The Corporation Scholarship Committee selects students to receive scholarships.
The corporation established its first scholarship in 1993 with the award of a $2,000 grant ($500 a year for four years) to a high school senior. The program remained at this level through 1997. From this point on donations permitted increasing the number and value of the annual grants. Generous donors have raised the top scholarships to $12,000 with others ranging from $2,000 to $8,000. Significant legacy gifts have permitted the corporation to increase the total grants to seventeen. To date, over $1 Million have been awarded in scholarship grants.
Major General Joseph D. and Christine F. Caldara Scholarship
General Caldara’s nickname was “Smokey” and this was the most common way he was addressed by all his friends at Freedom Plaza. He earned that moniker in Flight School when he led his student flight of open cockpit pursuit planes under high-tension wires and was caught by his instructor. Threatened with “Washout Board” proceedings, he eventually worked his way back into the good graces of his instructors, but not before they dubbed him “Smokey.” It stuck. Unfortunately, he went home to be with the Lord in 1996.
When Chris decided to initiate a scholarship in their names, she said that “Smokey” had always wanted four children while she had zeroed in on three. That wasn’t the way it was to be as they were never able to have children. Of course, having spent so many years in the military, it was only natural that they consider a legacy gift to a veterans’ organization and that young people should be a significant part of their focus. It has been said many times that the military takes care of its’ own and their generosity is a wonderful example of this principle.
Their legacy will benefit hundreds of students in future years. No one knows the future impact of their gift, but all the talented young people receiving their grants will have an opportunity they may have not had otherwise. Perhaps one will be a president someday.
Lucille Purviance Memorial Scholarship
Lucille came to Freedom Plaza in 1997 following the death of her husband. She had been a Navy wife and loved the service. She immediately began supporting the activities of the MFST financially and by volunteering weekly. At the time, the corporation was small and did not have a permanent Secretary or Administrative Assistant on staff, so Lucille found herself in the office regularly answering calls, assembling mailouts, delivering notices throughout Freedom Plaza and being a delightful face of the corporation as visitors came to the office. When the corporation elected to support the Homeless Women Veterans of Hillsborough by establishing a $100,000 endowment fund for this purpose, Lucille was the first to step forward with a $5,000 contribution to get it started. Although she made no stipulations as to the use of her legacy gift in her will, her donation was very significant and an unanticipated blessing to the corporation. As a result, the Board of Trustees has elected to initiate a Memorial Scholarship in her honor while completing the Homeless Women Veterans Fund. Lucille will long be remembered for her kindness, grace and love of the military men and women she encountered. Young men and women will be blessed each year as her scholarship enhances their lives.
The Grezaffi Scholarship
The LTC Joseph Grezaffi Memorial Scholarship was established by the Board of Trustees and his widow shortly after his death in January 1996. Joe had been Chairman and President of the MFST from its inception on 24 August 1992. He was an outstanding person whose dedication to the MFST and its purposes did much to bring it to fruition.
Joe loved to be involved with young people. He gave of his time, talent, and resources that they might have better lives. He worked closely with them throughout his military career and knew from first hand experience what encouragement and a helping hand could do to make them better citizens and stimulate their success along the road of life. Scholarships provided a means to this end, and he saw that grants were made as soon as possible after the corporation began operating. With his scholarship, Joe's legacy is not only one of memories, but also one of assisting many high school seniors for generations to come in their quest to obtain a college education.
The Cowan Scholarship
The Coy and Winifred Cowan Scholarship was established on 14 December 1999 in recognition of their interest in education and their very meaningful financial support of the corporation. The first award was presented in April 2000.
Coy left the farm and enlisted in the Army Air Corps long before it was fashionable. Becoming an officer, he retired as an Air Force Colonel twenty six years later. He and Winifred met in Tampa, and were married shortly thereafter. They had a wonderful life together. Retirement and interest in their church resulted in a series of events which found them being "drafted" to accompany the youth group to North Carolina, to teach a childrens' Sunday School class for a number of years, and to support the United Methodist Children's Home in Enterprise, Florida. They were "drafted" once again when the MFST Board of Trustees named a scholarship in their honor. When Coy was asked why he and Winifred have done what they have in behalf of young people, he responded very simply, "We never had any children and the time came when we were financially able and could help."
The Lissa Scholarship
On 27 June 2000, the Charles and Sylvia Lissa Scholarship was established in recognition, honor of, and grateful appreciation for their great interest in education and their very meaningful financial support. Sylvia was very thankful for those who so willingly enhanced her life through a scholarship, and reached out in the same manner to help young people today. The initial award was made in April 2001.
The Keyser Scholarship
The Clayton and Lily Keyser scholarship was established in June 2002 as a result of Mrs. Keyser's wonderful financial support. The first such grant was presented to a selected student in April 2003.
Clayton and Lily Keyser moved to Freedom Plaza, Sun City Center, Florida in 1992. They had married in 1975 after being introduced by mutual friends. Clayton was a retired independent insurance agent and Lily had retired as a Personnel Director for a chain of department stores in the Great Lakes Area. Clayton especially enjoyed being a member of the Freedom Plaza Investment Club. He had become an expert in this field and shared his knowledge with his fellow members. He passed away in June 1999. The Retired Officers Corporation and the MFST offices were very helpful to Lily during this time even though Clayton was not a veteran. Lily had always had a philanthropic heart and showed her appreciation by financially supporting MFST charitable activities. Her primary interest was in education and in 2002 her family suggested that she provide the funds to initiate a scholarship in Clayton's memory and her honor. The Board of Trustees responded by approving the establishment of the "Clayton and Lily Keyser Scholarship" and designating that it be awarded in their names.
The Ferguson Scholarship
Through her 28 years of service as an Army nurse, Phyllis saw how the Army took great pride in caring for their own. This was very evident in the medical department where she had numerous contacts with soldiers and their families, often in stressful circumstances. The army became her family. By making it easier for children of the military to attain a better education, Phyllis feels she can help them enrich their lives and carry on the traditions which had inspired their parents to serve and sacrifice for their country.
Retired Officers Corporation Scholarship
The Retired Officers Corporation (ROC) has been a continuous and faithful contributor to the MFST. At one point it provided 80% of the cumulative corporate funds received by the MFST. In 2003, the ROC Board of Directors decided to initiate a scholarship in the name of the corporation. This fit nicely with the charitable activities of the ROC. Educating the young future leaders of our country has always been a prime reason for supporting such charities as the MFST. The Board of Trustees is extremely grateful for the thoughtful, meaningful and generous support provided by this wonderful organization.
Dr. Howard & Mary Leary Scholarship
Mary and Howard always had a keen interest in seeing that young people were able to attain their true potential in society. Having had successful careers themselves, sharing with less fortunate families having talented, dedicated children with leadership potential became an important part of their lives. Over the years they have followed this course wherever they have settled. The MFST is very appreciative of its selection as the recipient of funds for a named scholarship in their behalf.
Helene and Bert Ison Scholarship
After high school both Helene and Bert were immediately employed. Bert worked in his dad’s Harley-Davidson Motorcycle business while Helene joined an employment services agency in New York City. WWII found Bert in the Army Air corps as an officer. Following the war, his father sold the motorcycle business and Bert became a commercial builder in Connecticut. As a result of their situations, both he and Helene found that they had to struggle to educate themselves. Over the years it became apparent that a college education would have been preferable. Having no children of their own, they elected to initiate a scholarship to assist high school seniors to acquire the education they missed. Their gratitude for the blessings they received over a lifetime will now bless young individuals into the future.
George and Mimi Frank Scholarship
George and Mimi Frank are long time residents of Freedom Plaza, Sun City Center, Florida. They are aware of the story as to how this facility came into being through the tireless efforts of a group of retired military officers living in the greater Tampa, Florida area. It just happened that Freedom Plaza came to fruition at a time of need in George's life. Thus it was that the Frank's could take advantage of Freedom Plaza living, and they have always been very thankful and grateful to those who gave of their time and energy to see it come to life. At the same time, Mimi has expressed a deep gratitude for the men and women who have given so much in defense of our liberty and freedom. While neither she nor George served in the military, they wanted to do something to benefit military families now and into the future. They had always been interested in youth and education. The Military Family Support Trust (MFST) provided them with the means to graciously satisfy all their desires through it's high school scholarship grant program. As a consequence, they elected to provide a named scholarship on an annual basis to a student selected by the MFST Scholarship Committee beginning in the spring of 2007.
COL Barbara D. Gray and LTC Helen E. Price
Barbara and Helen came to Freedom Plaza in August 1997. Both had long and distinguished military careers, Barbara as a USAF and U.S. Army Physical Therapist for 27 years from Tennessee and Helen as a U.S. Army Dietitian for 20 years from Indiana. In addition to her eleven varied Physical Therapist assignments in the U.S., Barbara's career and sports interest resulted in a number of notable firsts: the Army's first woman skydiver to make a free-fall parachute jump, the first woman to qualify and win a spot on the U.S. Parachute Team, the first woman to be awarded the Vietnam Special forces Parachute Wings, and the first, and only, Physical Therapist Army Medical Specialist Corps officer to be assigned to Vietnam from 1966-1967. As a dietitian, Helen served at six hospitals in the U.S. and had overseas tours at hospitals in Germany, Okinawa and Korea. Having known one another since they had a mutual tour at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas in 1953, it wasn't hard for them to team up upon retirement for a season of travel in Mexico, Canada and all across the U.S.. Fishing was their hobby and Key Largo their last focus before arriving at Freedom Plaza. When one asks about the impetus for their scholarship, the answer is quite succinct. Not only did they sincerely enjoy their military careers and all the advantages they received from the military over the years but the U.S. Army permitted them both to obtain Masters degrees in their areas of interest. This generosity, when coupled with the countless wonderful adventures and friends they encountered over the years, gave way to an ever increasing desire on their parts to give back to the military families of those they had come to admire so greatly. Of course, the Army is known for taking care of its' own and when you live with that philosophy long enough, it is only natural that your focus should turn to the military when the subject of philanthropy is raised. Finally, helping your men and women achieve their educational goals becomes a lasting legacy that provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment and fulfillment on the part of the provider. Thanks ladies, your generosity touches many lives!
Initiated as a military officer based organization, the eligibility criteria has been revised in recent years. The direct ancestor's or legal guardian's military service must have a rank of E-5 (Non-commissioned Officer) and above or comparable grade in a military or federal service office. This rank requirement is waived in the case of Purple Heart recipients or those who died while on active duty. More specific explanation of this requirement is given on page one of the application.