Scholarship fund helps students while honoring veterans

This is part of a weekly series that highlights the organizations or people behind one of the Foundation’s funds.

After bravely serving their country, Mark Milliron and many other members of American Legion Post 867, in Pleasant Gap, took advantage of the GI Bill or other veterans benefits to attend a college, university or trade school. They know firsthand how important an education is. Other members didn’t have that opportunity, but want to make sure that others do.

“We feel it’s really important that people are able to advance, be better citizens, be more productive and make a bigger contribution to their families and their community,” said Milliron, who serves on American Legion Post 867’s scholarship committee. “One really important way to do that is to get more education. And that’s one of the missions that the American Legion has, to promote educational opportunities for youth.”

So more than a decade ago, American Legion Post 867 began to give out scholarships.

And in 2008, having raised $25,000, largely from memorial contributions made to honor the memory of deceased veterans, the organization endowed the Houtz-Meyers-Rose American Legion Post 867 Scholarship Fund at the Centre County Community Foundation to ensure that those scholarships would exist in perpetuity.

The fund, named for three deceased World War II veterans from Pleasant Gap, provides for three scholarships a year, two of which are chosen by Bellefonte Area School District administrators. One of those is the Spring Township General Excellence Award, which gives $100 to a Bellefonte Area School District student who lives in Spring Township. Another is the Ruth G. Crumlish Memorial Award, named for Bellefonte School District business teacher Ruth Crumlish. Her military veteran son created the scholarship to award $100 to a Bellefonte Area School District business student.

The process for the third scholarship is a bit different. The Philip D. Adams Memorial Scholarship Award, named in honor of the Bellefonte teacher and Legion member who Milliron said got the scholarship committee started, is given out directly by Legion members after having met with the applicants. This scholarship, worth $1,000, is given to a deserving Bellefonte High School senior or a child or grandchild of a member of American Legion Post 867 who is a senior attending another school district.

In the last month, the organization’s scholarship committee conducted interviews with six students and tallied up their scores to pick the recipient. Milliron said they were all outstanding students, so he and the other committee members were left with a tough choice.

“We try to choose a student that’s a good student but who is also contributing to the community and has a need, so that they have an opportunity to go to school,” he said.

Milliron encourages students who are interested in applying for the scholarships in 2012 to talk to their guidance counselors. Applications can be picked up in the Bellefonte High School guidance office or at the Legion’s office, at 435 S. Main St., in Pleasant Gap.

Milliron hopes that in the future the fund will receive more donations and, therefore, be able to give out more scholarships to local students who deserve them.

“I think a nice way people could honor veterans when they pass away is to specify the Houtz-Meyers-Rose American Legion Post 867 Scholarship Fund  for donations in memory of that person,” Milliron said.

-Erin

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