Never Too Late for an Education

Tracie Clark, Polly Amy and Kathleen Browne gather for a memorable moment at Hummingbird Heaven Tea Room in Martinsville, Ind. Clarke and Browne were the 2007 recipients of the CFMC's Never Too Late Scholarship for non-traditional students.

One person really can make a difference through the Community Foundation of Morgan County. Just ask Martinsville resident Polly Amy.

In 2003, Polly’s life was in a state of turmoil. She was caring for her husband, Charles, who suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. She was worried about her son, Craig, stationed in Iraq with the National Guard. And, as though these were not enough burdens to bear, Polly was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

Despite these major distractions, she decided to reach out to resolve a need in the community.

“In your mind you feel you want to do something to help the world,” Polly said.

Inspired by a friend who went back to school later in life, Polly started The Never Too Late Scholarship Endowment at the Community Foundation of Morgan County.

Although attending school at any age is difficult, it was exceptionally difficult for Polly’s friend Carol Smile. She decided to get her GED in her 50s while her husband was seriously ill and she was working.

Carol found that many scholarships were available for students graduating from high school, but few were available for students of other ages.

Carol pursued her dream and funded her education without financial assistance, finishing her GED and then going on to become an LPN. She began working for The Waters in Martinsville, where she set a new precedent for the halls by being the first LPN appointed the head of a unit. She went above and beyond the call of duty by starting new programs and activities.

“I hate to think about the people who would have missed out on her care if she hadn’t gone back to school,” Polly said. “There is a great need for scholarships to help people of this age.”

Polly saw the impact her friend had, so she created her scholarship for Morgan County residents age 30 or over returning to school to pursue a GED, associate’s, bachelor’s or graduate degree.

Polly chose to change lives through the Community Foundation of Morgan County because community foundations allow charitable plans to continue in perpetuity. Contributions made to endowment funds such as The Never Too Late Scholarship Endowment are never spent; instead, the money is prudently invested to grow and produce earnings. Distributions can then be made from the earnings.

Polly has worked with the CFMC since its creation by merger in 2000, first as a member of the board of directors, and then as a member of the Scholarship Advisory Committee.

“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life,” Polly said. “The people have been great.”

Polly also started her endowment in a special way. Together with friends in Morgan County, Polly
"Never Too Late for Another Cookbook"
featuring over 200 recipes from Morgan County
residents. Available at both CFMC offices and
local businesses for $20.All proceeds benefit
the "Never Too Late" Scholarship for adults
30 and over returning to school. The cookbook
includes recipes from scholarship recipients,
the former Hummingbird Heaven restaurant, and
local residents.
created the “Never Too Late Cookbook,” which was sold in Morgan County businesses. After paying for the printing herself, the cookbook raised $10,000 to start the fund. Polly is in the process of starting a second cookbook to raise additional funds. It will be called “Second Chance.”

Polly has been blessed by the stories of the recipients of her scholarship over the years.

Mary Campbell, 51, received the Never Too Late scholarship for two years. Mary worked as an EMT and dispatcher at Wishard Ambulance Service until her children were born, and at that point she became a full-time stay-at-home mother.

Mary and her husband have seven children and have fostered over 30 children over the years in their loving home. As her children grew older, Mary realized she wanted to prepare herself for a future career.

“I was feeling so guilty knowing that my son was going to college and I wanted to spend money on me,” Mary said. ‘This scholarship was God’s way of saying, ‘Go for it.’”

Mary is now at Ivy Tech studying nursing. She dreams of eventually working in an emergency room.

Mary hopes her story encourages others to pursue their dreams. “Don’t ever let your age intimidate you,” she said.

Mary’s dream became a reality in part thanks to The Never Too Late Scholarship Endowment. The endowments held at the Community Foundation of Morgan County are priceless because they will remain in the community benefiting countless residents for years to come. Endowments can be started with $10,000, with distribution from the endowments starting when the fund reaches $20,000.

If you are interested in helping people like Mary achieve their goals by creating an endowment, or if you would like to contribute to an existing scholarship endowment, please contact the Community Foundation of Morgan County, Inc. locally at (765) 813-0003, toll-free at (877) 822-6958, or online.

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