Memorial scholarships honor Neil Kelly, founder of remodeling business, community leader and charter member of the Rotary Club of Albina
On May 16, the Rotary Club of Albina will present four North/Northeast Portland high school students with the Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship, which provides them $8,000 ($2,000 per year for up to four years) to help pay for their college education.
The Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship was started 17 years ago as a way to encourage higher education in North and Northeast Portland and also honor the memory of Neil Kelly, who started Neil Kelly Co. in that neighborhood in 1947 and spent decades in community service, with particular emphasis on education.
This scholarship is currently helping Amadayo (named changed to protect identity) attend Portland State University as a pre-med student. Here is Amadayo’s story:
Amadayo spoke three (non-English) languages when he came to America with his family fleeing the Civil War in Somalia and only had four years of schooling in both Somalia and Ethiopia. He was placed in the seventh grade, where he excelled. Not only did he learn English, but he moved rapidly to the top of his high school class. Amadayo graduated from Roosevelt High School and was awarded the Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship.
Having witnessed the lack of healthcare services in East Africa, Amadayo is determined to be a pediatrician and to one day return to Somalia where he can provide healthcare and save lives. That has been his dream since he was nine years old.
His high school English teacher said, “His high rank in his graduating class speaks to Amadayo’s incredible resolve to excel academically. In the thirteen years that I have been a high school teacher, Amadayo stands head and shoulders above all others for his devotion to service and leadership. Amadayo is exactly the type of student that your scholarship is designed to support.”
A lifetime investment
By J. Byron Kellar
Albina Rotary Neil Kelly Scholarship Committee president
Each spring, for the past 16 years, I have seen the youth of the world pass before my eyes. They come from Vietnam, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Guatemala, San Salvador and, yes, Portland, Oregon. I have seen teenagers who have immigrated here, many fleeing poverty and persecution, face the challenges of language, customs and contemporary society. I also have seen many born here who face a different set of challenges, obstacles much more daunting than most of us would ever experience.
In this once-a-year assignment, I help decide which four among dozens of North and Northeast Portland high school seniors will receive a modest $8,000 ($2,000 per year for up to four years) college scholarship from the Albina Rotary Foundation, when so many deserve so much more.
Albina Rotary Foundation has built a modest endowment over the past 16 years that funds the Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship. Named after one of Portland’s legendary community leaders, the scholarship is dedicated to recognizing high school seniors, who live in the Albina Rotary service area, for their dedication to their communities. Although they all earn good grades, the higher selection criteria for our committee is their passion for community in all its forms: family, school, church and volunteer community organizations.
Past winners have come from Jefferson, Benson, Madison, Cleveland, De LaSalle North, Central Catholic, Roosevelt, Grant, Open Meadow high schools and the McCoy Academy, but they all shared a common value that puts others before themselves, a true measure of their character.
These young volunteers are involved in such diverse organizations as National Honor Society, school mentoring programs, Habitat for Humanity, Self Enhancement Inc., Oregon Food Bank, local churches and youth groups, while often working part time and weekend jobs to assist their families. I have seen documentation of hundreds of hours of community service, which tells me these kids understand the value of work and education and truly giving back to their communities.
Albina Rotary Foundation marks the 17th anniversary of the Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship this year, as well as the 67th anniversary of Neil Kelly’s start in our community. Our 2014 goal is to continue to build the endowment to continually increase the amount of scholarship we award our winners.
The strength of our city lies in the rich diversity of our community. These North/Northeast Portland students can take genuine pride in what they accomplish now and, in time, what they will “pay forward” to our community for the next generations. Our job is to make certain they have all the encouragement we can muster.
When I first became involved with this program I thought it was about Neil Kelly. Now I know what Neil Kelly knew. It’s about investing in these kids who are absolutely determined to succeed, kids who will continue to give back to us all. There is no better investment.
Our awards luncheon this year will be held on May 16, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m., in the Rose Room at Portland’s Moda Center. To RSVP, contact Margie Davidson at moc.l1502998248iamg@1502998248eigra1502998248mdnad1502998248or1502998248 or (503)-287-6930.
2014 Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship Awards Luncheon
What: 17th annual awards luncheon to announce the four new scholarship recipients
Keynote: Ted Wheeler, Treasurer of the State of Oregon
When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Friday, May 16
Where: Rose Room at Portland’s Moda Center
Why: To help deserving high school students afford the opportunity to attend college.
Cost: Reserved luncheon tickets are $50 per person, which includes a scholarship fund contribution. $30 of the price is tax–deductible.
Contact: The public is welcome. Tickets and information available by calling Margie Davidson at (503) 287-6930 or Tom Jenkins at (503) 305-7682.
About The Neil Kelly Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship program launched in 1998 when the Albina Rotary Club awarded one scholarship for $1,000 to honor the late Neil Kelly. An endowment fund was established and 17 years later it has grown to awarding four $2,000 scholarships renewable for three additional years. The scholarships are funded through earnings from the Albina Rotary Foundation endowment fund. For more information visit albinarotary.org.