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New scholarship goes to teachers of disadvantaged children

Helen Laack, who endowed one of the newest Dordt College scholarships, doesn't consider herself a wealthy woman. But she does consider herself very blessed. Her daughter is alive and well after an intruder attempted to kill her five years ago while she was teaching in New Mexico.

"I wanted to celebrate and commemorate that her life was spared, says Laack. She describes the resulting scholarship she endowed as a way of thanking God but also helping prepare young teachers to teach disadvantaged children. The actual decision to fund the scholarship was the result of several things coming together following that incident.

"I had no direct connection to Dordt College, although my children had teachers who had graduated from Dordt, and I knew Dordt alums, she says. " As a member of the Christian Reformed Church she was also familiar with Dordt College.

"I met Dave Vander Werf and had read about Dordt grads going to inner city areas to help meet the needs of children. From my sense of the make up of Dordt's student body I decided that this was what I wanted to do," Laack says.

In her own life, people had helped her when she went to school, and she wanted to pass on that opportunity to someone else. Laack raised her three children as a single mother.

Laack's children are now grown, and she works as a manager in the auditing division of Prudential. Her children have supported her effort to set up the scholarship and contributed toward it. And, she says, her employer's matching gift program greatly helped her raise the funds needed for the scholarship. She encourages others to think about such a possibility.

"I'm not comfortable with 'God-told-me-to-do-this language'," she says, but she believes that God's grace works in peoples' lives to point out opportunities for response and service.

Designating the scholarship for teachers of disadvantaged children was a thoughtful choice.

"There are lots of scholarships for people in professions that make lots of money," she says. But the need for teachers is great and the debt load can be overwhelming on a teacher's salary.

"I hope that when these graduates reach a point where they can help someone else, they'll also consider how they can do that," she says.