Farris Mitchell Scholarship
SHA’s Farris Mitchell Scholarship in its 24th year
Applications are now available for Springfield Housing Authority’s Farris Mitchell Scholarship, named in honor of the late public housing resident who had a passion for convincing young people to stay in school, and go to college.
The SHA awards $1,000 scholarships every spring to two Springfield graduating high school seniors who are headed to college and who either live in public housing or Section 8 subsidized apartments that are administered by the authority.
SHA Executive Director Denise Jordan urged any and all qualified high school seniors headed for college to apply. Deadline is May 1.
“This is just one of our efforts to help our youth to grow and prosper, and to gain education and independence,” she said. “We know that for the students who win the scholarship and their families, it means a great deal.”
The scholarship began in 1996 as a family endeavor shortly after Farris Mitchell died of cancer, as a way to remember the man and honor his steadfast commitment to youth and education. The SHA began providing funding and resources in 2011.
Since the very beginning, 28 young men and women have received the scholarship, most of them going to local colleges but some going as far away as Virginia and Boston. To a one, they agree that the funding helped offset costs such as books and transportation, and that it made them feel a sense of recognition and accomplishment.
Last year’s winner was Alexandra Curet, who is in her freshman year at Holyoke Community College, studying early childhood education. She is the second recipient in her family, following her sister Kassandra Curet’s award in 2014. Both graduated from the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy.
Alexandra said she was especially appreciative to be the second recipient in her own family.
“I know how much it meant to my sister to have this help at the beginning of her college. I know how much it’s going to help me,” she said when receiving the award..
The scholarships are administered by SHA, with heavy input from the oldest of Farris and Julia Mitchell’s 10 children – Jimmie Mitchell, a retired dean at Putnam who now works as Youth Engagement Coordinator at the SHA.
“My whole family, including our mother, we’re all so grateful for this,” Mitchell said. “It means so much that we can remember our Dad by helping other kids do good things with their lives. It’s exactly what he would have wanted.”
Both Farris and Julia Mitchell grew up in Georgia, Farris leaving school after completing the third grade and Julia, the eighth grade, due to family situations. They later married and came to Springfield, living for many years at SHA’s Riverview Apartments.
For many years, Farris Mitchell worked as a security guard at for SHA, getting to know his neighbors at Riverview and always stressing to youth the importance of doing well and staying in school. In his own household, all 10 children finished high school and seven, including Jimmie Mitchell, went on to college.
“Everybody knew Mr. Mitchell, they depended on him,” said Jimmie Mitchell. “A lot of the parents were single parents; the kids didn’t have a dad at home. He was a mentor to them, and he always stressed education.”
Now, he said, the family is happy to be helping out people in the community who might not otherwise get it.
“We wanted to give back something to remember our Dad,” he said. “We feel like this helps people who really need it, and who can easily be forgotten.”
Mitchell helps distribute the scholarship applications each spring, delivering copies to every high school in the city and offering support and additional details as needed. He said
Scholarship applications are available at all Springfield school guidance offices, or by calling or emailing Jimmie Mitchell at 413-519-6631 JMitchell@shamass.org.
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