The history of ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Scholarships
ExtraordinAIRy Treasures was launched in Central Indiana in 2009 as a community recognition program developed for Williams Comfort Air, a company specializing in heating, cooling and plumbing in the Greater Indianapolis area. (Yes, you read it correctly… a heating, cooling and plumbing company. So now you know why extraordinary is spelled with AIR.) The team at Williams Comfort Air wanted to increase their commitment to their community, and while there were many existing organizations to which they could contribute, they wanted to give back in a more locally–focused, unique and meaningful way. Team member Suzi Nichols presented the concept of ExtraordinAIRy Treasures which was embraced by the Williams Comfort Air ownership. It then blossomed into a program focused on education: scholarships.
ExtraordinAIRy Treasures continues to grow in its focus by offering ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Teachers Awards to those who are ExtraordinAIRy Treasures to our children. We will continue to look for other ExtraordinAIRy Treasures to honor both in and out of the educational setting.
ExtraordinAIRy Treasures programs now exist in four locations. Each location is sponsored by a local heating, cooling, plumbing and/or electrical company.
The meaning behind ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Scholarships
So why the focus on scholarships? What was the motivation? Suzi describes ExtraordinAIRy Treasures as her “heart-child” because it was based on her sons, both of whom are generous young men with hearts of gold.
Her older son was gifted in welding and excelled in that trade, but he had great challenges in the academic world. His overall grades were poor, and the road to graduation was difficult. He was a student who didn’t qualify for any scholarships because he wasn’t an academic, he wasn’t an athlete, he wasn’t a leader in community involvement; but, he was a great welder and a great young man. He has since graduated from the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology and is employed in his trade.
Her younger son was quite the opposite. He was not skilled in a trade. His road to graduation was paved with academic studies and success. He participated in sports and leadership opportunities. He was academically gifted, graduated salutatorian of a class of 600 and received numerous scholarships. He recently graduated from the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. He is currently attending Purdue’s Graduate School and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Engineering Management.
So… one son with great scholarship opportunities and another with none.
ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Scholarships are based on who a graduate is at heart. They honor graduates who are ExtraordinAIRy Treasures to our future. There are no GPA requirements and all career paths are embraced. These scholarships have been awarded to students pursing a wide range of careers such as becoming a chef, engineer, teacher, missionary, diesel mechanic and social worker. They have been presented to students who have faced challenges such as illness, abuse and homelessness, as well as students who were blessed with an easier path to graduation; students who were athletes and community leaders; students who “had their head in the game” all four years of high school; and, to those who recognized the importance of academics a few years into high school after their GPA was too low to recover.
The ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Scholarship are available to students like both of Suzi’s sons. Too often we forget that it takes all jobs to keep the world operating. We have probably all thought about where we would be without engineers, doctors, first responders or those in our military. But have you ever thought of where we would be without welders, plumbers, mechanics, heating and cooling technicians or electricians?
All students should have an opportunity for a scholarship, and that is why ExtraordinAIRy Treasures Scholarships were created.