Olejniczak family establishes SMC scholarshipPublished 10:23am Wednesday, August 7, 2013
As a tribute to their family’s history in the Dowagiac community, Patricia Patano and members of her immediate family established the Olejniczak Family Memorial Scholarship at Southwestern Michigan College.
The family contributed $2,600 to set up the scholarship, which will be matched by the college foundation to start the endowment at $5,600.
“The principal of the fund will always remain in perpetuity,” said Eileen Toney, executive director of the SMC Foundation and director of development at the college.
“Subsequent contributions to this unrestricted scholarship will also be matched up to $25,000 per fiscal year with 80 percent of the earnings used to fund a student scholarship that will be available in 2015.”
Walter and Bernice Olejniczak, Patano’s grandparents, emigrated from Poland to Michigan in 1920.
The Olejniczaks moved into a house on East Division Street that was built by the Round Oak Stove Co. and began raising their family.
For Patano and her sisters, Nancy and Mary, the home on Division Street held fond memories of their grandparents. The family still owns the house.
The Olejniczaks had four children, Ted, Helen, Irene and Gladys. Ted was a postman with the Dowagiac Post Office; Helen worked for the Draft Board in Dowagiac; Irene was publisher of the Dowagiac Daily News; and Gladys, as a high school student, began working in the office at Round Oak Stove Co., as well as at Shady Shores Resort at Sister Lakes and at Timberline Restaurant at Indian Lake.
Gladys Patano, Patricia’s mother, was instrumental in establishing the scholarship in memory of her family.
Gladys still resides in Dowagiac.
“Our family has been a part of the Dowagiac history for a long time,” said Patano. “We’d come to my grandparents’ on long weekends and holidays. We love the community.”
The Southwestern Michigan College Foundation accepts contributions to existing scholarships or for establishing new scholarships. The non-profit, tax-exempt corporation provides assistance to SMC students who desire to enhance their lives through education and training.
“Seventy percent of our students are financially needy. That’s seven out 10 of our students have a real significant financial need,” said Dr. David Mathews, president of Southwestern Michigan College.
“Generous donations such as the Olejniczak Family Memorial Scholarship insure that students today and in the future will have access to a college education.”