The College of Southern Maryland Foundation recently partnered with a local family that wanted to honor its family matriarch in a special way.
The children and grandchildren of Eleanor Loretta Alvey, 81, of Mechanicsville and her late husband, Carroll Louis “Johnny” Alvey Sr., gathered at CSM’s Leonardtown campus to publicly recognize the couple’s contributions to the community and their commitment to CSM’s mission as the family members and college and foundation representatives dedicated two bricks in a ceremony.
But the Alvey family had a surprise set up to further honor Loretta Alvey, who has inspired the family, worked for it and held it together since their father’s death in 1984 when he was only 52. The family announced at the brick ceremony that a CSM scholarship had been created in their mother’s name — the Eleanor Loretta Alvey Endowed Scholarship, according to a release from the college.
“We could think of no better way to not only honor you now, but to remind our children and their children, and future little Alveys of how you are loved and appreciated,” said Johnny Alvey Jr. of Clements at the ceremony. “To highlight your tenacity and devotion and to remind them that if you can do all the things you have done under difficult circumstances, then they can certainly overcome whatever obstacles they have in their way as well.”
The scholarship, donated by the Alvey family — Alvey Jr., Terry Sue Alvey, Bonnie Joe Payne, William Roger Alvey Sr., Marlon Rodney Alvey and Roxanne Loretta Keeting — is designed to provide at least $1,000 a year to a deserving returning student who lives in St. Mary’s County and has at least one child at home. The intent is to find a student whose current situation closely mimicked Loretta Alvey’s situation while she was trying to complete her own education.
The new scholarship’s first recipient, Shekera Grayson, of Lexington Park, was also announced at the brick ceremony. Grayson is a business major at CSM who plans to pursue a management career, preferably at a medical facility, with hopes of helping medical organizations give effective and efficient care to its patients. She is a single parent of four children and will graduate in January 2020.
“If you met Loretta Alvey, you would believe there are more than 24 hours in a day,” CSM President Maureen Murphy said at the brick ceremony. “As is true for many people, hers was not an easy path. She needed to leave high school after 10th grade, but she managed to earn her GED and then went on to earn her associate degree in Medical Secretarial Science from then-Charles County Community College in 1983 while raising six children. She got them off to school in the morning, put in a full day’s work outside the home, went to school at night and did homework on nights and weekends.
According to her children, Loretta Alvey never once complained, Murphy said, noting that he woman’s perseverance showed her children and grandchildren they could do anything if they worked for it.
Loretta Alvey was “stunned … and then deeply appreciative” of her children’s gift to honor her, Johnny Alvey Jr. said, describing her reaction a few weeks later.
“Mom is always helping her family but never lets us do anything for her,” he said. “She is extremely independent and self-supporting. We wanted to do something for her to show our love and respect, but knew that the only way she would be accepting is if the gift were actually helping someone else. Having this scholarship go to some deserving student, in Mom’s name, seemed like an ideal way of showing our love and respect, acknowledging how hard it was for her to complete her degree and to help someone else who is in circumstances similar to hers when she was going to college. Mom has an appreciation for how hard it is raising a family while completing your education can be.”
During the brick dedication ceremony, it was noted that Johnny Alvey Sr. served in the United States Army and then returned to work as a driver for Leonardtown Dairy. He worked hard to advance from driver to businessman, serving the tri-county area as a Sealtest Distributor — a business that his son Billy continues to grow after his passing.
CSM supports and recognizes “how we create community together, each of us playing a part,” Murphy said before dedicating the brick to Johnny Alvey Sr.’s memory.
“We’d like to thank the College of Southern Maryland for their support, the CSM Foundation for their great work, and especially [CSM Director of Development] Chelsea Clute for painstakingly guiding us through this process,” said Johnny Alvey Jr.
Bricks are purchased through the CSM Foundation by family members and friends and the proceeds go toward the foundation’s general scholarship fund to assist CSM students. The Alveys’ bricks will be installed next to each other outside of the Wellness & Aquatics Center at the Leonardtown campus.
Annual scholarships can be established with the CSM Foundation with a minimum gift of $1,000 to help part-time students or at $3,200 for full-time students. Unlike an endowed scholarship, an annual scholarship is not a permanent fund and is awarded in the subsequent academic year that the funds are donated. Endowed Scholarships like the Eleanor Loretta Alvey Endowed Scholarship can be established with a minimum gift of $15,000. Endowed scholarship funds are designed to be permanent and perpetual. Those interested can contribute to an endowed scholarship in full when the scholarship is set up or with an initial commitment that is contributed to over time.
The Alvey family was “absolutely thrilled and proud of being able to do this in her name,” Johnny Alvey Jr. said of his mother’s scholarship.
He noted that the scholarship required a notable financial commitment from the family. “But it is small compared to what our mother has sacrificed for us over the years,” he said. “To be able to help some deserving students, every year, in our mother’s name, is a win-win-win for Mom, her family and the student who gets the scholarship.”
To establish a scholarship or to get more information, contact CSM Development Director Chelsea Clute at 301-934-7649 or email CSMFoundation@csmd.edu.