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Rooted in friendship

Scholars’ Fund so much more than tuition assistance

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October 13th, 2017
(From left) Marianne Nolan and Charlotte Radcliffe chat with Moriah White, a former student server who received two college scholarships from Ann’s Choice this June.

(From left) Marianne Nolan and Charlotte Radcliffe chat with Moriah White, a former student server who received two college scholarships from Ann’s Choice this June. 

 

At Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., neighbors form friendships with one another and with the high school students who take their orders and serve their meals in the community’s five restaurants.

Those resident-student relationships are the reason the community’s Scholars’ Fund is so successful. Funded by Ann’s Choice residents, it provides scholarships for graduating seniors employed in the community’s restaurants. 

Intergenerational relationships

At its annual Scholars Awards ceremony this June, Ann’s Choice awarded each of 46 graduating high school seniors with an $8,000 scholarship. Nine of those seniors also received donor-designated named scholarships totaling $36,500. 

To qualify, students must meet certain requirements, including working 1,000 hours at Ann’s Choice during their junior and senior years, maintaining satisfactory grades, building positive relationships with community members, and maintaining a strong employment record. 

They also must request a nomination letter from a community member. 

“So this is truly about the students and the residents,” says Philanthropy Manager Robin Kaufold, who oversees the program. “It attracts some of the best-of-the-best students in the area, and it helps build those intergenerational relationships.” 

Relationships grow as Ann’s Choice neighbors express genuine interest in what the kids are doing, what their passions are, and what they hope to become. When residents share stories of their own careers, some students decide to follow that same path.

Student servers who start working at age 14 or 15 can be awkward and uncomfortable around older adults. 

“It’s amazing how working here grooms them for their next position in life, regardless of what that might be,” Kaufold says. “When they graduate, you wonder if you were as articulate at their age.” 

The residents’ perspective

Since 2012, when she moved from Horsham to Ann’s Choice, Charlotte Radcliffe has written nomination letters.

“These are wonderful kids; they’re caring, understanding, and so interested in becoming something more,” she says. “Education is the tool they need to be the best they can be.”

Charlotte writes letters based on students’ personalities: “What do they want to do with their lives? What are they passionate about? If they show passion and an interest, I can write a letter.”

Retired teacher and former Lower Morland resident Marianne Nolan is on the committee that interviews students who apply for named scholarships. 

Moriah White, from nearby Warminster, applied for the Helen E. Slemmer Memorial Scholarship of $5,000 a year for up to four years. The committee chooses a student who wants to make a difference in people’s lives. 

“Moriah was very active in school,” says Marianne. “She belonged to all kinds of science groups, had been president of different clubs, had taken all AP courses, and had a really high grade point average. She looked to me like the best candidate.” 

And indeed, White received the Slemmer Scholarship.

She now attends Boston University and studies biomedical engineering, which applies extensive knowledge of modern biological principles to the engineering design process. Think pacemakers or prosthetics. Her career could focus on researching and designing the next generation of customized medical devices.

Boston University awarded her a scholarship of $50,000 a year for four years, and she’s also saved money for her education. But her tuition and housing will cost about $70,000 this year. 

“It’s unrealistic for my parents to help shoulder that load,” White says. “They don’t have that kind of money.” She’s on a work/study program at the university but still expects to take out some loans.

White and her parents are thrilled about her Ann’s Choice scholarships. She had no idea the program existed when she applied for work. 

“I needed a job, and Ann’s Choice hired me,” White says. “It’s such a good place to be, and the residents are always so positive. Ann’s Choice was my first job, and I never wanted another.”

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