DANVILLE — Last year, Sara Mahorney's life was turned upside down when she and her children unexpectedly became homeless and had to move into a shelter.
At the time, the Rossville woman was a first-year student in Danville Area Community College's office systems/accounting program.
"I was debating whether to come back this semester," said Mahorney, who was selected to receive the Lowell and Florence Crawford Scholarship, which covers tuition, fees and books.
"But then I thought, 'If someone who doesn't know me believes in me enough to give me a scholarship, then I need to believe in myself,'" continued Mahorney, who is back at school for her second year and whose family is out of the shelter.
Mahorney spoke Thursday morning at the kickoff of the DACC Foundation's Community Division Campaign, the newest phase of the Endless Possibilities: Student and Workforce Success Campaign. The event — which was held in conjunction with an event to welcome students to campus — drew about 50 people.
"That's what this campaign is all about — the students," said Tracy Wahlfeldt, the foundation's executive director. "Having the community campaign kick-off was a good way to showcase the activities that are going on on campus and the opportunities that are available for our students."
Each year, the Endless Possibilities drive raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide scholarships to DACC students, which are awarded in the spring for the following school year.
Last spring, DACC awarded 372 scholarships for the current school year, totaling $342,000, an increase over the previous year when 282 scholarships, totaling a little more than $255,000, were awarded, Wahlfeldt said. This year's recipients and donors will be recognized at an Honors Celebration at 10 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Mary Miller Gym.
"We're very grateful for all of the support we've already received," Wahlfeldt said. "But we still have unmet needs, and we continue to look for recourses to help students attend Danville Area Community College and achieve their goals."
The Community Division Campaign aims to raise awareness about DACC's programs and initiatives and their impact on various communities within the college's district, and expand the foundation's donor base. It's being chaired by Mike Hulvey, general manager of Neuhoff Media; Vickie Miller, DACC board president; and Dwight Lucas, East Central Illinois Community Action Agency chief executive office and a foundation board member.
Community champions and local teams will spread the message at events in various towns, and raise funds for community-based scholarships that will support students from those towns. They also will make people aware of the various ways they can give to the college through foundation programs such as the Mary Miller Society.
"People will know those faces, and they know who they are supporting," Wahlfeldt said, adding they will have watched them go through the local school system, know them from church or see them at community functions.
In addition to Mahorney, Jennifer Card of Bismarck spoke at the kick-off. She received a Presidential Scholarship, which covers tuition for two years, and the Thyssen Krupp Crankshaft Scholarship, which provides $1,000 toward books and fees and an internship.
"I have four older brothers and am the first in my family to go to college," said Card, who's studying business administration. "I won't have to pay for my first two years of college because of scholarships."
The foundation will begin taking scholarship applications for the 2013-14 school year in December. The last day to apply is Feb. 28, 2013.
For more information on donating or applying for a scholarship, call (217)443-8772 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.