Donors, scholarship recipients share meal

SHARON, Pa. – One was given in the name of a 17-year-old girl who died in a car accident. Another was given in honor of a cancer survivor, to help those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

One was issued to warn of the dangers of smoking after a dear one succumbed to lung cancer. Another was given to honor a firefighter who fell while attempting to save lives during the tragedy of 9/11.

Some were dedicated to military service members who sacrificed their lives in service of our country, and others were given in memory of loved ones who held love for music, bowling, golfing or other interests close to their hearts.

All of these stories were celebrated and shared by scholarship donors and their recipients Thursday during the sixth-annual Community Foundation Scholarship Luncheon held at the Corinthian Banquet Hall in Sharon, Pa.

“Every year, we celebrate all of the students who have received scholarships through our foundation and the funds that we support,” said Sandra Anderson-Baker, Community Foundation scholarship coordinator. “We sit the scholarship winner with the actual donor so that they can get to meet and talk to each other. It’s important that these students understand why these people are giving the money.”

Anderson-Baker had a story of her own to share, at times holding back tears as she described the reason she decided to become a scholarship donor.

“What you’re doing is so inspiring to me,” she said to the crowd of about 150 people. She introduced the first recipient of the award, the KML Anderson Family Fund, which was created in memory of her late father, a local singer who had loved to golf; her mother, a person who believed in public service; and her sister, who overcame mental challenges and served for many years as a teachers aid.

The Community Foundation recently completed its scholarship year, and expects to award more than $300,000 in scholarships the next academic year. Anderson-Baker said there are nearly 300 scholarship funds, each with their own individual donor and fund.

The luncheon included the Trumbull County Community Foundation; Northern Trumbull County Community Foundation; Shenango Valley Foundation; Northern Mercer County Foundation; Lawrence Community Foundation and Grove City Foundation and featured words of encouragement from Sharon Schools superintendent John Sarandrea.

“At 211 degrees, water is simply hot, but at 212 degrees, water boils, and boiling water produces steam. Steam can power a locomotive engine. That one degree makes all the difference.

”You’re the best of the best, but you’re just one small part of the world. Putting forth that extra degree in every task that you complete. It’s the seemingly small things that can make the biggest difference,” he said, also citing an excerpt from a Nelson Mandela quote.

“You’re not just going to have lunch together. These people are investing in your life. You’re not just a student any more (to them),” said Community Foundation executive director Lawrence Haynes.

Brookfield High School graduate and valedictorian Nicole Tatomirovich, 18, met and dined with her scholarship donors, Columbian Home Corp. of Masury president Richard Hobart and secretary Ted Ferrara. The corporation chose Tatomirovich as this year’s recipient for its $1,000 Community Foundation Scholarship.

“We look for academic performance, community involvement, school involvement. We look for folks who are active,” Ferrara said.

The Columbian Home Corp. has been issuing scholarships for the past decade and hopes to increase the amount of their scholarships in the future, he said. “We get information from the school on possible candidates, along with the school’s advice,” but the committee makes the final decision, he said.

Tatomirovich plans on attending the University of Akron, but Ferrara said the company doesn’t specify that the recipient has to attend a college, but rather any post-secondary program.

Tatomirovich said she will major in biology, with the goal of becoming a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. She said she discovered she loved children and wanted to work with them during her involvement in a teen outreach program at Brookfield High School, where she was able to work at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Tatomirovich said she enjoyed the opportunity to dine with those who issued her scholarship.

“I think it’s nice to know that there are people behind scholarships and it’s not just groups,” she said.

“We had a great conversation together. I think she’s going to go far,” Hobart said.

Ferrara also shared some parting words of advice for Tatomirovich: When she’s away at school and finds she needs something to lift her spirits, he encouraged her to read the poetry of Edgar A. Guest.

“Just open the book and read one of his poems. They’re excellent; they’re about common folks in common situations,” he said.

Ferrara, a collector of Guest’s works, reads his poems from time to time, finding them helpful and uplifting.

“She is pre-med; that’s a long haul,” he said.

bhazen@tribtoday.com