Medina woman has been committed to scholarship fund for 30 years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 9 June 2021 at 1:28 pm

Eileen McElwain helped start the Dollars for Scholars

Eileen McElwain

ALBION – Failing health and being on oxygen hasn’t prevented Eileen McElwain of Medina from promoting a cause very dear to her heart.

McElwain, 78, spoke from her bed at Supportive Care of Orleans County (Hospice) on Tuesday to talk about the Medina Scholarship Fund, formerly Dollars for Scholars, which she started in Medina 30 years ago.

McElwain was working at Medina Savings and Loan, where she was the first woman to hold the office and retire as vice president/secretary of the banking institution, when she was asked to become involved in Dollars from Scholars.

“School superintendent Dr. Gee had gotten the information in the mail on Dollars for Scholars and instructed high school principal Fred Snyder to get the program started,” McElwain said. “Roger Hungerford was on our first board, along with several of us from Medina Savings and Loan, including Sue Holland.”

McElwain retired from the Savings and Loan in 1996, after 22 years of employment.

At one point, former Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper came to McElwain and asked if she could help with the town’s financial record keeping.

“I was taking care of my mom at the time, but Skip said he could accommodate me and any hours I could work,” she said. “He did by giving me a key to the building so I could go in at my convenience. I got the books all in order and in 2000, Skip asked me if I would be interested in running for the position of councilman.”

She later became the first woman to be elected as a councilman for the town of Shelby. She changed her election signs by inserting “wo” into the “council-man” wording. She served her four-year term in 2000-2004, but wasn’t interested in running again, she said.

“I felt I worked much more comfortably on the other side of the bench,” she said.

McElwain was married to John McElwain, who passed away in 2012. He was a local electrician who was very active in the Medina Lions Club.

Through the years, Mrs. McElwain said the Dollars for Scholars program started to dwindle as board members dropped out.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I wondered if I should just keep going until the funds ran out, or what.”

The decision was made for her when in 2014 Dave Webster and Scott Schickling got it going again, and gave McElwain guidance and direction, she said.

Because of legal stipulations, a new name had to be given the program, and it became Medina Scholarship Fund.

Since then, the fund has given $6,000 annually in scholarships to Medina seniors.

Former Medina ophthalmologist Arthur Mruczek gave the fund a boost by donating money annually in memory of his daughter Marcy.

McElwain said to receive a scholarship students must write an essay and then the committee votes on the recipients. She said the names are blocked out so the committee doesn’t know who they are choosing. McElwain prefers giving it to a student based on their need.

“We have a wonderful board now, and this is a perfect time for me to turn over the reins to someone else,” McElwain said.

Current board members are President Lynn Woodruff and Kathy Iorio, Pat Bellucci, Diane Mazur, Karen Pane, Kathie Valley and Karen Pollard.

Donations may be sent to Medina Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 185, Medina. If in honor or in memory of someone, the name should be enclosed on a separate piece of paper.