Today, May 30, is a very special day for Stanwood and Camano Island, a day that many high school seniors will remember for the rest of their lives. On par with graduation, tonight is Scholarship Night.
For over 60 years, the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation has coordinated the community’s support of our student’s dreams. For six of those years, it was my privilege as the SCAF executive director to help with this coordination and have a window into the motivations of our generous donors, the incredibly hard work of all of the thoughtful scholarship committees, the dedication of our amazing community organizations and businesses and the inspiring dreams of many of our students.
SCAF’s scholarship donors come in all shapes and sizes – from a daughter memorializing a treasured parent to a community organization continuing its ongoing community legacy— awards of $500 to $10,000 —from here in Stanwood-Camano to the other side of the country.
The SCAF scholarship committee and indeed all scholarship committees of SCAF’s partnering donors, consider this duty a high point of their year. Hours and hours are spent reviewing applications, carefully matching just the right scholarship with just the right student.
Days and months of fundraising go into generating the funds for these scholarship gifts to our students. Family legacies are created just for the purpose of ensuring that these scholarships will continue to support students – forever. Indeed, our community is blessed with one of the largest – if not THE largest – scholarship programs in the entire state.
This year, our son has his Scholarship Night invitation pinned to our family calendar. The application process starts in the dark days of February, before the sun is shining, before the days are warm and many seniors have contracted “senioritis.” When the Scholarship Night invitation comes in May, it is a blessed reminder that, while the sun is indeed shining and “freedom” is just on the horizon, these students’ future is also just around the corner.
And what a future! Tonight, many of our students will experience the love and support of their community firsthand. Whether they are heading off to university, community college or vocational training, our community is there for them. They will carry a little piece of Stanwood-Camano on their future journey – along with the memory that a community organization, a local business, or a family they don’t even know believes in them and wants them to succeed.
Our older son was fortunate to receive a community scholarship and he has never forgotten it. In fact, many former scholarship recipients now are proud to be scholarship donors. This formidable creation of bonds between student and donors, between past and present and future strengthens the fabric of our community in countless ways.
On behalf of all of the parents and guardians of those seniors whose lives are about to be changed this evening, I say THANK YOU to SCAF, to Executive Director Bev Pronishan, to the SCAF Board of Directors, to all of our community donors and to the amazing families and volunteers who have worked throughout the year to make this dream-fulfilling evening possible.