During her life, Grace Bishop was not only a founding board member of local foster youth agency Creative Alternatives, she was also one of the most passionate advocates for helping the hundreds of kids served by the agency.
"She was always saying, 'We need to give our kids more services,'" said Creative Alternatives Human Resources Director Darren Borrelli.
Her legacy of caring for foster youth has continued, 16 years after her death, with the Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are funded solely through donations from Creative Alternatives employees, community members and local businesses. Each year, all of Creative Alternatives youth who are turning 18 are able to apply for scholarship funds to help with the expenses of college or getting a full-time job and home of their own.
The youth then go through an interview process to make sure they have "a reasonable plan" for their future and the scholarship funds, said Borrelli.
Dillon Fries and Deshawn Lane are just two of this year's 21 scholarship awardees. Both have plans to attend Merced College in the fall — Fries for business and Lane for fire science.
Fries said he was "a little nervous, but more excited" about living on his own for the first time. He said it was good knowing his scholarship funds would be there in case he needed it for school expenses or an emergency.
"Non-foster youth, we have our parents or families to help us when we go off to college. Foster youth don't often have that help. The scholarship was created to help them. It's hope for our kids, because for some of them Creative Alternatives is their family," said group home social worker Veronica Ramirez.
To help raise funds for the scholarships, Creative Alternatives is holding a 1 mile, 5K and 10K run on June 7 at California State University, Stanislaus. Sign-in and registration will begin at 7 a.m., with the 1 mile starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K and 10K starting at 8:30 a.m. Preregistration for the 1 mile is $20 and $25 for the 5K or 10K. Race day fees are $25 for the 1 mile and $30 for the 5K or 10K. Parking is available on the day of the event in the lot across from the CSUS gymnasium. To register, call Darren Borrelli at 668-9361.
"We couldn't do it without the community," said Borrelli. "It's all through the community."