Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County has been blessed with substantial generosity over the years. This organization has the best donors, supporters and volunteers in the NWA community with a growing number of new interest each year. Over the last 33 years, there have been people who have impacted recipient’s lives in such a way that the generosity ripple effect goes through the SPSFBC staff, supporters and reaches all the way to the outer community. Martha (Robertson) Rose is an incredible example of this type of generosity. She was very involved in the NWA community for over 20 years, and a great supporter of SPSFBC since the early 1980’s. Knowing what it is like to be divorced and alone, Martha had a special understanding of what it is like for the SPSFBC single parent recipients. She also understood the value of hard work and determination, having been a career registered nurse. For many years, she served as a mentor for SPSFBC, an active member of the Advisory Council and volunteered to interview students for scholarships. Whether she was serving hamburgers at the student picnic or punch at the annual Student Benefit, she always showed her beautiful smile. Martha was so passionate about the work of SPSFBC that she included the organization in her legacy planning strategy. Martha named Single Parent the beneficiary of a $100,000 life insurance policy, which she and her financial planner, long-time SPSFBC supporter Shawn Taylor at Thrivent Financial, included as part of her plan. After she passed in 2006, an endowment was created that gives four $1,000 scholarships to returning recipients in any field and gives two $1,500 scholarships to recipients in the medical field each year at the annual Student Benefit.
Martha Rose’s generous spirit and her forward thinking legacy planning allows $7,000 per year to go to SPSFBC recipients that are furthering their education for the benefit of their families and communities. One particular student, Shawna Clark, shared the story of her journey and the impact that the Martha Rose scholarship had on her and her family’s life.
Having moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2009, Shawna knew that going back to school was in her future. She applied for the SPSFBC program as soon as she was eligible and was accepted into the program. Shawna started at NWACC, taking two classes per semester, working toward the goal of being accepted in the nursing program. Finances were a struggle, as they are for a large number of recipients, but she persisted in not only being a thriving student, but also a productive and attentive mom.
“The scholarships I received through SPSFBC helped immensely during this time as I was not able to work. I remember my first Student Benefit, sitting at the tables getting to know others around me as well as the donors who contributed to this wonderful program. They started calling up the students who received additional scholarships and this is when I first heard of the Martha Rose Nursing Scholarship. My eyes lit up and I knew, that at some point, I wanted to be able to walk up on that stage and receive this scholarship.”
Shawna achieved this goal and was awarded the scholarship at the 2014 and 2015 Student Benefit.
“I was elated to say the least. This was a dream of mine and I was living it. This scholarship is special to me because it pertains to the nursing field and recognizing those who are striving to become a nurse in order to take care of others like SPSFBC took care of me. To be able to receive the Martha Rose Nursing Scholarship two years in a row was a blessing. The money that comes from this scholarship really helped my household out by allowing me to focus on school and not stress out about how I was going to pay my bills.”
Shawna worked tirelessly to complete her degree, and in 2017, became a Registered Nurse. She attributes much of her success to SPSFBC and scholarships like the one given in memory of Martha Rose.
“I can honestly say SPSFBC was a lifesaver for me. The staff truly care about the recipients and the donors are the most gracious to allow myself and others in the same shoes, to be able to pursue a higher education to have a career for our families. With the help of SPSFBC, I made this happen for my family.”