Two graduating Roosevelt High School seniors were interrupted from their sheltering-at-home recently to learn they’d each won a Kent Lions Club scholarship for their commitment to selflessly serving their community.
Jennifer Coffee and Garrett Slippy, who both will attend Kent State University in the fall, were each awarded the Lions Club’s John Ferlito Memorial Scholarship. The scholarships normally are announced at an awards ceremony in the high school auditorium a few weeks before commencement.
But for the Class of 2020, “normal” didn’t happen due to the global pandemic, Covid-19. So several Kent Lions surprised the students one evening with a driveway visit and certificate presentation. Each student was awarded a $500 scholarship commemorating Ferlito, who was Kent’s health commissioner for a quarter-century and was with the health department for 39 years. Ferlito died in 2017.
The Ferlito Scholarship recognizes one female and one male graduating senior “who has demonstrated outstanding service in the community and volunteering,” which can include school or church organizations, Scouting or their wider community.
Jenny Coffee, the daughter of Jeff and Julie Coffee, has spent invaluable time helping with the Lions’ annual Sweet Corn Festival and Pancake Breakfast since her middle school days. She also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House and has given of her time to the Special Olympics and to helping preschoolers learn in Safety School.
Garrett Slippy, the son of Fred and Rachel Slippy, has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and, as part of Scouting, volunteered in a variety of service projects for Kent Social Services, the Kent Garden Club and taken leadership roles in youth baseball camps and clinics.
Coffee and Slippy were chosen from among 20 highly qualified young applicants. They were selected after submitting high school transcripts, letters of reference, other paperwork and, finally, an interview with a committee of Lions Club members. Slippy intends to study aeronautical engineering. Coffee is uncertain of her major.
The Sweet Corn Festival, usually held in early August at Beckwith Orchard, has been scratched because of the pandemic. Proceeds from the festival finance nearly half the Lions’ service efforts, including conducting about 2,500 vision screenings per year for Kent schoolchildren from kindergarten through 12th grade, providing vouchers for eye exams and glasses for those unable to afford them, sponsoring a seeing-eye dog and subsidizing eye surgeries and research. Instead of a 13th annual corn festival, the Club is conducting a 50/50 raffle. A drawing will be held in August.
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