Partners in Funding Mission

In Memory of...

March 30, 2015
Christine Belsches and son,
Alan Belsches
Alan Belsches’ father died when he was four years old, in 1957. His mother, who never remarried, raised him and his older brother.

Christine M. Belsches was a first generation American, the daughter of Czechoslovakian immigrants, grew up on a farm, and graduated from high school. She was, as Belsches describes her, an independent woman who worked hard to raise her two sons.

Each month the two brothers received social security survivor benefits - the idea being that their mother would be able to use the money to raise her sons.

“But she didn’t do that,” explained Belsches. Instead, she put those checks in the bank, month after month, so that when both boys graduated from high school, they were able to draw on those funds to pay for college.

“She very much valued furthering the education of her kids, so she did what she had to do. She skimped and she saved so that we would be able to continue our education,” he continued.

Realizing that she would not be able to make enough money at her job in the courthouse clerk’s office she found a job working in civil service at Fort Lee where she worked for the next three decades until she retired.

When her elder sister was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Belsches’ mother, now living alone in the house where she had raised her sons, moved in with her sister and brother-in-law to be their primary caregiver. “My mom spent about nine years as a caregiver to her sister,” explained her son. “She was ‘old school,’ and the thought of putting her sister in a nursing home never entered her mind – you took care of your family; that was the way it was.”

That same spirit motivated Belsches to seek a way for his mother’s memory to continue to be honored. 

Before his brother passed away, just a month after their mother, the two siblings talked about establishing a scholarship fund for the youth growing up in their mother’s Presbyterian church. The fund would be a way to honor her memory and her sacrifice for them, and, in turn, pass that blessing on to others.

Last year Alan Belsches established the Christine M. Belsches Scholarship Fund in memory of his mother. The fund is to be used for scholarships for members of the Gregory Memorial Presbyterian Church in Prince George, Virginia.
Belsches got the idea of establishing a fund with the Presbyterian Foundation from his own Presbyterian church in Dothan, Alabama. A former church member had created a scholarship fund for the youth from the church to help them pay for college.

“My own children were able to benefit from that fund, so I thought, why not do something like that in honor of my mother?”

Members of the youth group at
Gregory Memorial Presbyerian
Church in Prince George, Virginia
who may benefit from the
Christine M. Belsches Scholarship Fund.

He was also thankful for the kindness of those at his mother’s church, who, through the years, had cared for his mother, particularly as her health began to fail.

“I thought this can be a way to try to pay back to them in some way for the kindness they had shown to her,” he shared.

The fund is set up so that each year when students graduate from high school they are able to apply. Although it is primarily intended for students intending to pursue higher education, there is also flexibility to allow for other activity that furthers the student’s education.

In addition to serving in memory of his mother,  Belsches hopes that the fund can be a blessing to the congregation as well. “For a church to be able to say  we have this great benefit for our youth, maybe that will help bring in the youth,” Belsches shared.

Belsches himself is not unaware of the challenges students face, particularly financially, in pursuing higher education. As an English professor at Troy University, he sees students who are struggling to pay for books in addition to tuition.

“Sure, we could have done something else with the money – but instead my brother and I thought, why not try and do something to help those kids and give them a very tangible benefit?”

“It just seemed like a good way to honor her memory,” Belsches said. A fitting tribute to his mother who struggled and worked hard to make sure that he and his brother were able to go to college.

Let us help you create a memorial or legacy gift that will provide support for generations to come.  A Ministry Relations Officer is available to listen to your goals and objectives so they can suggest gift options for your situation.  Contact your regional Ministry Relations Officer or call us at 800-858-6127.



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