Foundation to honor scholarship founders

Seldom does a young man of 19 leave such a legacy that even community members who never met him know of his positive attitude, determination and ability to deal with challenges.

Jonathan Teuscher was that kind of person.

A scholarship created in his memory has supported more than 48 students since 2000 and the force behind that scholarship – Jonathan’s family and friends – will be honored this year by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation board of directors with its Friend of the Foundation award, which will be presented at the annual luncheon in July.

Committee members to be honored include Jonathan’s parents, Steve and Donna Teuscher of Portville; his brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Paula Teuscher of Cuba; his aunt, Kim Teuscher of Olean; and family friends, Gregg Prockton of Allegany, Dr. Colleen Taggerty of Olean, and Dave and Karen Todd of Portville.

Each year one graduating senior from Allegany-Limestone Central, Hinsdale Central, Olean High and Portville Central schools and Archbishop Walsh Academy receive an award from the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship at the foundation. Currently that amount is $625 per year for up to four years and total award of $2,500.

To date the fund has awarded more than $95,000 for students to pursue higher education.

“The inspiration to start the scholarship came from Jonathan,” Mr. Teuscher said.  “He felt that life was about helping others.”

Although he was born premature and diagnosed early with cerebral palsy, Jonathan didn’t let his physical limitations hinder his pursuits. A 1998 graduate of Portville Central School, he was a member of the school’s football and track teams. He loved fishing, hunting and the outdoors.

Jonathan worked at Tops in Olean and was pursuing a degree in marketing and management at St. Bonaventure University when he died in an automobile accident Dec. 12, 1999.

His family and friends remember him for his constant smile, his desire to help and his ability to inspire others to do their best, having led by example.

“Jon was a delightful young man,” noted Larry Sorokes, CRCF board member. “I met him while he was in high school. He was in a business program at BOCES when I ran the Little Apple Enterprises business through BOCES. Jon was a really nice, quiet kid who rarely said much. But when it came time to start writing descriptions of our products for marketing, advertising, and sales brochures, he emerged as an incredibly talented writer!  He really came into his own from that point.

“Jon was disabled, but it never defined him or held him back,” Mr. Sorokes continued. “I was happy to see how the community embraced the family when they developed a plan to honor Jon’s memory with the scholarship.”

“Jonathan’s actions in life spoke volumes about what a role model should be,” said David Todd, Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship committee member and Jonathan’s youth football coach. “He was a living example that ‘life is about helping others,’ a statement that has made its way into the criteria of scholarship eligibility.

“His selfless attitude, his perpetual smile, his love of life and his magnetism will insist that he is remembered as a giant among men of this community,” Mr. Todd added. “No exaggeration. Jonathan didn’t make any big deal about overcoming adversity, though that’s exactly what he did. He simply ignored his shortcomings.”

It was Jonathan’s unfailing positive attitude that inspired community members to help remember him through a scholarship fund.

According to Mr. Teuscher, the scholarship committee and volunteers organized a series of five annual fundraising events in order to grow the fund beginning in July 2000. Through these events, the committee raised more than $60,000.

“One policy that we had for all the fundraisers was that every dollar that was raised went to the scholarship – all expenses, including hall rentals, food, beverages, etc., were either donated or paid for by the scholarship committee and the community,” noted Mr. Teuscher. “Our community was very generous and for that we’re still thankful.”

As well as organizing fundraisers, the committee helped to select scholarship recipients nominated by their schools and held awards presentations for the recipients.

“The presentations, review of the recommended recipients and the fundraisers provided an opportunity to meet and understand the recipients and get to know them better,” Mr. Teuscher said. “We felt this personal contact was an important part of the scholarship.”

“The Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship has made a world of difference for so many young people in our community since it was founded in 2000,” said Carol Stitt, Community Foundation board president. “Jonathan’s memory lives on through the dozens of students who have received, and who continue to receive, awards from this fund.”

“On behalf of the board of directors I’m pleased the Community Foundation will recognize Mr. and Mrs. Teuscher and members of the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship committee for their extraordinary commitment to our community’s students at this year’s Friends of the Foundation Luncheon,” Mrs. Stitt added.

“Their fund has given hope to so many students, some of whom otherwise may not have been able to attend college,” said Karen Niemic Buchheit, CRCF Executive Director. “They specifically stated in their award guidelines that recipients do not have to be top scholars, but they should, like Jonathan, demonstrate that they’ve done everything to the best of their ability even in the face of adversity.”

Mr. Teuscher said the committee developed the scholarship criteria to reflect Jonathan’s spirit. Candidates should, among other qualities, have faced challenges while maintaining a positive attitude, done their best to keep a smile on their face and to make others smile and through their quiet determination have inspired others to do their best.

More information on the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship criteria is available at www.cattfoundation.org/scholarships.

Established in 1995, The Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in our region. Grants from the foundation support many areas including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service and youth development. To learn more, call, email or visit us online at www.cattfoundation.org

For more information, contact the Community Foundation at (716) 372-4433 or email foundation@cattfoundation.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cattfoundation.

Related: Foundation celebrates donors, honors students at annual luncheon

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