West Side church hosts event to raise college funds

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West Side residents gathered last weekend to support a walkathon at La Follette Park to raise funds for college scholarships.

Members of the Family Altar Baptist Church and Austin residents showed up Saturday morning, exceeding the $6,000 goal that had been set to help young members of the church going off to college.

The church hosted the JLP Scholarship Foundation Walk for Education, along with a barbeque, games and music. Roughly 170 people came out for the event, with some attendees walking five miles to support the cause.

Pastor Quentin Petties said the church raises money every year for youth members who maintain at least a C-average GPA and have a good report at church, home and school. Recipients also must be members of the church for at least three years and show the church their college acceptance letter.

Petties said the church has been able to help over 100 children, with youths receiving a $1,500 stipend before the start of their freshman year.

“It’s not strictly just about the money; it’s about the growth and development of our youth,” he said.

As a recipient of the scholarship himself, Petties said the foundation helped him throughout his college years. He said the foundation is currently working to help more than 10 students with college costs.

Petties’ grandmother, Bishop Jennie L. Petties, who founded the church and scholarship foundation, said the church feels responsible for the children of the church not only spiritually but physically and academically as well.

Jonathan Dudley, a 16-year-old junior at Proviso East High School who participated in the walkathon, hopes to receive a stipend.

Dudley said the church’s scholarship is more significant than other scholarships because it’s coming from people you know.

“I wouldn’t have as big of an urge to go to school if it wasn’t for this foundation,” Jonathan said.

Shamil Williams, 30, received the scholarship in 2002 before she went to school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is still involved, helping raise money today so other children can receive the same help she did.

“When you receive most scholarships it goes to the school and you don’t get to see it, but this one is yours,” Williams said.

Dudley’s mother, Rev. Yulanda Dudley, said the scholarship allows some children to get a computer that they might not be otherwise able to afford. She said the church wants to give students a chance and get them in a position to do better in school.

“We have some single-family homes, so at least they know their church is behind them,” Rev. Dudley said. “It makes them feel like someone is supportive of their education.”


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