Neighborhood owned Mattress Lot awarded its’ annual Dream Big scholarships to eight Eastside graduating seniors this past Spring. Four students earned $1000 scholarships and four students earned $500 toward their college educations. Mattress Lot scholars graduated from Grant, Cleveland, Franklin, Madison and Benson High Schools in June 2016. The highly competitive scholarship is based on academic and leadership experience as well as a short essay titled “My Best Nights’ Sleep”. The scholarship committee included teachers from each school, State Senator Mark Hass, P.S.U. Associate Vice-President Erin Flynn & Mercy Corps Development Officer Kaarin Smith.
Mattress Lot started its scholarship program in 2014. Since then Mattress Lot has awarded $11,500 in college scholarships to Eastside college bound graduates.
Here are excerpts from a conversation with Mattress Lot owners’ Michael & Mary Ruth Hanna:
Mattress Lot is known for community giving, why did you decide to award college scholarships?
We know the value of a college diploma and we understand how hard it is for families to help pay for college. We’ve been fortunate to be able to help our two children attend college, so scholarships made sense to us. We wanted to reward academic and leadership success and help families and students make it a little easier to afford college. We also see plenty of news coverage on the student debt crisis. We want to help make sure top students can graduate college with as little debt as possible.
What made you focus on the Eastside high schools that are part of the scholarship program?
Our business is based on the Eastside (NE 24th & Sandy Blvd), we live in Laurelhurst and our kids went to Grant High School. Our business is successful, thanks in large part to the support we receive from our neighbors. Our scholarship program is one way for us to give back to the community that’s supported our business over many years. Our children benefited from excellent educators at Laurelhurst Elementary, Da Vinci Arts Middle School and Grant High School. We believe that some of the best teachers in America are working in Portland Public Schools. It wasn’t always perfect, but our kids got terrific educations thanks to excellent teachers and a strong community commitment to our public schools.
What is the most rewarding part of the scholarship program for you and your committee?
We receive wonderful words of gratitude from many of the students. This year we received a note from a student who told us how she is the first person in her family to attend college (Oregon State) and how she plans to become a doctor and assist low-income women with their health needs. Last year we awarded a scholarship to a student who wrote about her mom dying of cancer and how much the scholarship helped her family make it through an especially tough time. The counselors at the schools all tell us that this money is making a big difference for the students, many of whom are trying to piece together enough money to make it through college. We are always floored by the quality of students who apply for this scholarship. It gives us faith in the future.