Working as a server in Linden Ponds' on-site restaurants is an ideal job for local high school students. The part-time jobs provide youngsters with a way to earn money while still keeping up with their studies, and they have the unique opportunity to form friendships with the retirees who live at Linden Ponds.
One of the most exciting perks of the job is the potential to earn a scholarship for higher education through the Linden Ponds Scholars' Fund, which is funded by donations from community members. To date, student employees have received more than $1 million in scholarships to attend universities and accredited trade schools.
The gift of education
To be eligible for the scholarships, students need to have worked at Linden Ponds during their junior and senior years and have put in 800 hours on the job. The selected students receive $5,000 scholarships, which are dispersed to their schools over the course of four years.
"Thirty students are eligible for the scholarship this year," says Mairi Bleakie, philanthropy manager at Linden Ponds. "It's a wonderful benefit for students working at Linden Ponds."
To help raise money for the Scholars' Fund, students host "scholarship week" each year. They put on a variety of events, including a spelling bee, car wash, bingo game, and fashion show.
"Most of the events are free, so we hope to raise money by donations, not ticket sales," Bleakie says. "The students work hard to make this week come together, and the residents love coming to all of the events."
Residents and the student servers commonly get to know one another well over dinner each night, and many form strong bonds. As such, many residents donate to the Scholars' Fund and volunteer their time to the program.
One of those residents is Bill Householder, who's been involved with the Scholars' Fund for three years.
"These kids make your life so much nicer, and you look forward to going to dinner," Bill says. "Some of them have very warm, friendly personalities, and they all work hard and are courteous."
One of Bill's hobbies is calligraphy, and he found an interesting way to use his talent to give back to the student servers. He makes inspirational calligraphy drawings and had given them to his grandchildren and other family members who have gone off to college.
He decided to start gifting them to the graduating seniors at Linden Ponds at the Scholars' Fund awards ceremony.
"I do them on 8 ½- by 11-inch letterhead, and some have flowers, rainbows, or other borders," Bill says. "I try to pick paper that matches the motivational words of wisdom on each one, and we pick the ones that match each student the best."
Bill has also started speaking at the scholarship awards ceremony each year. He recognizes the graduating seniors with personal anecdotes before presenting them with a calligraphy drawing.
"I talk about each student individually," he says. "I spend time in both dining rooms to get to know all the seniors, and I also look at their applications for the scholarships to get to know them."