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Altrusa of Salisbury partners with other organizations to turn dreams into reality

By Clara Marts, Scholarship Committee chair

Altrusa of Salisbury is excited to provide eight individuals the opportunity to make their dreams into reality. Our new revised scholarship program focuses on financial need instead of academic merit. We proudly award applicants that are seeking a trade that will make an immediate impact on their lives. We also continue to support them if they need encouragement. Once the winners are decided, we invite them to our dinner meeting to celebrate them for making a choice to work hard, start again a new life, and eventually pay it forward.

Altrusa of Salisbury is continually partnering with organizations, private companies, and non-profit agencies to make a positive difference in our community. During 2014-2015 fiscal year Altrusa of Salisbury awarded a total of three individuals with scholarships that are helping them transform their lives. Our first recipient this year was Ms. Janice Chambers who was referred to the scholarship by our fellow Altrusan Stephanie Bruce with the Salisbury Housing Authority. Ms. Chambers graduated from Rowan Cabarrus Community College this Fall top of her class. This will be a new beginning for Ms. Chambers as she is now a certified nursing assistant. With her new career comes a new way of life.

Amber Guinn was also awarded the Estelle B. Rendlemen Non-Traditional Award. She registered at Rowan Cabarrus Community College to also pursuit a certification as a certified nursing assistant. This scholarship pays for the three month certification program. Miss Guinn is a waitress who faced many challenges. With the support of her family and friends, Miss Guinn decided to apply for the Altrusa scholarship in hopes of starting a new career.

Tania Cuevas is a Mexican born citizen that has worked to make the American dream a reality for her and her son. Ms. Cuevas is one of millions that took advantage of what is referred to as the “Dream Act” law. This status allowed her to receive a social security card that permitted her to attain a driver’s license, work permit, and the ability to study in college or learn a trade. Unfortunately, Ms. Cuevas soon discovered upon receiving her social security card that her dream of going to college would not be possible. Under the law, Ms. Cuevas not only was not entitled to Pell Grant funds, but was required to pay out of state tuition at her community college. This meant that Ms. Cuevas would have to pay approximately $16,000 for a two year associates degree. Her dream was to become a medical professional. And, now those dreams were lost. Determined to become a role model for her son, she took classes to become a certified nursing assistant because that was all that she was able to afford. Ms. Cuevas has been working for the past two years as a homebound CNA.

Ms. Cuevas was introduced to the Family Self Sufficiency program at Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, a local non-profit agency that would help her realize her dreams if she was willing to work hard. To Ms. Cuevas this was another stepping stone to provide her son with what he needed, move out of poverty, and inspire her family to continue to reach for their dreams. She quickly made an impact on her Family Development Specialist Ms. Stephanie Wallace and a relationship developed that would help Ms. Cuevas with developing and achieving her goals. Ms. Wallace referred her to Altrusa of Salisbury for the Margaret H. Cannon International Scholarship. Together with Woodforest Bank of Salisbury, Altrusa was able to award Ms. Cuevas with a scholarship that was applied towards her becoming a certified medical interpreter. This scholarship was supplemented by funds from SRCAA that would allow her to attend all the certification classes this Spring ’15. Both Ms. Chambers and Miss Guinn have successfully completed their education and training and are now certified CNA. Miss Cuevas is now certified medical interpreter.

The scholarship committee has once again awarded scholarships to applicants that applied for Altrusa of Salisbury’s scholarship programs. These applicants were referred to Altrusa by Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency and the Salisbury Housing Authority. In addition to Miss Cuevas, Altrusa awarded five more scholarships. Like Miss Cuevas, Miss Brenda Sanchez and Miss Gloria Jaquez were awarded the Margaret H. Cannon International Scholarship. Both Miss Sanchez and Miss Jaquez graduated from local high schools with more than a 4.0 GPA. Ordinarily, exceptional students such as these would apply for Pell Grants. Their academic merit would give them the opportunity to go to college. For young people such as these, the alternative is to enter the workforce without attaining marketable skills or starting a family that would continue to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. That is not their case. Miss Cueva, Miss Sanchez, and Miss Jaquez represent individuals that believe in the American dream and are working hard to achieve it.

This year’s Estelle B. Rendlemen Non-Traditional Scholarships were given to Mrs. Maria Von Brown, Miss Ciearra Butler and Miss Kiara McGriff. With the support of their families and the local agencies that referred them to the scholarship, each of these ladies are pursuing their dreams to become certified in a trade and earn a college education. Mrs. Brown not only wants to help her husband provide for their family; she wants to be a role model to their children by helping them to understand the importance of an education. Miss Butler has re-evaluated her life goals and reached out to Stephanie Bruce with the Salisbury Housing Authority to help her to get an education and begin a career that would guarantee a better life for her daughter. Miss McGriff was on her way to earning a college education when an embolism caused her to miss school and lose her financial aid. In the meantime, Miss McGriff worked two part time jobs to help her family of 10 pay their bills.

All of the scholarship winners are driven by the pursuit of the American dream. These ladies are working hard to overcome the barriers in their lives and Altrusa of Salisbury is honored to be part of their journey.

As a community, we must come together to help break the cycle of poverty. All of the scholarship winners are dedicated individuals that deserve an opportunity to find employment and learn the differences between a job and a career. Altrusa of Salisbury offers their scholarships to all individuals that have a desire to improve their lives regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or disability.

If you would like to know how to help Altrusa of Salisbury with its scholarship program or if you are willing to employ any of our scholarship winners, please contact Clara Marts at cimarts@fibrant.com

To look at the other charitable projects that Altrusa of Salisbury is doing, please check out our Facebook page at Altrusa of Salisbury, our Twitter and follow us on Instagram.

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