Just before Extra Special People’s first round of summer camps began, the Oconee-based M & K Foundation gave the nonprofit a $4,000 boost to help more campers attend.
M & K President Jeff Hackleman said donating to the group fits into the foundation’s overall mission of fostering scholarship, leadership and service.
“ESP has such an important role in our county for youth development in students with special needs. We recognize that, and we want to make camp an option for families of children,” he said. “It gives them encouragement in being in the midst of kids doing other special things.”
For over 30 years, the M & K Foundation has annually invested thousands of dollars into local students to help them reach their full potential. It was started in memory of two women, Karen Nasworthy and Melissa Anne Norris. They died during car accidents six weeks apart from each other in the summer of 1983, according to the foundation’s website.
During that time, Nasworthy’s husband was the outgoing president of Rotary Club of Oconee County. Norris’ father, Don, was the incoming president. The foundation was started in the following year, keeping the mission of both women’s passion for young people in mind.
Foundation directors chose to raise money to support students from Oconee County High School. One of its first $1,000 scholarship recipients in 1985 was Board of Commissioners John Daniell, who was a graduating senior that year. Daniell is also now the vice president of the foundation.
In 2004, scholarship opportunities were expanded to students at the new North Oconee High School. Four years later, the foundation began offering money to help students access more leadership training through summer development camps.
Now, the foundation gives $1,000 scholarships to four graduating seniors from each of the public high schools. Recipients are selected by a faculty committee at their school. Oconee 4-H’ers and FFA members receive $1,000 scholarships.
This year, the FFA chapters at Oconee County Middle and High schools were given funds for their on-campus summer camps.
Since its inception, the foundation has provided more than $214,000 in college and leadership scholarships to over 260 students. Students received $14,000 in scholarships in 2021.
“We’re happy to be a part of things grassrooted in Oconee County,” Hackleman said.