Widener Hospitality Program Partners to Fund Scholarships for Chester Students
As a junior tourism and hospitality management major, Kennedy Jones is accustomed to serving three-course meals in the popular Marriott Dining Room in Academic Center North.
But, the dinner on Oct. 15 was different, as Jones and her classmates used their skills to raise scholarship funds for high school seniors in Chester – the city that Kennedy now refers to as her home.
“I am giving back to the community that I’m living in,” Kennedy said. “I love that Widener is helping out in this way.”
Widener University’s tourism and hospitality management program recently partnered with the Chester Upland School District and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wallingford to host the fundraising dinner. Guests included District Superintendent Juan Baughn and Rev. Jennifer Casey.
The funds will support the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s goal this year of giving six $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at Chester High School, to be used toward studies at any higher education institution.
“This is a great partnership with the district and Widener,” said Margaret Matuszewski, a church parishioner who co-chairs the scholarship initiative. “We think this is critically important to support the students in Chester.”
The church, which began in the 1880s in Chester before re-locating to Wallingford decades later, has sold Valentine’s Day boxes through the ‘Share the Love’ initiative to raise money for scholarships for several years.
“The whole idea came about because the church started in Chester and, we wanted to give back to the community we once called home,” Matuszewski said.
To grow the scholarship fund, Matuszewski approached Program Coordinator and Associate Professor Jeff Lolli about involving Widener students. Lolli agreed to host a dinner in the Marriott Dining Room.
“Experiential learning is a key component of a Widener education, especially for students studying tourism and hospitality,” Lolli said. “This event allows students to apply what they are learning as well as understand the importance of servant leadership though civic engagement in the Chester community.”
On Oct. 15, the dining room was filled with the smells of chicken parmigiana and barbecue teriyaki glazed salmon and the sounds of clinking glasses and laughter. Widener students planned, prepared and served the three-course meal.
Behind the scenes, sophomore hospitality management major Cheyenne Luckhard plated the dinners before passing them to her classmates for serving.
Luckhard was grateful to participate in the fundraising dinner, as well as the weekly Bistro Dinner Series on Wednesdays in the Marriott Dining Room.
“Since I’ve been here at Widener, the university has given me so many opportunities to engage in the community,” Luckhard said. “It shows me that I’m getting a really good education, while also giving back.”