Students receive a helping hand

WHEELING – H. Lawrence Jones issued a few challenges Friday to area students whose college funds will receive a boost thanks to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley: Remember those who shaped who you are, do something – and most importantly, pay it forward.

The foundation held its annual scholarship luncheon Friday at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge, recognizing 114 students from 23 area schools who received a combined total of more than $171,000 in scholarship funds administered by the foundation this year.

Jones, head of the Community Foundation’s scholarship committee and a former superintendent of Ohio County Schools, urged the students to remember they are the product of good parenting and good teaching, and embrace the choices adulthood will bring – as well as the responsibilities that come with them.

And he told them not to let the fear of taking the wrong path prevent them from giving all they have to achieve their goals. One’s course is not etched in stone at age 17, he said.

“As mature 19-year-olds, you will have the opportunity to correct your aim. … As much more mature 50-, 60- and 70-year-olds, we are still correcting our aim,” Jones said.

Scholarship donors, Jones noted, easily could have chosen to spend their money on a nicer car or a bigger house. He said the best way to thank them is to remember that, and be just as generous when the students are in the position to do so.

“You do it by giving forward,” Jones said. “You live a life that honors their sacrifices.”

Community Foundation Executive Director Susie Nelson said the luncheon is something foundation members look forward to each year, for a number of reasons. One of the most important, she said, is the event gives students the chance to interact with scholarship donors and makes those people more than a name on a brochure in their high school’s guidance office.

“Not all of them do interviews during the selection process. … This is something that personalizes it not only for the donors, but also the students,” Nelson said.

Community Foundation scholarships this year ranged in value from $250 to $5,700. Some are awarded for students pursuing a particular area of study, such as engineering, business, nursing, education, or music, while others are specific to a student’s high school or chosen college.