By Leonela Tasé Sueiro
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties is fortunate enough to have the support of some of Sarasota’s most generous and passionate philanthropists who are helping build the next generation of leaders. Among them are Steven and Marjolaine Townsend, who established the Steven & Marjolaine Townsend Scholarship Fund in collaboration with Take Stock in Children and BGCSDC in 2018. Since it’s inception, the fund has covered two years of tuition for each of the 33 Club members.
For the Townsends, the most rewarding part is coming back to the Club and seeing the progress and growth of their award recipients. For many teens, the Townsend scholarship is an incentive to pursue their professional dreams. Caleb, a 9-year BGCSDC member and recipient of the Townsend scholarship, says the opportunity changed his life.
“Being a Townsend Scholar meant that all my hard work over the course of my 4 years of high school paid off. This opportunity changed my life because of the fact that I was able to focus more on my career,” Caleb said.
Caleb and his family felt relieved and excited that they would not have to strain or go out-of-pocket to fund Caleb’s post-secondary education. Instead, he could concentrate on changing the world and paying it forward.
“As of right now, I am 20 years old, and I’m in my 3rd year of college. I’m studying business. My career aspirations are to better the community by adding more beneficial companies to it,” Caleb said.
Steven and Marjolaine Townsend have been making post-secondary education more accessible since 1999, when they established their first scholarship fund in their home state of Connecticut. Both were the first members of their respective families to attend college, so education has always been important to them. They have adopted the promotion of education as their life goal and enacted that goal by helping as many young people as possible get access to an education they might not otherwise have access to. Through 2021, a total of 348 scholarships have been awarded to deserving students at Quinebaug Valley Community College.
“Education is a door to the whole world. It helps you to get a good job, but it also exposes you to so many things you might not ordinarily have had an opportunity to do. We just want to expose people to all the things that they can do,” Marjolaine said.
Although education is their biggest passion, it is not their only one. The Townsends have been recognized as philanthropists around the country. They helped fund the Townsend Emergency Department at Day Kimball Hospital, named after them for their significant contribution to the project. They have also, alongside Partners in Development, done meaningful work in Haiti and Mississippi: they helped build a medical clinic, a well for residents to have fresh drinking water, and six homes.
We invite you to See Yourself Here and recognize the significant impact your support can have on a child’s life. To find out how you can leave your own legacy, contact BGCSDC at www.bgcsdc.org or by phone at 941-366-3911.