Scholarship Fund Established to Assist Legally Blind and Visually Impaired Students

The Bristol Lions Club received a bequest several years ago from the estate of Mark M. Keating to establish a scholarship fund in memory of his father James J. Keating. The scholarship was intended for Bristol residents who were graduating high school students and classified as legally blind. But while scholarships with specific criteria allow for students with particular life experiences to apply within a smaller pool, the specificity of the criteria can make it difficult to grant the scholarship annually.

In 2022, the Bristol Lions Club transferred this scholarship, the Bristol Lions Club/James J. Keating Scholarship Fund, to MSCF. The scholarship continues to be available first and foremost to a graduating senior from Bristol who is classified as legally blind or visually impaired. However, in a year when there may be no Bristol applicants, the scholarship may be awarded to students from the other communities served by the Foundation.

And so, in 2022 MSCF awarded the inaugural scholarship from the Fund to Jeremey Evanoski, a Plymouth resident. Jeremey graduated from Terryville High School in June 2022 and will be pursuing computer science at Central Connecticut State University.

father, for whom the scholarship is named after, was born in 1890 and passed away in Bristol, living to be 107 years old. After retiring, James became invested in eye health after his friend lost their eyesight, and he joined the Bristol Lions Club. As part of his work, he helped organize glaucoma and vision screening drives, as well as led efforts to set up vision screening machines in Bristol schools and institute mandatory vision testing of schoolchildren. It is no doubt that it was this passion and generosity that inspired his son to create this scholarship fund.

A commitment to eye health and those with visual impairments is one of the cornerstones of the mission of the Lions Club, locally, nationally, and internationally. When asked about the work they do around this cause, Everett Lyons, president of the Bristol Lions Club said, “Locally, our club focuses on pediatric sight screening, assisting the needy to secure eye examinations and prescription glasses, providing therapeutic assistance in conjunction with Bristol Hospital to residents suffering from diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, supporting the state Lions efforts to fund eye research at both Yale and UConn medical laboratories as well as funding summer camp experiences for diabetic children, as diabetes is the #1 cause of blindness in our country.”

The legacy of both James J. Keating and the Bristol Lions Club is why the Foundation is honored to steward this fund in perpetuity.