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Kiwanis Turnaround Scholarship: Transforming Lives for Half a Century

This Thursday supporters of the annual Kiwanis Turnaround Scholarship will enjoy some fine California vintages, an extensive spread of hors d’oeuvres and a chance to win $1,000 while helping a group of young people who are rarely awarded scholarships.

Started 50 years ago, the annual fundraiser is a joint effort on the part of South Bay Kiwanis clubs, including Santa Clara Kiwanis, to help young people who are often forgotten by scholarship programs.

The program recognizes young people who have confronted difficulties, from drug addiction to learning disabilities, to family problems or any one of a host of well-documented problems that can throw students off-course.

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“Some of these students have so many problems at home, that getting to school at all is an achievement,” said longtime Kiwanis member Rick Mauck.

But despite the obstacles, Scholarship recipients have turned their lives around and are now headed for college or specialized career training.

Over the years the Turnaround scholarship has given over $2 million to more than 7,000 young people, awarding more than 100 annually. Last year, six Santa Clara Unified students received scholarships.

The $1,000 to $2,000 scholarships not only enable students to attend school, they also help them to succeed when they get there by providing counseling and college orientation classes. Students can continue to receive scholarships as long as they maintain 10 to 12 credits.

For Angelica Hillario, now a junior at San José State University studying psychology, a Kiwanis Turnaround Scholarship has been key to reaching her goals. Aiming to become a clinical psychologist, the Kiwanis scholarship has helped Hillario pay for her education today while saving toward the graduate degrees she will need to achieve her objectives.

While in high school Hillario suffered from social anxiety so debilitating that it left her unable to function in school. Santa Clara Unified School District’s alternative high school program allowed her to work through her difficulties and return to the comprehensive high school and graduate on time and ready to take on college work.

Her own experience is one of the reasons Hillario chose to become a psychologist. “I feel a lot of empathy for other people with the same problems I had,” she said, “and I want to be able to help them.”

The Kiwanis Turnaround Scholarship Benefit is Thursday, April 4 from 6 – 8 p.m., at Villa Ragusa, 35 South Second St., Campbell. For more information, call (408) 867-1701, email mbhm@earthlink.net or visit www.d12kiwanis.org, “events.”

The Santa Clara Kiwanis Club meets every Tuesday for lunch at Mariani’s Restaurant, 2500 El Camino Real from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Visitors are always welcome. For information, visit www.d12kiwanis.org.  To learn about the history and work of century-old Kiwanis International visit www.kiwanis.org.

Pictured: Dedicated Santa Clara Kiwanis Club members Scott Morton (L) and Steve Ricossa were busy pouring wine at the service club’s Turnaround Scholarship fundraiser last year.

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