Seamen’s Society awards scholarships to youth looking to improve their lives

24th annual scholarship program provides $27,000 to 18 students

Seamen’s Society for Children and Families awarded 18 scholarships totaling $27,000 to foster youth and youth receiving services who are striving to improve their lives by obtaining a college or vocational school education. During a virtual celebration event on June 29, attendees heard from one alumna and two students about their experiences. 

This year’s scholarship recipients will be attending 16 different colleges in the Fall (including: Drew University, Medgar Evers College, John Jay College, Boston College, Pace University, University at Buffalo, American Academy/McCallister Institute of Funeral Service, the College of Staten Island, SUNY Fredonia, and SUNY Oneonta).  

Their majors range from liberal arts to cartooning/illustration to mechanical engineering to sociology, to human services, to psychology, to nursing, to liberal arts.

Seamen’s Society President and CEO David Gaskin congratulated all of the students on their accomplishments and thanked all of the donors for their generous support. “I want to applaud the students for successfully completing a difficult year due to the pandemic. From what I heard from our team, and read in your application essays, you all have shown great tenacity and resilience under, sometimes, challenging circumstances. We are proud of all of you!” he said. “I also would like to thank our generous donors, without whom these scholarships would not be possible. 

College Specialist Eileen Bruno said, in her role as part of Seamen’s Society’s Youth Encouraged to Succeed (YES!) Program, she makes it her mission to “know the college students, speak to them about the importance of education, and make them aware of the valuable resources they are entitled to. We assist the youth with college or vocational school research and applications, essays, financial aid and scholarship assistance, and more. For all of our students, we work to make sure the school is the right fit.  

“The pandemic was a difficult time for everyone, but especially for our college students,” she continued. “Many of them had to leave their campus and return to their family or to their foster homes, or they had to relocate to different campuses or buildings. I was stressed for them and maintained weekly communications with each of them to let them know we cared and were here for them.”

The alumna who spoke (name withheld for privacy) recently graduated with a degree in education and is now a teacher. She said, “College was not easy. I would never want to downplay the experience of going through school while dealing with the trials and, at times, the trauma, that arises from dealing with the foster care system.” She encouraged current students to find time to take care of themselves, and her hope is that “we all can heal from what we have experienced to not only be OK enough to survive, but to thrive.”

Donors who provided named scholarships this year include:  Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Community Care Rx, BDO USA Ltd., Lawrell Arnold, Lisa and Lee Stephens III, Albert R. Cauz and Dr. Bridget K. McCabe and family, the South Shore Kiwanis Foundation, Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (FAPA) Brooklyn, the Seamen’s Society Board of Trustees, Dr. Leslie and Louise Petosa, Lynne C. Persing, Suzanne and Paul Ainslie, and the Staten Island Foundation.

Started 24 years ago, the organization’s scholarship program helps young adults from Staten Island and Brooklyn defray the costs associated with going to college/vocational school. To date, our donors have invested more than $300,000 in the education of our young adults and 58 of them have completed their education.

Founded in 1846, Seamen’s Society for Children and Families has always had the welfare of vulnerable children and their families at the forefront of its mission, which is to provide the highest quality services in the community to strengthen and preserve families, so that children and adults have the opportunity to realize their full potential. Today, on Staten Island and in Brownsville, Brooklyn, the agency accomplishes its mission by serving 1,250+ children and 500+ families through its programs and services, which include foster care, adoption, family support services, health and wellness services, health home care management services, domestic/intimate partner violence services, after-school tutoring, and college/vocational scholarships.

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