At last year’s annual New Hope Scholarship Awards Program, the late Jimmie Lee Edwards, its main proponent, was memorialized. Special dance and musical performances were done in her memory by her grandchildren.
Edwards was the primary motivator behind the ministry, which began 29 years ago as the brainchild of her Young Adult Sunday School Class. At that time, former state Sen. Jean C. Edwards was Sunday School superintendent and together, with other members of this small country church, have succeeded in providing educational assistance to hundreds of students from the continental United States, and from several foreign countries.
These scholarships were often the lifeline that determined if a student stayed in school, or even graduated, when they were struggling to pay semester’s tuition and other fees, or even purchase books. In fact, originally small book scholarships were awarded, and as time progressed scholarship amounts increased.
New Hope AME Church of Sherrill has come to be known by locals as the church with a heart. The church has long been known for its generosity, however, without the loyal support of friends and family, the scholarship ministry would not have been successful. Contributors to this fund have never met many of the hundreds of students whom they have helped with scholarship aid to purchase books, pay tuition and other fees.
In 2009, the local members of the firefighters organization, Banishing Racial Animosity Vigorously Everywhere, joined forces with New Hope in order to maximize the efforts of both organizations.
The president of B.R.A.V.E. said, “B.R.A.V.E. has partnered with the New Hope Church Scholarship Program for many years. In the 2013-2014 school year B.R.A.V.E. awarded three $500 scholarships and one scholarship from the endowment fund to students at our great university (UAPB). We are proud of this opportunity to help students and hope to continue giving.”
The recipients of the three $500 B.R.A.V.E. scholarships were Jamal Courtney, Jamison Murry and Eric Wilkins.
New Hope gave 10 $400 scholarships to Steven Howard, Christopher Brown, Kieona Culclager, Randall Hill, Xavier Kirklin, KenJanna Shaw, Ryan Jordan, Bregina Dickerson, Brandon Black and Marcelle Knight. One Single Parent Scholarship of $500 was awarded.
Interest from the fund in 2013 amounted to $7,030. Six scholarships were awarded from the accrued interest. Three $1,406 scholarships went to three students majoring in agriculture. Recipients were Devin Thomas, Shawntavia Bell and Chelsea Beavers. One $1,406 scholarship was awarded to Alichia S. Wilson, who is majoring in fisheries, and two $703 scholarships were awarded to Danielle Johnson and Lataisha McFarland, who are majoring in human sciences.
At the beginning of 2014, accrued interest amounted to $7,930. Recipients of these funds will be announced at the annual scholarship program on Aug. 23.
The next landmark for this ministry of the New Hope AME Church is to increase the New Hope Endowment Fund to $250,000. With such an endowment, the fund’s future will be ensured for years to come.