Women’s Ministries Scholarship Program Celebrates Twentieth Anniversary

BY ADDISON HUDGINS,  Adventist Review intern

Giving Seventh-day Adventist women the opportunity of higher education when it otherwise might not be available is the fruit of a unique volunteer effort that recently marked its twentieth anniversary.

Since its beginning, the General Conference Department of Women’s Ministries Scholarship Program has provided funds for 1,748 women to attend college—and the number is constantly growing. As of the first quarter of 2011, a total of approximatley $767,700 has been raised in the program’s 20-year existence.

In June 2011 a team of volunteers, called Scholarshipping Our Sisters, or SOS, raised an additional $10,000 to meet a matching grant presented to the scholarship program. With this achievement and earlier fund-raisers SOS has earned more than half of its yearly goal of $40,000.

The grant was the largest challenge SOS has ever received. If the remainder of the goal is reached, this will be a $6,000 increase over what was earned in 2010.

COMMITTEE WORK: Members of the Women’s Ministries Scholarship Committee at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists meet to consider applications for educational assistance. In 20 years the all-volunteer “Scholarshipping Our Sisters” effort has raised approximately $767,000 to assist Seventh-day Adventist women attain higher educations.. [PHOTO: GC Women's Minisrry]
SOS was born in 2003, when members of the General Conference Women’s Ministries Scholarship Committee felt distraught over the number of applicants that were being turned down. “There had to be a way to raise more funds,” Carolyn Kujawa, a now-retired General Conference employee who volunteers with SOS, said. “These were our sisters.”

Now SOS raises as much money each year as is made off the royalties from an annual Women’s Ministries devotional book, which also is published and sold to raise funds for the scholarships.

To meet the recent grant proposal, SOS sent out hand-addressed appeal letters that were met with support and success.

“We began [in 2003] with ideas for fund-raising,” Kujawa explains, “then moved on to small meetings to build a team, and started a quarterly newsletter.  Activities now include used-book sales, appeal letters, and other promotional and fund-raising projects.”

Twice a year used-book sales held in the General Conference building during Annual Council and Spring Meeting bring in substantial funds for the program, as do yard sales, a “World Market” (selling items from other countries), memorial funds, the quarterly newsletter, and appeal letters.

Raquel Arrais, associate director for Women’s Ministries and chairperson of the scholarship committee, says, “SOS is about education: the key to changing lives. Education gives these dedicated women a future and a hope. . . . Prayers are answered, lives are blessed forever, families are strengthened, communities are reached, churches are blessed, and, above all, women are empowered.”

Kujawa reiterates the empowerment of those who are helped. “[These women] serve in multiple ways in their churches—leading out in Women’s and Children’s Ministries, Sabbath school, evangelism, health seminars, literacy programs, prison ministry, community service—all while attending school and often raising a family. They are our inspiration.”

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