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Hide-A-Way-Lake Scholarship recipients

Two high school seniors are being honored with a new scholarship for their community service and good citizenship by a newly created nonprofit called the Scholarship Foundation for Hide-A-Way Lake Students.

Kelsey DeVore and Kaden Swanson are each receiving $2,000 scholarships from the foundation to help them pursue college degrees. Both students plan to attend Pearl River Community College in the fall.

DeVore was in the Beta Club, National Honor Society, vice-president of FCA and on the dance team at Pearl River Central High School. She plans to finish her basics at PRCC, so she can apply for an occupational therapy assistant program. DeVore did observation hours at Highland Community Hospital, which convinced her she was on the right path.

“I had always thought about being an occupational therapist, but after going in and seeing what an occupational therapist actually does, it made it very clear that that was the calling I had been given,” said DeVore.

While stuck home from school due to the pandemic, DeVore has been volunteering at a day camp her church is offering for the children of healthcare workers.

“I think community service can be done anywhere with anyone when there’s a need,” she said.

Kaden Swanson volunteered to be a “Buddy” at Buddy Ball, a program that helps adults with disabilities play baseball, for the last three years. He worked as a student leader at the St. Charles Borromeo vacation Bible school for the last four years and was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout for a project he led to help the Pearl River County SPCA. The project involved using old two liter bottles to dispense treats to dogs at the shelter.

Swanson plans to become a middle school English teacher and he’d like to return to his own middle school, Pearl River Central, to teach.

“It’s been my favorite place,” said Swanson.

Both students said they are grateful for the scholarship.

“It makes it a lot easier for me to go to college. I’m very grateful for any scholarships I may have received,” said DeVore.

The Scholarship Foundation began in 2019, and organizers raised money through a White Linen Night with a silent auction. Organizers plan to hold another White Linen Night in October to raise funds for next year, said Tom Gibilterra.

The scholarship was founded because the group wanted to help students who live in Hide-A-Way-Lake, whether they are graduating from conventional high school, home schooled or qualifying for a GED. The scholarship is designed to help students go to college, or to pursue a trade or apprenticeship, said Gibilterra.

“There’s this huge deficit in trades people within the community and in the future, and not everybody is cut out to go to college, but they may be very adept at a trade. We’re trying to encourage folks to have a career, whether it’s a college career or a career in a trade,” said Gibilterra.