Blair distributes scholarships to 28 students

The Blair Scholarship Fund has been helping children of Blair employees with college tuition since 1989.

On Thursday, 28 students received scholarships that added up to $107,000 through the program – about $3,800 per student.

Ten of the recipients – Cassandra Johnson, Alexandria King, Jason Rulander, Trystan Rushia, Tiffany Dyke, Amber Fox, Ernest Pellow, Jenna Still, Taylor Brunecz, and Daniel Dickey – attended a 25th anniversary luncheon in their honor.

The other recipients were Alexa Bupp, Stephanie Burris, Reilly Franklin, Jeremy Main, Travis Peterson, Aaron Wingard, Anthony Burt, Matthew Eernisse, Zacheriah Roberts, Kyle Shorts, Kayla Bailey, Preston McMeans, Amanda Burris, Samantha Conklin, Kristin Johnson, Abel Robinault, Abigail Guiffre, and Joshua Bailey.

“Congratulations to all of you for making that decision to get a college education,” Community Foundation board member Bob Crowley said during the luncheon at the Conewango Club on Thursday. “Now more than ever, a college education is worth it.”

“We want to try to support you in every way that we can,” he said.

He indicated that the students are likely to need some help. “Over 70 percent of this year’s bachelor’s degree recipients owed a significant amount of debt,” Crowley said. The class of 2014 is the most indebted ever and the average student loan debt is $33,000.

Lori Corey, who has worked at Blair for about 35 years, was invited to speak at the luncheon. “The Blair Scholarship Fund has been around for a long time,” she said. “I have two daughters who have benefited from this fund.”

“I can’t say enough about the generosity that was shown to both of my girls,” Corey said. “It’s a wonderful program.”

The fund got its start in 1988 when a vendor offered to contribute to a scholarship program.

That printer gave $25,000 and the company matched that money for a total of $50,000. During the first scholarship year – 1990-1991 – five students received about $390 each – a total of $1,950.

“Today, that $50,000 has grown to $3.3 million,” Crowley said.

He said the Community Foundation does not dip into the principal. The scholarships are issued from the interest to the account. “We want it to grow forever,” he said.

“We invest it for them and they use the income for the scholarships,” Community Foundation Executive Director Charles McKenzie said.

The Blair Scholarship Fund is the largest scholarship fund managed by the Community Foundation.

“The program has been enthusiastically supported by the company, officers, board members, and employees through direct donations, memorial and honorary gifts, as well as gift certificates given as presents, prizes and awards from everything from perfect attendance to winning contests, drawings, and softball and golf tournaments,” Crowley said.

Information about the scholarship and others managed by the Community Foundation is available by visiting www.communityfoundationofwarrencounty.org.