ABOUT THE FINALIST:
* Name: Hazel Elizabeth Robinson Bowles Foundation
* Organized: 1998 after Bowles retired from Dalewood Middle School
* Why: Bowles, family members and a few people in the community wanted to help the school and they set up the foundation
* I retired in 1998 and I wanted to do something for the school and the students." - Hazel Bowles, a founder of the Hazel Elizabeth Robinson Bowles Foundation
* "I am very grateful to the foundation for all of the benefits that are afforded to my students." - Tracy Davis, Dalewood Middle School teacher
* As a 6-year-old, Tracy Davis recalled she would visit her great-aunt who lived in the same community with Bowles and play with Bowles children.
* The foundation was organized on Bowles birthday
Just two days before school was to start last summer, Dalewood Middle School teacher Tracy Davis realized she didn't have the supplies for the new class to which she was assigned.
"As a teacher, we are only allotted so much money to buy supplies," Davis said about the class for multi-handicapped students. "That amount wasn't going to cover what was needed."
Then, she said, her principal brought in Hazel Bowles and her husband, and they made a list of needed supplies which included items ranging from laundry detergent to snacks.
"She and her husband and daughter delivered them to my classroom," Davis said.
The Hazel Elizabeth Robinson Bowles Foundation was nominated by Davis for the Times Free Press Excellence in Education awards in the category of community support.
Bowles said she was a teacher at Dalewood for 25 years, having retired in 1998. It was that year the foundation was set up as she, family members and a few people in the community wanted to do something for the school, said the 76-year-old woman.
She recalled that she had known several parents who weren't going to be able to afford to buy a complete uniform which their students were being required to wear.
"I said, 'Why not include those students,'" Bowles said.
Over the years, providing uniforms on an application-only basis has continued as well as offering school supplies for the entire student body, she said.
Davis said the foundation has been instrumental in providing school supplies for every student and teacher as well as the multi-handicapped classroom.
"I am very grateful to the foundation for all of the benefits that are afforded to my students," she said. "The foundation is especially awesome for coming to the quick assistance of a school that serves a population of low socioeconomic children."
Bowles said the multi-handicapped children often need personal items such as individual washcloths, wipes and sanitizer.
"Whatever we buy, we buy enough for each student to have his or her individual supply," she said.
Bowles said the foundation relies on contributions from the community.
Davis said she knew Bowles even before becoming employed at Dalewood. As a 6-year-old, Davis recalled she would visit her great-aunt who lived in the same community with Bowles.
"I played with, attended school with and even participated in ballet classes with Mrs. Bowles daughters," she said.
While Bowles later moved away, Davis attended Dalewood and took part in meetings with the woman at the school.
Davis said the foundation is "definitely a welcomed resource for our students."
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.