2018 Van Dellen Scholarship Winners: Claire Hunter and Mia Melao

Westfield – The Westfield Foundation is pleased to announce Claire Hunter and Mia Melao as the Clarence H. and Florence Horn Van Dellen Scholarship recipients for 2018.

Claire Hunter studies at The College of New Jersey.

Claire was an outstanding student at WHS, taking a very demanding program of study.  She balanced her rigorous academic schedule while teaching “Little Stars” – a dance program for children with special needs and disabilities.  She was an Assistant Athletic Trainer, a Transition Leader and has reached the highest level in Girl Scouts.

Claire is attending The College of New Jersey.  She is studying Occupational Therapy. Her journey to become an occupational therapist was sparked by her Junior research paper.  Being a lifelong dancer, she wanted to combine her love of dance with her interest in the health sciences.   She focused on the use of dance therapy with autistic children.  Her results found a positive effect on the physical, emotional, mental and social well-being of the children. Her goal is to use dance therapy combined with a degree as an occupational therapist to help children with autism.

Mia Melao is a student at Fairfield University.

At WHS, Mia was a standout cross-country runner and is on the cross-country team for Fairfield University in Connecticut, where she is enrolled in the honors program, studying nursing. Mia shared her love of running with youth in the area, as a coach for the Westfield YMCA Flyers Track Club.  Additionally, Mia was an active member at WHS as a transition leader, a member of the WHS National Honor Society, volunteered as a peer minister at St. Helen’s Church, and volunteered for Project Linus, a charity dedicated to distributing blankets to children in hospitals, shelters, and social service agencies.

Mia realized she wanted to be a nurse during her junior year of high school.  An AP Biology class reading requirement, Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul, inspired her Junior research paper.  For her research, Mia studied new technologies which could predict illnesses in a fetus that would not present themselves until late adulthood.  This paper combined with her dissection unit in biology made her realize she loved the sciences and inspired her to become a nurse.

The Van Dellen Scholarship is $10,000 a year for four years totaling $40,000.  The selection criteria for the scholarship are: community service, academic achievement (top 25% of class), character, financial need and leadership.

The Westfield Rotary’s Scholarship Committee also administers several scholarships for the community-based Westfield Foundation.  Two top scholarships awarded in memory of Charles and Florence Wallace total $15,000 each, to be paid over the course of four years. The 2018 recipients are Claire Hunter and Shea Elliott.   The recipient of the Scholarship in memory of Chester A. Gerdes is Noah Ensslin.  In addition, the Linda Read Memorial Scholarships recipient is Julia Vricella-Stokes and the Read Law Scholarships recipients are Julia Schiano and Julia Robb.

Complete listing of the 2018 scholarship winners is here.

Foundation Holds Annual End of Year Meeting with Guest Speakers from WAYVE

This past May, the Westfield Foundation trustees hosted their public annual end of year meeting at the Westfield Memorial Library.  President Janet Sarkos reflected on her tenure at the Westfield Foundation.  Since she joined the board in 2013, the Foundation has added 14 new funds, bringing the total of funds to 122.  Assets under management in those five years have more than doubled from $11.9 million to $24.4 million.  The board awarded over $1.5 million in grants to community organizations and awarded over $750,000 in scholarships to promising young students.

This past year, the Foundation awarded their first grant from the Betty Bogaert fund.  Bogaert was a longtime Westfield resident who died in 2016 and left a bequest to the Foundation.  The grant will be used by the town of Westfield for the Mindowaskin Park playground, which is currently being renovated.

The Foundation recognized three trustees who have completed their six-year term on the board: Darielle Walsh, Ray Kostyak and Jay Boyle.  They also welcomed four new trustees for 2018-19: Corey Wu-Jung, John Schmidt, Lawrence Darrow and Tim Boyle.

(l to r): WAYVE Program director, Vicki Simpson, Westfield Foundation President, Janet Sarkos and WAYVE Program Director Jill Dispenza.

Guest speakers, Westfield Area Youth Volunteer Experience (WAYVE) Program Directors Jill Dispenza and Vicki Simpson, thanked the Foundation for their generous grant to Jewish Family Services of Central New Jersey (JFSCNJ) which allowed the creation of the WAYVE program in the fall of 2017.  WAYVE provides youth in Westfield and surrounding communities with quality volunteer opportunities throughout Union County.  The mission of WAYVE is to match agencies and individuals in of volunteers with teens and young adults looking to enrich their lives through volunteerism.  WAYVE is coordinated by JFSCNJ.

Since 1975, the mission of the Westfield Foundation has been to provide funding support in the arts, health, aging, historic preservation, social services and civic projects.  In pursuit of these goals, the Foundation has granted over than $6,400,000 to various organizations.

Money to support the Foundation’s grants has been and continues to be provided by concerned and caring Westfield residents.

For more information about the Westfield Foundation grant or donor opportunities, please contact Betsy Chance, Executive Director at 908-233-9787. You can visit the Foundation’s website for further information at: https://thewestfieldfoundation.com.