How many times have you heard “the future is in the hands of our young people”? Then isn’t it up to us to give those young people a helping hand?
Well, there are two local foundations that are doing just that: St. Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation (SEHF) and the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Madison County’s It Starts Here Foundation (ISH) have joined forces with a mission statement that reads they will be “providing a resource for the people, businesses and the communities of Southwestern Madison County, to foster the growth of a sustainable economy that will strengthen the community and to identify and address the unmet health care needs of the people in Granite City, Madison, Venice, Pontoon Beach and Mitchell, Ill., by, among other things, sponsoring medical science scholarships, educating the populations through programs and activities, all in order to (1) promote pride in the SW Madison County Area, the health and welfare of its residents, and the restoration of its private and public facilities and (2) to improve the quality of life and unlock the potential of the people of Southwestern Madison County to build and sustain healthy communities.”
SEHF, a nonprofit organization, has elected to become a supporting organization to ISHF in order to specifically address “sponsoring medical science scholarships, educating the populations through programs and activities, all in order to (1) promote pride in the SW Madison County Area, the health and welfare of its residents” by offering medical scholarships to people in Madison County.
The scholarship applications go through an impartial third-party management service that is a division of Scholarship America. This program uses standard Scholarship America recipient selection procedures, including the consideration of academic performance, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, work experience, a statement of career and educational goals and objectives, unusual personal or family circumstances and an outside appraisal. The statement of their goals include questions asking how the student plans to give back to the community following completion of his or her degree.
The board awarded four scholarships in 2013 to recipients, all of whom are from Madison County.
• Stephanie Swanson will graduate with a degree in health care administration from SIUE. This is the second year Stephanie received this scholarship.
“I greatly appreciate everything that SEHF has done for me,” Swanson said. “Helping me get through my graduate career at SIUE was a blessing. Thank you so much to all staff and officials of SEHF and others for helping fulfill another life goal of (almost) achieving my master’s degree. Thanks again!”
• Sarah Cook is a pharmacist student at SIUE.
• John Heafner is a medical student at Saint Louis University.
• Samuel Richey is a medical student at Saint Louis University; this is the second year Richey has received this scholarship.
• Emily Robson will graduate this year as a nurse anesthetist from SIUE.
• Catherine Vogel is a physical therapy student at Saint Louis University.
• Amanda White will graduate from SIUE as a family nurse practitioner.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to receive this scholarship,” White said. “Without it, I would not have been able to attend school. This is as great opportunity for residents of Madison County to further their education. Again, thank you so very much.”
The two foundations also have established the Congressman Jerry Costello Scholarship, which includes Madison County but also reaches into the St. Clair County area for recipients. This scholarship was made possible through the funds raised at the 2012 event An Evening with Congressman Jerry Costello, presented by the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Madison County.
For the second year, the 2014 recipient of the Jerry Costello Scholarship is Molly Etling, a young woman from Freeburg in St. Clair County. Molly will graduate from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; she will be practicing medicine in Southern Illinois.
The total award in 2014 for the eight students was $53,000.
The SEHF adopted the recommendation of the scholarship review committee that all scholarships will now be open to residents of both Madison and St. Clair counties starting in 2014. There will be just one call for applications, including the Jerry Costello award.
The ISH Foundation also put into action a program that drastically changed the appearance of Route 3. This route was chosen not only for the high traffic count but also because it serves as an entrance to three of our cities, as well as two entryways into the state of Illinois. One now has a park with a welcoming sculpture, “Salute to Steel,” in place of mounds of debris and an area that was used as a dump at the McKinley Bridge entrance into Illinois. This transformation cost in excess of $500,000.
However, this was more than a beautification program; it was a transformation of a very highly traveled industrial transportation route, running the full seven and a half miles from Chain of Rocks Road at Interstate 270 to the McKinley Bridge entrance. In that designated area there are 11 intersections, each of the four corners has a beautiful 30 x 10 raised flower bed containing 300 to 500 bulbs, grasses, evergreens and annuals, plus the planting of 750 trees along the route by IDOT. This was all done at a cost of about $60,000 of private money.
The ISHF is preparing to roll out its fourth Leadership Program that will focus on 30 young people who are hourly employees who have the potential of becoming leaders within their organizations. The goal of this program is to help develop basic soft, technical and business-related competencies necessary to help these people succeed.
In this ever-changing, competitive business environment, the goal of this program is to grow future leaders by developing those that have the capacity, the drive and the desire to accomplish and contribute more.
The community is welcome to join us in our endeavors; we accept a variety of “Gifts in Honor” of recognizing a friend’s birthday, memorials to a loved one, a celebration or a special occasion with a gift to the foundations. The honored individual will receive a personal note acknowledging the gift. You can direct your support to a specific area, such as health field scholarships, the community beautification programs or the leadership programs. The foundations are a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; this makes your gifts tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.