Mary and Michael Fuchs
It was the perfect gift.
What better way to honor his wife, thought Michael Fuchs, than setting up a fund at the South Dakota Community Foundation to help some of the young women she cares most deeply about? "I wanted to recognize her and her passion for the Abbott House," says Michael, who set up the Mary E. Fuchs Scholarship Fund.
Mary is the chairperson for the Abbott House Board of Directors. Located in Mitchell, Abbott House was established in 1939 as an orphanage. Over the years, the organization has transitioned into an all-girls therapeutic facility to provide services for girls ages 7 to 17 who have suffered abuse and neglect.
The scholarships from the Mary E. Fuchs Scholarship Fund help young women who have lived at the house and want to pursue post-secondary education after they turn 18. The scholarship is also open to young men who have lived in the two Abbott House therapeutic foster homes in Rapid City.
"The Department of Social Services came to us and asked if we could add therapeutic foster care homes for boys West River, and so we are," Mary says. A capital campaign was kicked off in the Black Hills to build two additional homes and two independent living apartments for both boys and girls.
The Mary E. Fuchs scholarship fund supports the Abbott House youth who age out of the system at 18 and no longer have a support system. "For many, the state says, 'Well, you're an adult now… have a good life,'" Mary says. "But higher education is out of their reach. We hope to make it attainable."
Through their fund, students will be able to apply for a scholarship for college, a technical school, or formal training for a job, Michael says. "Most kids would have a mom or a dad to help, but they just don't have the structure there," he says.