For Steve and Kathi Morency, it began with the very small action of picking up a book, White Oleander, by Janet Fitch. At the time, Kathi had no idea how this simple act would change the lives of her family, and the lives of so many students who have started life under challenging circumstances.
White Oleander describes the traumatic experiences of a young woman growing up in a series of foster homes. After reading the book, Kathi felt a strong sense of compassion for underprivileged kids who are thrust into very unfortunate situations.
She and her husband, Steve, became concerned about 18-year-olds who, as a result of being of age and being released from the foster care system, would not be able to support themselves. The pressure to survive often dooms any opportunities to attend college.
The Morencys turned to the Community Foundation. They established two scholarships, one on each side of the river, for students coming out of foster care. "The Foundation ensures that our dollars are used as efficiently as possible," says Steve.
In the past four years, 11 scholarships have been awarded to area students. Steve and Kathi have witnessed the positive impact. Jasmine Fountain is one of the scholarship recipients. She's a senior at St. Ambrose University and is on the Dean's List. She grew up in foster care and is now expecting to graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, due in large part to the Morency Foster Youth Scholarship. Jasmine plans to attend law school.
After the scholarships were established, Kathi and Steve found other ways to help underprivileged kids. Steve became involved with Achieve Quad Cities, a local partnership to increase high school graduation rates. Driven by his passion for helping youth, Steve volunteered M.A. Ford, the manufacturing plant where he is President/CEO, as a host site for school visits. His goal is to show students the value of education.
Connecting people like Steve and Kathi with causes that matter is the Community Foundation's mission.
Click here to apply for the Morency Family Scholarship.