The Sunnyside Ministry Scholarship Program is an important part of the way Sunnyside is changing lives in the Winston-Salem community.
The scholarship program, which began in 1998 with a gift from the Blanche May Vogler Estate, has provided 106 scholarships to students, 96 percent of whom completed their education. Sunnyside Ministry typically awards three or four, four-year scholarships of $1800/year plus a new laptop computer; there are currently 16 scholars in the program.
One of the most important factors the Scholarship Committee considers is the question, “Does this student have a benevolent spirit?” Sunnyside Ministry Scholars have graduated and become social workers and youth directors; current scholars include a future doctor, nurses, social workers and a special education teacher.
Part of the program allows some students to participate in a work experience at Sunnyside Ministry. The program is open to students who live or attend high school in the Sunnyside Ministry service area. Elizabeth Thomas is one of the Class of 2017 scholarship recipients and a participant in the internship program. She shares her experience and thanks for the Sunnyside Ministry Scholarship program:
“I grew up in Forsyth County, where I graduated West Forsyth High School in 2013. I am a first-generation college student and a lifelong member at Friedberg Moravian Church, where generations of my family attended before me.
“I was offered the internship opportunity for the past three summers and, sadly, now my time is coming to an end. This internship is a life-changing experience that I think every young person should go through. It will open your eyes to the way some people in our community live and how much help we can offer people right here in our backyard.
“State and international mission work are wonderful opportunities. I went to Peru after I graduated from high school and it changed the way I look at the world and how people live. But seeing people suffer just as much in your own backyard is a major eye-opener. We have to start local in our communities as well, helping those around us and this internship is a great way to do that.
“I came into my interview for my scholarship at Sunnyside knowing I wanted to attend UNC-Greensboro and pursue a nursing degree. Now I am a graduating in May 2017 from UNC-Greensboro with my degree in human development and family studies with a minor in psychology.
“Through my internship with Sunnyside, I came to realize my passion lies with working with older adults. All the volunteers embraced me so warmly and hearing the stories about clients who are alone in old age just made this passion grow so much stronger inside me. Volunteers and clients helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life. I want to be an advocate of older adults in the later years of their lives, so I will be attending UNC-Greensboro’s Master’s Program for Gerontology in August 2017. I hope to become a director of a hospice/palliative care center for older adults so that they and their families have all the love and support they need in those hard moments.
“Without my internship at Sunnyside, I would have never realized this was my calling in life. The scholarship program is a blessing and I hope it will be a blessing to many more young adults.”
To learn more about the Sunnyside Ministry Scholarship program or internship opportunities, visit sunnysideministries.wordpress.com/scholarship/ or call 336/724-7558.
David Holston is director of Sunnyside Ministries in Winston-Salem, N.C.