SCHOLARSHIP PRESENTATIONS

A couple weeks ago we attended the annual Watertown High School awards program as a presenter on behalf of the scholarships managed by the Watertown Area Community Foundation.

That is a special evening, not only for the students and their parents, but also those of us who are fortunate to help with the various presentations, the many individuals and organizations that fund these scholarships which are now nearing $500,000 annually.

We were overwhelmed by how much these awards mean to the students. For some it could very well have been the “make or break” situation as to whether or not they will be able complete their college educations.

Education beyond high school, whether it’s in a four-year university, a two-year associate degree, through an apprenticeship or the military, is critical in today’s world. The more knowledge you have and the more skills you possess, the more valuable you are to prospective employers. That is only going to be a larger issue in the future.

That’s why it was so gratifying to see all those students walk across the stage and get their awards. Watertown High School students are fortunate to have a community that rallies around them and provides some financial resources to help them reach their goals.

Despite presenting scholarships valued at well over $400,000 this year, more award money is needed. There are so many worthy students and the resources are limited.

So, if you have thought about establishing a scholarship, you might want to start by talking with Deb Fischer, the high school teacher who coordinates the school program, or the Watertown Area Community Foundation which establishes many of the scholarships based on the wishes of the individual donor. You can reach me at the Daily Times if you’re interested in learning more about how you can make a difference in people’s lives through a scholarship program. It need not be a large endowment and there are many different ways to get a program started.

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THE DARCEY AWARDS

The program was a special one for another reason as Joe and Sharon Darcey were once again present to issue their annual scholarships.

Joe and Sharon were accompanied by Sharon’s son, Jon Holthaus, who assisted with the presentation.

We talked with Jon a few minutes after the program and he related to us a little information about the scope and size of this scholarship program which was established through the Joe and Sharon Darcey Foundation.

The foundation itself was founded in 1992 when it made a contribution to the Watertown Area Community Foundation to support the downtown river walkway and the math/technology center at Watertown High School. And, it has expanded greatly since that time.

This year the Darceys awarded seven scholarships, each valued at $6,000 for a total of $42,000. With this year’s awards, the Darceys have given $637,000 in scholarships to Watertown High School seniors since its inception.

Their total philanthropic giving has now totaled over $1.6 million.

They also presented awards totaling over $200,000 to local teachers between 1994 and 2009.

In addition to their strong support for education, the Darcey foundation has made contributions to local churches, universities and educational endowments, the local food pantry, Watertown Family Aid, upgrades at the airport, Watertown Historical Society, Octagon House, the library, YMCA, Bread and Roses and many others.

That is an incredible effort! This community has benefited a great deal by this generosity.

What we find so special about this philanthropy is that Joe and Sharon actively participate in the giving. In most cases, these programs are established through estate planning but here we have two of our community’s generous benefactors giving these awards in person.

A few years ago Joe was named recipient of the Watertown Unified School District’s first ever Distinguished Service Award, a well-deserved honor.

We’re looking forward to seeing them onstage at the high school awards program again next year.

PROPER FLAG DISPOSAL

In recent weeks we had several people mention some of the flags flying in Watertown are starting to look a little tattered and that’s to be expected, especially with the windy days we’ve experienced this spring.

Joe Pinky stopped by our second floor office at the Daily Times this week and we asked him about the flag situation. He, of all people, has the time to check on flags as he walks through the downtown area.

Joe said, “Yep, I’ve seen a few which are due for replacing and I’m sure they will be replaced over the summer.”

He also reminded us there are procedures for properly disposing of unserviceable flags in the area. He said, “The American Legion provides that service. All you have to do is bring unserviceable flags to the Daily Times front office, the Watertown Fire Department or place them in the red mailbox at the north side of the Legion Club on South First Street, and when a number of them are collected, the Legion holds a flag burning ceremony according to national Legion regulations.”

Joe was right on the money. Those are the three locations for collecting the unserviceable flags. From there the Legion members conduct a specific ceremony for proper disposal of them.

That was about all the time Joe had on this topic. He often has something to add to topics of the day, but he doesn’t stay in one place all that long.

As he left, Joe responded over his shoulder, “I’m already late for an important meeting where a pint of my favorite lager is awaiting. There will be top level discussions, I’m sure!”

Joe promised to be back to visit again in the near future.

MEMORIAL DAY SERVICES

Don’t forget to stop down by the Watertown Senior and Community Center and Veterans Memorial Park on Monday and share in the Memorial Day program which will be presented by the local veterans organizations.

A short program, including the placing of the wreath in the Rock River, will be held in the senior center parking lot starting at 9:30 a.m. and will be followed by a program a couple blocks east at Veterans Memorial Park. That program will begin about 9:45 a.m.

The program honoring those who lost their lives in service to their country is a perfect way to remember all those sacrifices so many made. It sets the right tone for the entire day.

In case of inclement weather, the program will be held at Turner Hall.

It’s a time to pause and remember.

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