by Alana J. Mauger
Four community organizations recently joined together to establish a scholarship through Montgomery County Community College’s Foundation in honor of the philanthropic contributions to the Pottstown region by the late Dr. Elmer Porter and his daughters, Martha and Mary.
The Porter Family Memorial Endowed Scholarship is generously funded by two churches and two community organizations: Brownback’s United Church of Christ in Spring City, First Presbyterian Church in Pottstown, the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation, and the YWCA Tri-County Area.
Each organization has donated $25,000, for a total of $100,000, to the scholarship, which will fund one full-tuition and one partial-tuition scholarship per year for students enrolled in medical or health-related degree programs at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown, Pa.
“This gift is really transformational for us on so many levels,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout, College. “It’s an investment in our community’s future. The number one barrier that prohibits students from starting or completing an associate’s degree is cost. However, we know that when a student completes his or her education, the impact is multi-generational because of the positive effect higher education has on individuals and their families.”
During the official signing of the scholarship deed, representatives from the funding organizations expressed their gratitude to the many contributions of the Porter family to the greater Pottstown region.
“We wanted to find something to honor the Porter Family for all that they gave back to the community,” said Rev. Cater Lester of First Presbyterian Church. “We also wanted to keep the funds in the community to continue what Doc Porter started so many years ago.”
At a time when the federal government is considering a 15 percent decrease in the maximum Pell Grant amount awarded to students who qualify for financial aid, community scholarships like this one are vital for many students to pursue higher education.
“The average family income of our students who receive Pell Grants is $13,000 per year,” said Dr. Stout. “It is our hope that gifts like the Porter Family Scholarship spark others to give, building momentum in the community.”
Doc Porter, as he was affectionately called, practiced medicine in Pottstown for 64 years. He sat on the board of directors and served as chief of surgery of Pottstown’s first hospital, which opened in 1893. He also served on the board of directors, and later as president, of Security Trust Company, and as president of Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Pottstown and board chairman for Mrs. Smith’s Pies. Porter served as Pottstown’s Burgess from 1903-1905, during which time he is credited with extending the town’s trolley service. He died in 1961 at the age of 96. His daughters, Martha and Mary, continued his philanthropic legacy until their deaths in 1983 and 2009, respectively.