Blessing every semester

Oconee County Habitat homeowner Tina Oglesby earned her nursing degree in December 2013. The single mother of three teenagers received a very special hand up, thanks to a pair of dedicated volunteers.

Years ago, longtime Habitat supporters Bill and Grace Holzhauer put events in motion that ultimately resulted in an education fund in their name, a fund Oglesby was able to tap for expenses related to her studies.

Retired civil engineer Bill says he first got involved because “the construction end of Habitat’s business felt like a good fit as a part-time activity.” Since then, that “part-time activity” has kept the South Carolina residents plenty busy.

Grace has spent many hours fielding phone calls, organizing fundraising events and working at the affiliate’s two ReStores. Bill served on the affiliate’s board of directors for 13 years, was construction manager for seven, the head of the site selection committee for 10 and the affiliate’s president for one.

It was during his tenure as president that Bill started an annual fundraiser featuring jazz musicians. As the event grew, and its profits climbed, the board created a special use for the proceeds: the Holzhauer Education Fund, which now makes about 10 $500 grants per semester.

Oglesby used her grants to purchase the expensive textbooks and other supplies needed for nursing school. “I was excited to know that I would have that extra help for school,” she says. “Receiving the funds from Habitat was a blessing every semester, knowing I would be able to request less from the student loans, which meant less I would have to pay back.”

The Holzhauers say they have been gratified by the knowledge that the fund that bears their name is helping to change lives — lives like Oglesby’s and those of the other students who will be able to access the fund.

“If we can provide better facilities for children to have a study opportunity, without too many people in one room and no quiet space, maybe they’ll get better grades and get a better education,” Bill says. “And maybe in 20 years we won’t have to build for them. That’s really, to my mind, the bottom line. I want to create a group of kids who don’t need us.”

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