Every Community Foundation Scholarship Has A Story To Tell

ECCF: 20 Years: celebrating our past ~ inspiring our future

This is the 5th in a series of articles on the Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) during its 20th anniversary year, highlighting its history and impact in the community

St. Marys, PA

The Elk County Community Foundation (ECCF) scholarship program has a favorite saying: “Educational Support Can Change a Life.” The over 100 scholarships administered by ECCF were created by community-minded individuals, families, and corporations who want to provide a path to higher education for future generations. These scholarships have helped thousands of Elk County students pursue their college dream and start them on their journey toward a successful and fulfilling career. Every scholarship has a story to tell.

Shane Schneider was one of our local scholarship recipients who received the Helene L. Bowley scholarship upon graduation from SMAHS in 2006. Helene Bowley was a dedicated lifelong resident of Ridgway and the owner of the local Helene’s Ready-to-Wear Shop. She felt it important to give back to the community by investing in the future of our young residents through scholarships that help them reach their education goals. With the help of this scholarship, Shane went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State Behrend in 2010.

Just like Helene, Shane is committed to giving back to his community. After college graduation he worked for a few years in Philipsburg, PA then returned home to St. Marys. Shane now lives in St. Marys with his wife, Leah Kneidel Schneider. For the past 10 years Shane has utilized his engineering degree while working at GE Thermometrics, now known as Amphenol. Shane stated, “I always knew St. Marys was home. I am a family oriented, outdoors type of guy and enjoy the kind of life we have here.”

That community-oriented attitude still shows in Shane through his interest in local activities, and his involvement in the St. Hubert’s Committee at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Now the current president, Shane describes the group as offering “a different way for people of all ages to be involved with the church community”. St. Hubert’s gets church members involved with outdoor related activities, sponsoring hikes, kayaking trips, and an annual sauerkraut fundraising dinner. The committee plants, harvests and makes their own sauerkraut for the dinner which usually attracts several hundred people. Another project currently underway, but halted for the time being due to Covid-19, is the building of your own fishing pole, with kits being supplied to all participants by the committee.

Every donor who establishes a scholarship fund has a story to tell, and every scholarship given out by that fund writes a story of its own. With many former scholarship recipients just like Shane investing their time and talents in the place they call home, the goodwill shared by the donors comes full circle to make our communities a better place in which to live, work and learn.

The Community Foundation makes it easy for individuals, businesses, and organizations to establish a scholarship fund. Donors find that creating a scholarship fund through the Foundation is simple, convenient, and cost-effective, and much more affordable than you might think. A fund can be created in as little as one meeting, with a short fund agreement, and a single gift. Or a fund can be set up with an initial gift that is added to in the future. The Foundations manages all the administrative details of funds for the donors.

Since 2000, the Elk County Community Foundation has worked with donors to establish 103 funds and has awarded over $1.76 million in scholarships to deserving high school seniors and adult learners. By establishing a uniquely-named scholarship, a donor has the ability to designate eligibility requirements including education level, the field of study, geographic area, etc. Many scholarships are established to honor parents, a family member, or someone who influenced your life. Most scholarship funds at the Foundation are permanent endowments, with the annual earnings used to provide the scholarships.

For more information on scholarships contact the Elk County Community Foundation at 814-834-2125 or visit their website at www.elkcountyfoundation.org.

Photo: The Helene L. Bowley scholarship was established in 2003, in the early years of the Elk County Community Foundation. She felt it important to give back to the community by investing in the future of our young residents through scholarships that help them reach their education goals. Shane Schneider was the recipient of this scholarship in 2006, and just like Helene, is committed to giving back to his community.