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SMC nursing endowment created

SMC nursing endowment created

A $2,500 gift to Southwestern Michigan College created the Ernie Kurdys and Jeff Mathis Nursing Endowment.

Scholarships the endowment generates are earmarked for students pursuing or enrolled in SMC's nursing program.

In addition, they set up their estates with SMC as one of the beneficiaries of a planned gift.

Neither of the Dowagiac men is a nurse, but both worked in health facilities and feel grateful for care nurses provide.

"We don't give nurses enough credit for care," said Mathis, an Elkhart native whose family contains three. "It's our way to pay it forward. We hope by our doing this it will encourage more people to take a look at" planned giving.

Mathis worked for 25 years in personnel on the business side of the Northern Indiana State Developmental Center, which closed in 1999.

The facility was established in South Bend in 1950 as the Northern Indiana Children's Hospital to care for children with polio.

As the need for beds for youngsters crippled by polio declined, the 1961 General Assembly converted the hospital into a unit for the care of mentally retarded children. It later transitioned into caring for developmentally disabled children across Indiana's northern half.

Mathis is a Vietnam-era veteran who served in Army security in Japan and Turkey from 1966-70. He studied at Indiana University South Bend.

Kurdys, a former Vandalia resident who suffered polio as a boy, served in the Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has participated in Cass County politics, serving on the Board of Canvassers.

Kurdys, who retired from St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend, credits a nurse with intervening when he experienced complications during open-heart surgery.

With challenges nursing and health care providers face from the coronavirus, "We wanted to do our share," Kurdys said, "and to support SMC's excellent program."

SMC's foundation accepts contributions to existing scholarships in addition to establishing new scholarships and planned estate gifts.

Direct donations to: SMC Foundation, Director of Development, 58900 Cherry Grove Road, Dowagiac, MI 49047. Contact Nate Swords at (269) 782-1301 or nswords@swmich.edu for more information.