Steve G Mason – LCAM, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Chapter President – CAI Southeast Florida
We all know and won’t forget that 2020 was the “Year of the Pandemic”. As such, there were many businesses struggling, the work force was decimated, and we all were just wondering what the next steps would be? However, as the country begins to overcome the challenges we faced in the last year, we found out that students pursuing a career in education were also affected. Our chapter in Southeast Florida of Community Associations Institute (CAI) decided to use our platform to help.
It’s no secret, that educators pursue this career for the passion and not the salaries. Typically, this starts on the high school level as it did with Michelle Wilson, high school teacher at West Broward High School. Michelle is a former member of “Future Educators of America” (FEA) which is an organization throughout Broward High Schools. Throughout her 20+ year career as a high school teacher, she has played an active role in this organization.
Michelle is my sister and brought it to my attention in February of this year that she felt horrible for the senior student members of FEA as they will not be able to award scholarships this year as they have done in previous years. She went on to explain the scholarship account is typically funded by the previous years profits of various sales, such as diploma frames, etc. However, as the pandemic led to the cancellation of the previous school year, there were no funds.
Every year prior to the pandemic, FEA typically awards 20-25 scholarships in the amount of $750 to $1,000 to senior students in Broward County that apply for this scholarship. The students go through this application process which are review by Xenia Santiago (Broward County Student Activities Liaison) and her team to select the recipients. These funds are sent directly to the college/university once the student enrolls and provides a course schedule.
As the Chapter President of Community Associations Institute (CAI) Southeast Chapter, I thought this may be a great opportunity for our “CAI Gives Back” initiative we started a couple years ago. What a great cause as to helping these students who want to be future educators in a flawed system and understanding this year’s trials and tribulations they witnessed with “on-line learning”. After the CAI Board of Directors unanimously approved to raise money to fund the scholarship account, the work began.
CAI launched the fundraiser on Monday, March 29th to collect funds throughout the month of April. CAI also hosted a fundraiser dinner event on Thursday, April 22 nd to say “Thank You” for those that made a generous donation to this great cause. Our goal was to raise $15,000.
Due to the tremendous support of our Business Partners at CAI, we were extremely excited to reach our goal of $15,000. The CAI Fundraiser dinner event was attended by several of those Business Partners that made generous donations, Michelle Wilson (teacher), Felicia Burgin (teacher and former scholarship recipient), Matthew Singh (Student Recipient of 2020) , Xenia Santiago (Student Activities Liaison), and School Board Member, Debbie Hixon.
On Friday, April 30th , 2021, we are proud to say, fifteen scholarships will be awarded to senior student members of FEA.
For more information about CAI Gives Back, contact our CED, Jill Proietti, at 954-816-0661.