Commissioner pays thousands out of pocket to fund Glades scholarships

Commissioner uses own funds for Glades scholarship

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - This election season we're hearing a lot about putting people back to work, but one Palm Beach County commissioner is literally putting his money where his mouth is.

He's not even up for re-election.

One person he's helping is a 27-year-old Palm Beach State College welding student at the Belle Glade campus named Roy Ward.

"I like to work with my hands so once I found out what welding was about I was interested in it," Ward said.

Due to financial setbacks and with two kids at home to support, he hasn't always been able to follow his dream.  

"O had an opportunity for a job and I had to stop school and work," he said.

It caused a delay in certification despite working years at it, but now he's back in school.

The reason, a scholarship for Glades area students created by Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria.

"It's a very important program especially for people in the Glades who need to be productive as soon as their out of high school," Santamaria said.

The commissioner paid $40,000 out of his pocket in the past year and a half to pay for classes to teach students a trade like welding or carpentry.

"That's what I'm trying to do is to get the young men and women of the glades area to be self sufficient by providing them proper training," the commissioner said.

He hopes it creates a more skilled workforce to hopefully curb the areas high unemployment rate.

"Most students out here in the Glades probably don't get a chance to go out and get a career and it helps those who want to get a career and who want to succeed in life," Ward said.

So far Commissioner Santamaria has helped about 40 Glades students.

Tuesday, he gave another $20,000 to the college to help even more.

"We really have an obligation to help them help themselves," Santamaria said.

He's done that for Ward, who is finally going to get his certificate in December, putting him on the right track to a welding career.

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