Student-workers given scholarships for college

June 05, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Deepan Patel has waited tables and worked in a buffet serving line for more than two years at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville.

He also attends Catonsville Community College -- with the assistance of the residents he serves.

The residents get a little emotional about the students who are among the 850 employees at Charlestown and who, they say, make life a little more pleasant for them.

They support their feelings with cash by contributing to the students' education through a scholarship fund that has raised more than $200,000 in less than six years.

"The scholarship money is a tribute to the high level of performance and character of the youngsters who work here," said Charlestown resident Virginia D. Moore, a former supervisor of elementary schools in Anne Arundel County.

"I tell them no one can take your education away from you," she says.

Ms. Moore, who is one of about 1,800 residents on the 110-acre property on Maiden Choice Lane, has contributed to the scholarship fund each year of the five she has been at Charlestown.

Mr. Patel, 18, is one of 51 students eligible to receive $1,000 a year for up to four years to attend college. Another 42 students will receive help beginning this fall.

The requirements are fairly simple. The students must have worked at Charlestown for a total of 1,000 hours during their junior and senior years in high school, and they must take 12 hours a semester in college.

"We want to help them make a decision to continue their education," says Rosemary Eck, director of gift planning at Charlestown.

"Many of them are putting themselves through college, and this is an extra boost," she says. "We also want them to continue to work at Charlestown during their college years, but that's not a requirement."

The scholarship program also helps Charlestown to maintain a stable and highly motivated work force, Ms. Eck says.

dTC The community has raised $57,500 toward its goal of $80,000 this year to support the 93 students who will be in the program.

"Fortunately, we have some money left over from last year," Ms. Eck said.

Christie Burchett, 20, has been working at Charlestown for 5 1/2 years. A graduate of Catonsville High School, she received her associate of arts degree from Catonsville Community College this spring and will attend Towson State University or the University of Maryland Baltimore County this fall.

"The scholarship money makes a crucial difference," she says, "because I'm paying my own way. It's nice that the residents care. This is a family-oriented place, and the residents are like grandparents to us."

Up to 75 percent of the residents contribute to the scholarship fund, Ms. Eck says. They give an average of $93. Some contribute as part of a group.

"A sewing club here made a quilt and sold it for $1,631 and gave the money to the fund," she said. "A sale of goods donated by the residents brought in $3,000."

There are 250 high school students at Charlestown who work in food service under the direction of Lenora Booth. Many of the scholarship students come from that department, including her son, Robert James Booth II, who started working at Charlestown four years ago at age 14 and is now a cashier in one of the six dining rooms.

"We have many who start here at that age, which can be done with limited hours and a work permit," she says.

Her son, a graduate of Centennial High School in Howard County, will study chemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma this fall.

"The residents know the importance of education," Ms. Booth says. "They have a vested interest in these youngsters, who actually become surrogate grandchildren to them."

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