Apple Education Foundation honors CMI for supporting its programs, students
The Washington Apple Education Foundation is in my view doing an extraordinary job of creating educational growth opportunities for the children of workers who otherwise would find it daunting to pursue higher education.
The industry deserves kudos for putting at least a million dollars a year into scholarships. But that’s just the beginning. The real value of the Washington Apple Education Foundation is the great lengths that the staff and industry members go to encourage, support and mentor those who get scholarships. The money given is nice, but I think that the other support is more powerful. For families without a background in higher education, as is the case with the vast majority of farm workers, the outside support creates opportunities for success in their personal and professional lives.
It’s all fine and good to talk about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but programs like this encourage greater equity of opportunity and that’s what we need more of in this society. There are lots of folks who don’t bootstraps to try to pull themselves up with.
Jennifer Witherbee, the executive director of WAEF, and her staff have created a collaborative approach that inspires and encourages companies to offer internships, provide mentors, contribute to student care packages and assist the program in innumerable other ways.
Recently, the foundation honored CMI Orchards as its Volunteer Organization of the Year, in recognition of the effort by the leadership and the workers at the fruit company to support the foundation. Fifteen CMI employees have donated volunteer hours this year.
“The desire to make a difference is evident throughout the company,” said Chris Willett, chair of the WAEF board of directors. “The genuine commitment of CMI employees that take time to connect with students, help with events and serve on foundation committees is inspiring. Our thanks to the individuals that volunteered this year and to the company for encouraging their involvement.”
“It is our honor to provide as much support as possible towards our industry’s leading charitable organization and champion students through advanced educational opportunities,” said Bob Mast, the president of CMI.
The foundation relies on nearly 200 volunteers annually. Volunteers provide valuable outreach and support to the foundation’s scholarship recipients, assist with fundraising events, select annual recipients of the foundation’s scholarships, provide direction on governance committees, and other important functions, according to Witherbee.
Established in 1994, the Washington Apple Education Foundation is the charitable organization of the tree fruit industry. Its mission is to impact lives through access to educational opportunities. Annually WAEF awards over $1 million in scholarships to kids raised in tree fruit industry families. Funding for the Foundation is generated through annual contributions made by members and supporters of Washington’s tree fruit industry. For more information on WAEF visit, www.waef.org.
CMI Orchards is one of the largest growers, packers, and shippers of premium Washington State apples, pears, and cherries. For more information on CMI Orchards, visit www.cmiorchards.com.
I think the Washington Apple Education Foundation is a gem of a program that is changing the lives of countless individuals who otherwise have tremendous barriers to overcome in access to higher education.
Here’s a tip of the hat to Bob Mast and the staff at CMI Orchards for their contributions.