Ottawa County Community Foundation (OCCF) Executive Director Shea McGrew understands that education is expensive.
“A scholarship can be a life-changer. Those with limited resources may only be able to afford attending college or a trade school thanks to the generosity of donors,” McGrew said.
In 2023, more than $184,000 was awarded to 153 students via more than 55 individual OCCF scholarship funds set up by area organizations, families and individuals. One such fund is the Carl and Phyllis Bensch Family fund, formed in 2020 by Phyllis and the Bensch children – Alan, Arlyn and Rhonda.
“We thought an OCCF scholarship fund would honor our parents’ legacy,” said Arlyn Bensch. “My folks valued education. It was important to them, and they conveyed that importance to the three of us.”
Arlyn, a trustee on the OCCF Board, said he and his siblings grew up watching his parents work hard at everything they did. The scholarship fund was created to help “graduates who have a love of learning” as his parents did. It provides two scholarships each year — one for a student pursuing a career in the science or medical fields and one for a student pursuing a career in skilled trades or agriculture.
The elder Bensches, who were married for 70 years, were both raised with farming in their blood.
Carl, a 1939 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, was a lifelong farmer on the family farm located west of Oak Harbor. Before his passing in 2016, he was also Board President of Woodville Mutual Insurance Company, served on the Northwest Ohio Ag Credit Board and was presented with the Ottawa County Soil & Water Conservation Operator of the Year award.
Phyllis graduated from Webster High School in 1940. Her father, also a farmer, died at the age of 39 during the Great Depression, but Phyllis’ mother kept the farm going while raising three young children. The farm, located just outside of Pemberville, is still in the family. A homemaker, gardener and quilter, Phyllis worked at the Ottawa County office of the Agricultural and Stabilization Conservation Service and as a grain clerk at two local elevators. She passed away in 2021.
“The Bensch Family legacy will continue to further the hopes and dreams of area students well into the future,” said McGrew. “OCCF is here to help facilitate such generosity from one generation to the next.”
Each OCCF scholarship fund agreement has its own set of unique requirements established by the fund donor’s wishes. To find out more about setting up a scholarship fund, visit www.ottawaccf.org or contact McGrew at 419-635-7750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCCF scholarship information may be found at www.ottawaccf.org/scholarships. For specific scholarship deadlines, students should contact their school guidance counselors.
Since its inception, OCCF has distributed more than $7 million in grants and scholarships. More information can be found at www.ottawaccf.org, email@example.com, 419-635-7750 or by visiting the OCCF office at 306 Madison Street, Port Clinton on Wednesdays, noon-3 p.m.