most proud of our awardees, because 98% have completed a college degree or are continuing their studies!
· This year, we have over 85 applications.
I would like to underscore the impact of each of these awards to the recipient. Without these funds, these students would be unable to further their education. Our assistance may alter the path of the life of a student. As an organization, we are committed to the success of our awardees, we provide mentoring/coaching and follow them through their educational journey.
I joined this nonprofit as a Board member this year. Last summer, I began my search for a personal connection to a charitable organization that I could serve. I am from a blue-collar community in western Maryland. I grew up in Cumberland as a daughter of a tire factory worker. My parents instilled in me from a very early age the importance of a college education and motivated me daily to do the absolute best I could in school so that I could have career opportunities that they did not. My parents wanted more than anything for my sister and I to be the first college graduates in our extended family.
Because money was short, I looked to scholarships and grants to enable me to go to WVU to study engineering. Without this assistance, attending college may not have been possible. This is why I identify so closely to this foundation. In a way, I feel like I am paying it forward.
My college education provided a life changing foundation. In 1987, I moved to the DC area, and have worked in finance and telecommunications positions, but I always gravitated toward healthcare information systems and policy. After 30 years, I currently have my dream position as a project manager on FDA key policy initiatives for the Office of the Commissioner. The projects that I work on such as opioid abuse and teen vaping are critical to public health.
I hope that you can see in me an example of what your contribution can do. It can be life changing. Education can be the key to lifting a person from public assistance to self-sustainment. This self-sustainment for me has meant that I was able to raise my 4 daughters with goals of their own.
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you the Bernie mission and my personal story. I know firsthand how important it is to put together the motivation, finances and external support to ensure student success. It is our hope that we will be able to count on your support so that we can provide this to deserving students in Montgomery County.