The idea came in the aftermath of a memorial for a fallen Kent Police officer.
The family of Diego Moreno wanted to do something special to honor the man, an eight-year veteran who was killed in the line of duty last July.
Moreno’s mother, Lizzie Lee, struck up a conversation with Police Chief Rafael Padilla.
“She stopped me and said, ‘What I really want to do, Chief, is establish a scholarship in Diego’s name,’ ” Padilla said. “And I gotta tell you, that sent a tear (drop) through my heart. … I didn’t know what to do, but I bet I could find some people who do.”
In stepped the Kent Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has awarded $372,400 in scholarships and $491,000 in grants in serving the greater Kent community since 1986. The Kent Police Foundation offered its support.
Lee said the scholarship, which was officially established on Feb. 14, will “honor Diego’s life through the powerful legacy he left. A legacy of love and service that must live on.”
Family and friends gathered in the cafeteria at Kent-Meridian High School last Saturday for a community fundraiser. The pasta dinner, dessert dash and auction raised $25,000 for the scholarship, ensuring its endowment and availability for years to come.
Additional donations will allow for larger or multiple awards to Kent students.
“The great thing about tonight is that we get to establish a living legacy for him and what he’s about – about serving community, about kids, about having fun,” Padilla added.
The scholarship will be awarded each year to a graduating senior from a Kent high school who has demonstrated a commitment to serving his or her community, and intends to use his or her education to make the world a better place.
The scholarship can be applied to either a two- or four-year program. Preference will be given to students who intend to pursue a career in civil service. Applicants must be graduating seniors from any high school in the Kent School District.
The Kent Community Foundation will name the first scholarship recipient on May 14.
“On behalf of the organizing committee for the event, we want to extend a sincere thank you to the Kent community and everyone who came to the fundraiser for their support,” Kate Matos said.
Food, desserts, beverages and auction items were donated by sponsors Frankie June; EJ’s Catering; Alki Bakery; the accesso ShoWare Center; Mama Stortini’s Restaurant and Bar; Renton Technical College; Pie Lab; and the Kent School District. Kent Rotary Clubs provided volunteers to serve at the event, in addition to contributing funds.
For more information and an application, or to make a contribution to the scholarship program, visit kentcommunityfoundation.org/donate.