Scholarships, Dinners & Donating to Good Causes

Two nights ago I attended the Chancellor’s Dinner for  Grossmont & Cuyamaca College. I was invited because, with the help of the college, I created the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship after my husband, Jim died six years ago. I am always a bit hesitant to attend these events. This dinner is held annually to thank organizers of the scholarships.

I usually feel a bit awkward and out of place at events such as this, yet I really wanted to go. What did I do to make myself feel a little more at ease? I invited a friend of mine, Yvonne, to attend with me. Yvonne worked at Grossmont College. She is a bit more outgoing than I am and I figure she would know some of the attendees. I am glad I invited her.

It was a lovely evening. We were greeted by a music trio, all students at Grossmont College. It was a delightful blend of jazz and blues. The lead singer had a strong, steady and good voice. The dinner was prepared and served by students of the Culinary Arts Program. It was a delicious if not over-filling meal. It was fun to see all these students show off their talents.

This time of the year is full of memories of Jim and myself. As I introduced myself to people and let them know I was Jim’s wife, people’s hands would rise to their heart and sigh. I am glad when that stopped, I really did not want tears to flow. It was good to know they all remembered him with such warmth. I know he would be embarrassed by this display, I am not. I feel grateful that people remember him with such kindness and warmth. He was a good human being and it is reflected in these spontaneous demonstrative moments.

As I enjoyed an evening at the college with others who care about student achievement, I couldn’t help but feel that creating the scholarship in Jim’s name was definitely the right thing to do. He cared deeply for the students and the staff at the college. I am glad that I followed through on this idea.

At this time of the year I usually give my readers information on how to donate to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This year the west has been inundated with some horrific wildfires. One of the latest is the Camp Fire. It destroyed the town of Paradise. I decided to forgo the scholarship donation request and ask, instead if you would donate what you can to help these people in CA who have lost everything. They will need to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Below are listed some options to donate financially to help these people.

Often we don’t think small amounts of money help, yet they do. Even a small donation may make such a difference. Please reach out if you can and help those in need. This is all we can do for each other and it makes a difference. It makes a difference in your life and in the lives of those that are in need.

Today I am thankful for the kindness of people.




Enjoying the Bi-annual Scholarship Awards Breakfast


images-2This past Saturday was the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College student scholarship awards breakfast. I am invited to attend these breakfasts twice a year to present the award for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. Saturday was the second breakfast I could attend.

I always thought that these breakfast would be slow and more of a duty than something that I would like to do. Like the first breakfast, this one surprised me. The student that received the scholarship award this semester was Ivan. She and her family are originally from Iraq. Despite her and her family’s struggles they made it to the US. She is married with two young children. She is studying toward her degree in Social Services. She also volunteers at the college and tutors other students.

Click here to read Ivan’s Essay

Ivan and the other students who received scholarships this semester represent the best of this  generation of college students. These students are ambitious and driven with a need to succeed. The other quality I noticed with many of them is their desire to reach out and help others. I find I leave these breakfasts with feeling of hope for our country and our world.



Jim had dedicated most of his adult life working in the student counseling world within the community college system of California. It seemed almost a natural progression on his death to set up this scholarship. I believe Jim would be happy to know that he is still helping students to succeed.

Jim had more than two passions in life. I decided to dedicate this scholarship to two areas of study. One semester the scholarship is awarded to a student in the social sciences. This student is planning to matriculate to a 4 year program. The other semester the scholarship goes to a student that is pursuing a career in the arts. It is always so interesting to read the essays that come attached with the invitation. Each one is individual and interesting. I am glad that this scholarship can help these students to succeed.

I have been working on raising money to make this scholarship into a perpetual one. So far I have raised over $9000. I need to raise $16,000 more. I am not a fund raiser so I have just relied on the gifts of friends. If you would like to donate to the cause there are a couple of ways you can do this. On the right hand side of this page is a green Go Fund Me button. If you click on it it will take you to Jim’s page. If you would prefer you can make out a check to:

FGCC (Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges)
Mention that the contribution is for The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

Mail contributions to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Tax Deductible Contributions per section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code; EIN 45-2692818

Even the smallest contribution will help and it will certainly be appreciated. Here is my plea for this semester.


I look forward to the next scholarship award. I am anxious to see who will receive this one. I look forward to reading their essay and I look forward to presenting this scholarship to the next deserving student.