WHEELING - Donors to the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley contributed more than $170,000 this year to help provide college education opportunities for local students, and on Wednesday recipients got to meet and thank their benefactors.
The Community Foundation administers a total of 59 scholarship funds, and this year it distributed a total of $170,771 in scholarships to more than 100 students, according to Executive Director Susie Nelson. The group hosted its annual scholarship luncheon Wednesday at Oglebay Park's Wilson Lodge honoring the students and donors.
Local businessman Bob Robinson addressed the gathering and said just before starting college at West Virginia University he was shocked to receive a scholarship check in the mail from a unnamed woman from outside the area he didn't know to assist with expenses.
"I didn't know why I received this money," he said. "But it was the money that kept me during that first semester in Morgantown. I was a fish out of water. That money enabled me to get involved and participate in the university. That money opened my world. It changed me for a lifetime."
He met his wife Ann while at WVU, and later he would learn her father in Maryland had received a check from the same donor that enabled him to complete undergraduate work and go on to dental school.
"This lady doesn't know what effect she had," he said. "I think sometimes donors don't know the rest of the story. She helped two people, and now there are 16 college graduates (in their family) with masters or doctorate degrees just from those two people.
"What donors really like is when you conquer the world, you do what they do and reach back and help that next generation move forward."
Former Ohio County Schools Superintendent Larry Jones, chairman of the Community Foundation's Scholarship Committee, told the recipients they shouldn't question why they are being awarded money for college.
"Some of you are wondering how and why you got a scholarship," he said. "A scholarship committee picked you - that's how. And we have an elaborate and sophisticated process of doing that.
"I want you to know you earned that scholarship you received."
The keynote speaker was local educator and software developer Jeanne Finstein, who told the students she started out using a slide rule as a math major in the late 1960s, progressed on to a calculator and never dreamed then computers would be so prevalent in society.
"My point in this trip down memory lane is that you might still be in the work force 50 years from now," Finstein said. "You cannot afford to remain stagnant from where you are now, or where you will be when you get out of college. If so, you'll be using the equivalent of a slide rule."