Family helps create legacy for son with scholarship
Written by TechPurdue // February 27, 2012 // Admitted Students, Alumni & Friends, Building Construction Management, Business & Industry, Current Students, Faculty & Staff, Latest College News // No comments
“Think big, Charla.”
Those words from a Purdue development officer helped Charla Benner establish an endowed scholarship fund in memory of her son. The first George A. Benner Scholarship in building construction management (BCM) was awarded in the fall of 2010, just three years after he died tragically at the age of 35. He was a 1996 graduate of the BCM program.
Charla Benner originally hoped to use the $2,000 she received as memorial donations for a local scholarship. Linda Yelton, a development officer for Purdue’s School of Pharmacy, where Benner also worked, helped her see the potential of an endowed and sustaining scholarship fund.
“I’m just amazed we actually reached our goal in a little over three years,” Benner said. “We sent letters to people we knew, George’s classmates, people that he worked with. We asked family and friends. I was surprised that it came together as well as it did.”
The Benners’ network of friends, family and other contacts helped, as did George’s reputation as a helper. The oldest of six children, he was often volunteering or being asked for help. He often coerced his siblings into helping as well. Charla says George volunteered at the local soup kitchen every Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“He was always willing to help others, and this scholarship is one way he can continue to give back and help others,” she said.
Another lesson Charla learned from establishing the scholarship is this: people are willing to help, you just have to ask. And the multitudes of gifts, at all levels, added up to more than $20,000, enough to offer a scholarship in 2010. When she worked at the School of Pharmacy, she asked that her small donation be taken out of each paycheck. It wasn’t much, she said, but it was what she was able to afford to help make the scholarship a reality.
She also found out that some of her friends were able to have their donations matched by their employers, which helped the overall fundraising goal.
Charla enjoys hearing from and about the students who receive the scholarship named for her son. The 2011 recipient, Michael Mattern, is from near the Benners’ hometown and he lives in the same campus co-op that George’s brothers lived in. Those connections make the scholarship even more special for her.
Find out how support like Charla Benner’s can affect the life of a current student. Read how building construction management student Sam Rymer’s scholarship has helped him focus on academic and extracurricular successes.