Madison Pittman (center) received the 2016 R.D. Bennett Community Service Scholarship at an Aug. 31 award presentation at Faith Christian School in Summerville. With her are (left to right) parents Steve and Mary Alice Pittman, Van O’Cain of ECSC, and Rita Worthy and Eleanor Gillins of Berkeley Electric Cooperative.
Photo by Micah Ponce, Berkeley Electric Cooperative
Madison Pittman suspected something was up when she spied her family and her Washington Youth Tour advisor in the crowd at her school assembly. Soon after, she got a “huge, awesome” surprise—she was awarded the 2016 R.D. Bennett Community Service Scholarship presented by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
Pittman, a 17-year-old senior at Faith Christian School in Summerville, was chosen to receive the $5,000 award on the basis of a project she designed and implemented— 5K 4 Kids, a community road race that raised $2,000 for pediatric care at Summerville Medical Center and MUSC Children’s Hospital.
“The judges were amazed with what Madison put together in just a few short months,” says Van O’Cain, director of public and member relations with ECSC. As one contest judge wrote, “You have embodied what this program is all about—showing leadership while helping out in the community.”
Pittman, the daughter of Steve and Mary Alice Pittman of Berkeley Electric Cooperative, plans to major in pre-med at Liberty University in Virginia and pursue a career in pediatric anesthesiology. Her project was a natural fit with her interest in sports and her volunteer work at Summerville Medical Center.
Although the work involved in planning and staging her July 30 5K was more than she had anticipated, Pittman says she was excited to see the community support it garnered, including attracting a group of participants from the nationwide nonprofit Ainsley’s Angels, which pairs special-needs athlete-riders with runners who push them in wheeled vehicles in road races like Pittman’s.
“I think this is a really good opportunity for people to get out in our communities and do good stuff,” Pittman says of the scholarship competition. “Make it something you’re passionate about, because it makes all your hard work more meaningful at the end.”
The competition is open to S.C. students who attend the annual Washington Youth Tour, which sends rising high school seniors to the nation’s capital for a week of learning about co-ops and government. The award recognizes a student whose service project best exemplifies the cooperative principle of “concern for community.”
The scholarship is named for Robert D. Bennett, the first general manager and executive vice president of ECSC. Bennett, who led the state association from 1950 until his retirement in 1980, strongly believed that electric cooperatives should support their local communities—providing a better quality of life for their members.
2016 Washington Youth Tour service projects
Ashley Addison, Tri-County Electric Cooperative
Children’s Health Fair: Organized event to educate local youth about health issues and provide free screenings
Erin Bedenbaugh, Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative
Little Free Library: Promoted literacy through neighborhood mini libraries in old newspaper-vending boxes
Emily Cleveland, Aiken Electric Cooperative
The Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive: Collected new pajamas and books to distribute to children in the community
Marcus Crawford, Pee Dee Electric Cooperative
Clean Drive 4 a Strive: Collected cleaning supplies and toiletries to benefit Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Assault
Taylor Gordon, Aiken Electric Cooperative
Backpacks for Students: Distributed donated backpacks to students in the community
Katie Minichan, Aiken Electric Cooperative
Swimming Lessons Scholarship Fundraiser: Hosted bake sale and car wash to raise funds for swim lessons for children in need
Madison Pittman, Berkeley Electric Cooperative
5K 4 Kids: Organized 5K race to raise funds for Summerville Medical Center and MUSC Children’s Hospital
Erin Roland, Tri-County Electric Cooperative
Math Mania Day: Coordinated fun math activities for kindergartners in Calhoun County
William Swicord, Santee Electric Cooperative
Grocery Bags for Kids: Delivered bags of food to children in need and underprivileged families in Williamsburg County
Taylor Thompson, Aiken Electric Cooperative
AP Chemistry Science Day: Showcased science projects for young chemistry students at local schools
Hunter Thorpe, Edisto Electric Cooperative
American Red Cross Blood Drive: Coordinated blood drive for residents of the St. George area
Jackson Tomaszewski, Palmetto Electric Cooperative
Technology Outreach Program: Created organization to encourage high school students to assist with technology outreach in local retirement communities