On Monday morning, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation joined with its newest donor, Stamford-based Cengage, to announce scholarship money to cover the education of five students who have lost a parent in the military.
"We recently received a very generous donation from Cengage which will help educate kids who lost parents to war," said Cynthia Kim, co-founder of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, prior to the press conference at the University of Connecticut Stamford.
Kim's husband, David, served in the military during operations in Panama in 1989. In that incident, a man in Kim's platoon was lost, leaving behind a pregnant wife with several kids already.
"He was struck by the tragedy, always wondering what could be done to help someone in that situation," Kim said. "We started thinking about how we could starta foundation like this well before 9/11. We could have never realized how much need there would be for an organization like this today."
Tabitha Bonilla understands the need all to well. Now 30, she lost her husband and father within 11 months of each other while they served in Iraq. The foundation helped Bonilla finish her education following the tragedies and, since then, Bonilla has returned to the group to give back to a company that has given so much to her.
"You have these dual-income households where suddenly the responsibility is falling onto a single person," Bonilla said. "Losing that loved one can sometimes feel like losing a connection to a much larger family. Coming from a military background, you don't take more than you need, but sometimes these families have two or three kids facing college at the same time."
She said the response from families who find out they can receive help in difficult financial situations like these are what make the job worth doing.
"So many receipients are just truly overwhelmed with gratitude," Bonilla said. "This foundation does what it says its going to do and I don't think anyone understands what they do to help better than I do."
Cengage is a company that produces textbooks and other digital tools for education. Rarely can a company's business mission statement align so well with its charitable endeavors, but new executive chairman for the company Ron Dunn said it was an easy partnership.
"We're really proud of this partnership. We're very happy to be associated with th Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation," Dunn said. "We stumble upon the organization completely by accident. One of our senior executives attended an annual benefit for the group, and within the space of a couple of weeks after, we'd set up this partnership."