June 26, 2020, Tacoma, Wash. — This year marks the 20th anniversary of the annual Willie Stewart Community Service Scholarship. From the very beginning, United Way of Pierce County has supported this scholarship program to recognize a select number of Pierce County high school seniors who demonstrate a tireless commitment to volunteering in their community.
This year’s cohort of 11 recipients hail from high schools across the county, including Sumner High School, Graham Kapowsin High School, Bellarmine Prep, Eatonville High School and Emerald Ridge High School. Recipients completed at least 100 hours of documented community service in the 2019-2020 school year, composed a 500-word essay and obtained a letter of recommendation, among other requirements. These 10 students performed nearly 5,500 combined hours of community service. Two students completed over 1000 hours on their own!
United Way and local leader Willie Stewart granted $5,000 to each scholarship recipient. Recipients will use their awards to help pay tuition at colleges and universities across the country. On behalf of the entire community, United Way congratulates the following students for their dedication to giving back through volunteerism: Michael Anderson, Yasmin Aref, Amelia Day, Hannah DeHut, Jeremy Gries, Loraine Ignao, Adeline Rang, Miyamora Rosenthal, Jolee Thirtyacre and Megan Wesenburg.
United Way has partnered Willie Stewart for all 20 years of the scholarship’s existence to celebrate the Pierce County high school seniors most dedicated to community service. Stewart and his good friend Karl Anderson started the program after Stewart ran for the Tacoma School Board in 1999. Anderson was his campaign treasurer. When the successful campaign was over, they had funds leftover, and Anderson suggested they be used to start a scholarship program for young volunteers in the community. Stewart wanted a large, recognizable organization to oversee program’s administration, so he took the idea to United Way’s CEO at the time, Rick Allen. Allen loved the idea. In 2000, the program honored its first cohort of seniors.
The first ever virtual Scholarship event paid tribute to Karl, who recently passed away. In addition to Willie, Rick Allen and CR Roberts shared memories of Karl. His wife Christine Anderson and daughter, Rebecca Fountain also attended the event.
As an educator, a veteran and a community leader, Stewart continues to be an inspiration for generations of Pierce County students. “The future of this nation is going to be based on volunteerism,” Stewart says. “We need more people born with heart and compassion. The only way we’re going to get out of the situation we’re in is with love and respect and getting involved. Community service is the first step.”
About United Way of Pierce County
United Way of Pierce County has served our community since 1921. Our history is rooted in partnerships—bringing people from different walks of life together to improve conditions for children, families and individuals. While that will never change, our role as a community fundraiser has shifted as the United Way movement has sharpened our focus to solve critical community issues that prevent people from meeting their full potential. Today we are leading change by breaking the cycle of poverty in Pierce County. UNITED, WE WILL LIFT 15,000 FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY BY 2028. Learn more at https://www.uwpc.org/