Melody Watkins never thought her volunteerism would help her get to university.
But thanks to the South Cariboo Community Enhancement Foundation (SCCEF), she took her first course at the University of Northern BC this fall. The SCCEF awarded Watkins a $1,000 bursary for volunteerism when she graduated from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary in June.
“It meant for me that I was able to pursue something that I wanted for a long time,” said Watkins, 18. “It gave me the opportunity to go to university without putting myself in a place of serious financial hardship.”
Watkins was the first recipient of the bursary, created in 2021 to support students who demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the community through volunteerism or career direction. The SCCEF has just put out a request for nominations for the 2022-2023 year.
Barb Brown, a director with the foundation, said they’re always looking to award PSO students who have shown community spirit. One of the goals of the bursary is to make students feel rewarded or acknowledged for giving back, and perhaps lead them to become an ambassador to other groups or students.
“This is an important thing,” Brown said. “I mean, it’s a struggle to get volunteers now. There are so many non-profit organizations out there working really hard and struggling with volunteers. And if we have some money that can help them along? It’s important.”
The SCCEF exists to accept and distribute charitable contributions that will promote the betterment of the South Cariboo and enhance the quality of life for its citizens.
The foundation only received four or five applications in the first year and hopes to see the numbers increase. Brown said they may even be able to sponsor more students in years to come.
Watkins encouraged other students to apply, noting the SCCEF has given people like her a chance to pursue post-secondary education.
“I think they’re extremely important with what they’re doing and helping the younger generation – that kind of ties back to volunteering. In a way, it’s like helping someone else build their life.”