The Plaza del Rio Foundation’s fall 2018 scholarship awards presentation honored 11 employees from both the Freedom Plaza Retirement Campus and Peoria Post Acute and Rehabilitation (formerly Plaza del Rio Care Center) on the Plaza del Rio Campus in Peoria.

Funded by resident donations, the William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded $20,339 in scholarships to 11 students for the fall 2018 semester. Founded in 1997, the semi-annual awards presentation has awarded 402 scholarships, funding $550,074 for tuition and books.

Plaza del Rio Foundation President Gail Poolner, introduced the fall 2018 scholarship board: Co-chairpersons Jeanne Chisholm and Mary Koleski, Vice President Barbara Donald, Secretary Pennie Doss, Assistant Secretary Ruth Davis, Treasurer Joan Peters, Assistant Treasurer Doris Young and committee members Glenn Bennett, Robert Duncan, Paul Meeden, David Mosley, and Theresa Unser, all residents of Freedom Plaza.

Poolner expressed her appreciation to the board, and thanked residents for their generous contributions to the Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“There are two ways to help the program: donate and encourage employees to apply for scholarships,” Poolner said.

“It is an honor to be with you tonight to honor these students,” Freedom Plaza Executive Director Jai Larman said.

Sharing the words of former first lady, Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, John Adams, and mother of sixth president, John Quincy Adams, Larman recited the quote, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be achieved with ardor and diligence.”

Scholarship recipients from Freedom Plaza Retirement Community include: business office Kristi Silva; concierge Stephanie Guzman; dining services Marlee Burgess, Reyna Duran, and Alyssa Linares; housekeeping Stephanie Lawrence; marketing Sherri Clarke and Angela Ott; and resident programs Nicole Hadenfeldt; as well as staff from Freedom Plaza Care Center medical records Kim Morales; and Peoria Post Acute & Rehabilitation dining services Adelyne Gomez.

“I taught for 40 years,” retired schoolteacher Theresa Unser said during the awards presentation. “Scholarship recipients don’t have to attend a four-year college, may choose a trade school to become an electrician, plumber or veterinary assistant. I do believe an education will set you free.”

While introducing two-time scholarship recipient, Linares, Unser recalled, “She was my first server when I moved to Freedom Plaza, and I asked if she was in school.”

Enrolled at Grand Canyon University with a goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, Linares said, “Nice to have a support system, not only at home, at school, but at work.”

Learn more about the Plaza del Rio Foundation and William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund at 623-815-4013.