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In the photo above, left to right, are the 2023 Scholarship winners with Mrs. Sunday Allen on the far right: Ricardo Gutierrez, Jr., Rylee Chadwick, Catherin Dowless, Maycee Bullard, and Wadeyn Norris.


Boost the Boro, Inc. (BTB), a local non-profit organization that likes to “give a boost, a hand-up, a hand-out, a help around to the community,” set a record this year with their scholarships. On Tuesday, June 6, the BTB members held the 2023 Scholarship Winners Celebration at New Light Church’s Connection Building in downtown Bladenboro.

During the celebration, Sunday Allen, a BTB member, and local teacher, announced this year that BTB is setting a record with the number of scholarships they donate to local students.

Allen explained the club started the scholarship opportunity in 2018 to help students from the community who were going off to college to do something great. The first recipient was Cierra Byrd, a West Bladen High School graduate. In 2019, the club doubled the scholarships distributed. “We were excited. We were thrilled to be able to give back to the community,” Allen said.

West Bladen graduates Alana King and Haley Hester received $500 scholarships in 2019, and in 2020 Kailey Gause and Kasee Singletary received the scholarships. They all went off to college and are doing great things, Allen reported.

In 2021, Cara Beth Lewis won the BTB scholarship; according to Allen, she used the scholarship for education and is now a businesswoman in Bladenboro.

Allen continued, “In 2022, we gave three $750 scholarships.” Kayla Norris, a graduate recipient, was present at the scholarship celebration. Hannah Hester and Abigail Mclaughlin were the other two scholarship winners from 2022.

“This year, Allen exclaimed, “We are hitting it big! We are able this year to give three $1000 scholarships from Boost the Boro and two $1000 (renewable for one) scholarships from the Juanita Stanley family.”

The BTB scholarship winners this year are:
Ricardo Gutierrez, Jr. from Bladen Early College High School
Wadeyn Norris from West Bladen High School
Catherin Dowless from West Bladen High School

Allen told the scholarship winners, “I think that all three of your applications gave us an indication that, yes, giving back is part of who you are, so we thank you!”

Before the following scholarship winners were announced, Allen took a moment to explain Ms. Juanita Stanley’s impact on the community and her church and how the scholarships were formed in Ms. Stanley’s honor by her family for students who wanted to study music or medicine.

This year, the 2023 Juanita Stanley Scholarship winners are West Bladen High School seniors Maycee Bullard and Rylee Chadwick. According to Allen, if the students keep their grades up and do well, the recipients will receive another $1000 scholarship next year.

Each graduate expounded on their future educational plans and thanked the BTB members for their scholarship winnings. Before the crowd departed, they enjoyed light refreshments and conversations.

The next Boost the Boro, Inc. meeting will be June 13 at 2:30 at the Bladenboro Farmer’s Market. Find out more about Boost the Boro, Inc at boosttheboro.org.