Earlier this month, the Riverdale Lions Club announced a scholarship awards program to benefit at least one male and one female student who is a resident of District 22, which includes Hyattsville, Berwyn Heights, Greenbelt, Riverdale Park, New Carrollton, University Park, Landover Hills, or Edmonston). Patch sat down with Riverdale Councilman Jonathan Ebbeler who is partnering with the Lions Club to find out a bit more about the program.
Patch: Tell our readers about how the scholarship came to be.
Councilman Jonathan Ebbeler: From my first day in office I pledged to contribute my stipend to local nonprofits and contacted a few to explore their interest in partnering with me. Since the stipend is paid with tax payer money I figured what better way to give back than to return it to an organization that has a direct impact to local residents. We have become a nation that has forgotten how to dream, a nation that looks at problems as insurmountable vs. a challenge to overcome - this needs to change. There are many out there who embrace the spirit and concept of volunteerism, but many more that have not. I am hoping this scholarship is a gesture that helps inspire at least a few people to know that volunteerism does matter and the greatest reward in life is serving others and making our neighborhoods stronger, one person at a time.
Patch: How did you come to partner with the Lion's Club?
J.E: I challenged several organizations to step up to the plate for this effort. The Lions Club enthusiastically accepted the challenge and matched whatever I was willing to put up. Originally it was going to be a $500 scholarship but because my offer was met with unanimous support I increased the award to $1,000 provided that my fellow Lions agreed to the club matching it.
Patch: How will the scholarships be awarded?
J.E: The club’s scholarship committee will review the essays and make a recommendation to the full club.
Patch: How do you envision the awards being used?
J.E: Ultimately it will be up to the awardees to decide how to use the money. People have different needs and different situations. We hope and expect that the scholarship is put to the best possible use to help alleviate the financial burden and strain many of our local students and their families face.
Patch: Is the idea for this to be an annual program? Do you envision other businesses/local/officials/organizations getting involved in the future to grow the program?
J.E: I would like this to be an annual program and I think many of the Lions support it. I am certainly going to push for this and as long as the Lions Club matches my support the program will exist. I hope in future years that we will be able to expand the program through greater community support. The Lions Club does an amazing job with spirit of volunteerism and I have no doubt that we can use this scholarship to make the lives of at least a few people a little easier.