(originally published in the Gabber weekly newspaper on May 10, 2017)

For 20 years, the local Sonia Plotnick Health Fund has been assisting area women with healthcare-related grants. Now they are partnering with St. Petersburg College (SPC) to offer their first academic scholarship.

“It’s exciting and an opportunity for us to create our own legacy for the growing fund,” said Karen Lyndel, chairperson. “The board was looking at all of the ways we might be able to continue to support women along with healthcare or health-related services in our community.”

Since 1997, the fund has helped area women pay for mammograms, breast cancer treatment and other healthcare not necessarily covered by their insurance. According to the fund’s website, during this time, hundreds of women have been recipients of healthcare grants totaling over $160,000.

The inaugural scholarship will be $1,000 distributed in $500 increments across two terms, said Lyndel. The deadline to submit an application to SPC for the 2017 fall semester is May 19 by 5 p.m.

“In the future, I would love to be able to build the scholarship so that we could give to more than one student per semester to support their educational journey,” said Lyndel.

Members of the fund are not involved in the scholarship decision-making process but board members did work with SPC staff to develop the following criteria for applicants:
• be enrolled in a healthcare-related field
• have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average
• have a record of community involvement
• preferably be a woman
• preferably be a member of the SPC GLOW club, which is an acronym for “Gay, Lesbian or Whoever.”

GLOW is a support organization that is a safe place for students who may be interested in the gay and lesbian community, said Lyndel. Members are “the allies as well as folks who may self identify” as being gay or lesbian. For more information about the club, contact the SPC faculty advisor, Dr. Carleah East-Perkins at 727-341-4662.

“We do serve women. That is our focus,” said Lyndel. “We would like to support women in their education at SPC and eventually by developing scholarship programs at other area colleges and universities.”

To apply for the new SPC scholarship, visit spcollege.academicworks.com/opportunities/9045 or for assistance, call the SPC Foundation at 727-341-3302.