During November 12-18, Your Community Foundation, Inc. (YCF) and more than 780 other community foundations across the country will celebrate Community Foundation Week. This week provides foundations with an opportunity to share and reflect on stories of local philanthropists and how their contributions impact the community.
“As we prepare to celebrate Community Foundation Week, Your Community Foundation thanks our donors for their generosity and investment in north central West Virginia. One fund that we would like to highlight this week is the Dr. Leo Kotchek Memorial Scholarship Fund, which was opened in 2005,” said Patty Showers Ryan, YCF President.
This scholarship fund was established in memory of Dr. Leo Kotchek, who practiced as a country veterinarian in Preston County, 1943 – 2003. Dr. Kotchek’s own veterinary career would not have been possible without scholarships, so this scholarship is a fitting tribute and memorial to him.
The Dr. Leo Kotchek Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by Cynthia Geary, her sister Patricia Kotchek and their mother Lillian, who is now deceased. The scholarship is intended to help support the undergraduate college education of a graduating Preston High School senior who intends to study veterinary medicine and practice as a veterinarian in West Virginia.
“Immediately after my father died, we contacted the Preston High School and spoke with Mark Bjorkman, one of the guidance counselors. We asked questions about setting up a scholarship in memory of my father. Mark told us that most scholarships started by Preston County people were held at a bank or at the Greater Morgantown Community Trust (now Your Community Foundation, Inc.). We spoke with people we knew who were familiar with the Foundation, and, after hearing good things, we decided to investigate further,” said Cynthia Geary.
After speaking with the Trust’s executive director, Paula Martinelli, Cynthia, her sister and their mother, decided that the Trust met their needs and the scholarship fund was established. Through the years, both Cynthia and her sister Patricia have been very happy with YCF and the way that they have handled their scholarship fund.
This story—alongside the countless others like it—demonstrates the tremendous impact and unique importance of community foundations in this country. Though you may not yet know your local community foundation, you’ve likely felt its impact. A gift to your local community foundation is an investment in the future of your community. The funds will go to work immediately supporting vital services, but they will also provide sustained support for years to come.