Stephanie’s so well-known in the Salem community that many people who know her just call her Aunt Steph. When her two sons, Dionetai and Dione, were attending and playing sports at Salem High School, she was always making cupcakes and planning events. They both graduated years ago, but she is still doing all she can to support her hometown.
“If there’s something to do out there for my community, I want to get involved,” she said. “I don’t worry about how much time it takes. I don’t mind if it’s raining or storming. If I can help, I’m on it.”
Lately, that has meant going door-to-door and telling other parents with school-aged children about the Acorn Fund, a program from the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation that gives any child living or attending public school in Salem City money for college. We now have more than 600 Salem students signed up, and Stephanie is a major reason for that.
“I feel so many people from this community think they can’t go to college,” she said. “All they have to do to take advantage of this money is sign up.”
The Acorn Fund is made possible by the remarkable generosity of Dr. Forman S. Acton, a Salem resident, engineer, computer scientist and educator who left $30 million to help Salem’s youth when he passed away in 2014.
Stephanie has been so effective at signing up children for this program that she is now officially an outreach worker, paid through a grant to the United Way, so that she can continue making sure every eligible child receives the college savings money Dr. Acton intended for them to receive.
“Forman Acton did a wonderful thing for the children around here because he saw they had potential, too,” Stephanie said. “I just think it’s an awesome and amazing thing and we need to let people know about it.”