There is no salve for the loss of a child or easy answers for the opioid epidemic, but there are people who care enough to try to chart a different course for another student.
The Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of Board President John Golden believes this to be true. Several circumstances led John to want the Chamber to get behind a vocational scholarship. His fellow Chamber board member, Brad Hunter and wife Shauna, had just lost their 17-year old son, Mason, to an accidental overdose from first-time experimentation. They talked about Mason’s dreams for the future — how he loved to cook and spoke of becoming a chef one day, or possibly pursuing a career in the military or law enforcement. Brad and John talked about a lasting legacy in Mason’s name.
As John and others grieved for the family’s loss, he thought about his own career path and the blessing of a vocational training opportunity when college did not seem appealing. He also considered the percentage of high school students who graduate without a career plan and the number of local employers struggling to find skilled trades workers as their workforce begins to near retirement. John felt he could make a difference in his role as a Chamber Board President and formed a scholarship committee to explore options. The Chamber partnered with the Clemmons Community Foundation to take a look at creating a vocational scholarship for students who may not be interested or ready for college, but need a skill certification to secure a career that offers a living wage and hope for the future. The committee led by Chamber board member Michael McGilvary of Marzano Capital Group, deliberated for several months to design and seed with an initial gift its first scholarship, The Mason H. Hunter Vocational Education Scholarship named in memory of the Hunters’ son.
This is no ordinary scholarship award. Student recipients will not only receive funding to pay for tuition, books, tools, and uniforms, they will also be partnered with a business mentor who will guide the student’s path to career through encouragement and career coaching, along with introductions to opportunities for internships and employment. The Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce is just starting its campaign to fund and endow this scholarship, so that it is available every year going forward.
Brad Hunter, Mason’s father commented, “Every day without Mason is difficult, yet our family is encouraged, comforted and strengthened knowing that Mason’s name is attached to a bright future for many other students. We are so moved by the care of this community that they would honor our family and remember Mason in this way.”