Actions Speak Louder than Words
"My mother is the reason I'm interested in doing for others," says Ruth Shugart, a long-time resident of St. Augustine and loyal supporter of Flagler College.
The story of Ruth's mother, E. Virginia Hein, is the story of millions of American women who grew up during the Great Depression. It is hard to imagine now, but at that time, women's career choices were limited to teacher, nurse, or secretary. Ruth's mother had a different dream. "She was always interested in business, but being a woman, she couldn't take business classes in college. To make up for that, I established the E. Virginia Hein Memorial Scholarship for Women in Business," Ruth says. The scholarship assists full-time female students in good standing who are majoring in Business Administration, Accounting, or Sport Management.
Ruth's mother entered the women's college Flora Stone Mather Western Reserve Institute in Ohio in 1939. (The school is now known as CASE Western Reserve University.) She graduated with a degree in dietetics and worked as a hospital dietitian for a few years before taking a job as a secretary in her father's business. When Mrs. Hein moved to St. Augustine in the early 1950s, she began working as a secretary at Marineland.
Though her mother did not have the financial means to be philanthropic, "She did good works in an unassuming way; she was a humble, quiet person," Ruth says.
A Legacy of Caring
Ruth, who has lived in St. Augustine for more than 60 years, has supported numerous local not-for-profit organizations, including the Women's Exchange and Bailey Hospice Center. She also believes in supporting education, and in 2005, endowed the first of two scholarships, the Ruth Shugart Scholarship.
Once again, Ruth was inspired by a secretary. "A friend's daughter who worked as a secretary began attending Flagler at the same time as her daughter. She told me she was considered a 'non-traditional student'. That was the first I had heard the term," Ruth says.
A non-traditional student may be older, married, have children, or other circumstances different from a traditional undergraduate. To qualify for the scholarship, the student must be full-time, in good standing, and demonstrate financial need.
When Ruth established the E. Virginia Hein Memorial Scholarship in 2010, she had specific goals in mind. "I was looking for something to honor my mother, and I like helping young people and students."
Together, the two scholarships have benefitted a total of 22 students so far.
Ruth's generous gifts place her among other loyal donors in the Flagler College Founder's Society which honors donors with a lifetime of giving. Over the years, Ruth has helped shape and sustain the College, its students, and faculty.
Scholarships can be established in a variety of ways, including through an IRA. Individuals who need to make a required minimum distribution (RMD), can choose to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) to a not-for-profit organization such as Flagler.
Finding an appropriate way to honor someone you so greatly admire might seem like a daunting responsibility, but Ruth says establishing the scholarship in her mother's name was easy, and the Office of Institutional Advancement was "wonderful to work with."
In establishing the scholarships, Ruth Shugart carries on her mother's legacy of "doing good works" while impacting many students today and for generations to come. Ruth's mother could not pursue her dreams, but her scholarship recipients can, thanks to her daughter's generosity. "Some of the scholarship recipients have gone on to accomplish things they had only dreamed of before," Ruth says.
To establish a scholarship in a loved one's name through an IRA or RMD, or to make other planned gifts that support Flagler College, contact Nicole Pece, at 904-819-6406, or the Office of Institutional Advancement at 904-819-6437.