As a member of the Medicaid Billing team at Greenbush - The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, Beatrice Fontelroy helps learners every day, albeit indirectly: she works with schools to draw down federal funds that cover the cost of providing special education services.
Back home in Parsons, her support for learners is more direct. She is founder and manager of the W. H. Fontelroy Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in honor of her father, who was known for his civic and political work in the Parsons community.
Since its establishment in 2015, the fund has given 20 scholarships to graduating seniors at USD 503 Parsons.
“The first scholarship was just my own personal money and money from some of my family members,” Fontelroy said. “Over the years it’s just kind of grown, and I thought I really needed to organize myself and get this thing going properly. So I applied for the 501(c)3 and got that going, and now we’re able to apply for grants and accept those moneys through the foundation.”
Fontelroy presents four scholarships per year. Together with her brother and her niece, they examine applications, considering factors such as GPA and college plans, in order to determine who will receive the funds.
Fontelroy has big plans for the future of the foundation. She is especially concerned with connecting students to history.
“When I was a Sunday School teacher, I made it a point to take the kids places and let them learn about things so they stay with them, and they have a point of reference,” Fontelroy said. “A lot of kids in this area don’t have the opportunity to venture out and see things, because the money’s just not there. So I would like to use the foundation to do some educational tours and learning opportunities, to add some more value to their education.”
Fontelroy accepts donations to her fund year-round, but her main yearly fund-raiser has just begun. She partners with other religious and civic organizations to sell tickets to an annual tea party dubbed “Ladonna’s Annual Tea.”
The event is named in honor of Ladonna Milton, a Parsons church leader who began the yearly tea tradition many years ago.
“Really it’s just women who like to get together and have an afternoon,” Fontelroy said. “It’s an opportunity to highlight some of the things the women in the community are doing right now.”
Ladonna’s Annual Tea will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6., at the Parsons Senior Center. To find out more, reach out to Beatrice at firstname.lastname@example.org.