Recently we had the opportunity to gather a few of the visionary early members responsible for establishing the GSBA Scholarship Fund 25 years ago. The creators and benefactors of our Founders’ Scholarship, Bob Dlugosh and Don McKee, opened their lovely home for us on a Saturday morning. We heard stories of the first scholarships and talked about the vision and hopes for the future of the Fund. We heard from Rita Smith, who continues to volunteer as a scholarship interviewer, about the need for the scholarship at a time when it was highly risky for a young person to come out in high school. There were no available LGBT options for assistance in attending college and many of our early scholars faced the challenges of having zero support from family or community. Recognizing that need was the impetus to create the Scholarship Fund.
We heard how that continues to be a need today and the importance of the Fund in helping fill that need. Michael Auch shared the significance of the first large bequest to the Fund from the estate of Richard C Rolfs. This was the first major gift of its kind locally and as such it “represented the LGBT community taking pride in itself in a way that had not happened before and therefore opened the door for more giving.”
Everyone spoke of their pride in having helped create something that they did not imagine could grow to give out its two-millionth dollar and to help support so many future leaders in such a significant way. Perhaps the most wonderful moment came when founder Dave Brown encouraged us all to “think about a time in the future when the Fund is $100 million.” Visionary then, and visionary now!