Grateful for the scholarship support she received from the Assistance League® of Long Beach, CSULB student and aspiring special education teacher Gracia Herrera recently wrote to the organization’s scholarship committee, thanking its members for their generosity and stating, “With all of you at my side, I do not feel alone.”
The Assistance League® of Long Beach has been at the side of those in need—young people, especially—since 1940, offering a wide range of programs and services, from free school uniforms to low-cost orthodontia to one-on-one mentoring, that improve individual lives and help make Long Beach a better place to live, study and work.
The Assistance League® of Long Beach is now the largest chapter of the National Assistance League®. Its 900-plus volunteers identify challenges facing the community and then deliver philanthropic programs designed to meet those needs. “The organization is full of so many talented ladies,” said President Bonnie Dorrans. “We learn from each other and hope our efforts are helping improve many lives within our community.”
The organization has been a strong supporter of CSULB and its students for nearly three decades. Over the years, it has awarded several hundred scholarships and contributed more than $600,000 in scholarship funding to the university. Currently, the chapter sponsors both a “general academic” scholarship and a scholarship for students preparing for careers in the education field.
Bonnie herself is a CSULB alumna who went on to have a 35-year teaching career. She notes that many Assistance League® volunteers have pursued careers in education, so the work that is being done in the College of Education is particularly meaningful to them. “We value education, and we know the importance of having good educators out there in our schools,” said Bonnie.
The chapter’s scholarship committee takes a hands-on approach to the programs they sponsor at the university, conducting personal interviews with all of those who are candidates for scholarship awards. “We enjoy getting to know the students and hearing their stories and learning about their aspirations,” Bonnie said. “We always come away from these interviews wishing we had enough money to award scholarships to them all.”
In addition to helping students fulfill their academic and professional promise, Assistance League® scholarships are also inspiring new generations to take up the mantle of philanthropy. Many award recipients tell the organization that they, too, plan to “give back” to their campuses and communities as soon as they are able.
Bonnie hopes that others will be similarly inspired to pledge their support to our deserving students and outstanding teacher-education programs. “Think of a teacher who made a difference in your life,” she said. “How much was that worth?”