The FirstFruits Scholars Program supports students who demonstrate a strong commitment to service in community. Our goal is to see youth embrace their God-given gifts and dreams and build the skills and connections needed to put those dreams into action.
Most of our students are the first in their families to pursue higher education. For them to be successful, we know it takes more than money. Our scholars program is about accompaniment — connecting with youth and their families, bridging relationships with schools, and building cohorts of students who can be a support to one another.
The FirstFruits Scholars Program is open to children of FirstFruits Farms and FirstFruits Community employees. We seek to connect with students early in their high school program so that we can build relationships with them and offer guidance as they chart their course for the future.
Our orientation program takes prospective students through a series of workshops covering the following topics: call and purpose; servant leadership; community service; planning and organizing; good decision making.
Throughout the scholarship program, we place a high priority on community building — not only are students required to complete community service hours prior to applying for admission into our program, but they commit to community service hours every month during their course of study.
The purpose of this community service requirement is less about the activity chosen than it is about the intentional effort made by each student to connect with people outside of their regular school routine. Over the years, we have learned that the most successful students have built up networks of support, both on and off campus. As they engage in the community around them, they build supportive relationships and takes these skills and connections with them wherever they go in the future.
Omar Escalera, speaking to FirstFruits scholars recipients at our annual awards event
Stories of Impact
“This gym saved my life,” proclaimed Omar Escalera as he stood on a stage in the Vista Hermosa Community Gym this Summer. He was addressing our newest round of FirstFruits Scholars recipients and their families during our annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
Omar and his family relocated to Vista Hermosa from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico during a tumultuous time in the early 1990s. For Omar, the change was massive—he had been taken from a bustling metropolitan border town to a rural community in Washington State. He was angry and he hated being told what to do or how to behave. As a youth, Omar made decisions that were leading him down a challenging path. Nevertheless, Omar had dreams for his future, and a number of Vista Hermosa Community members helped him to see that he needed to change in order to achieve them.
As the years went by, Omar found healing. His spirit was made whole through community and relationships with those surrounding him. Today, Omar is an assistant principle for Pasco High School. He’ll never forget those who walked alongside him during the difficult years of his youth. He attributes his success to the community that was so willing to be in relationship with him, despite his own shortcomings. Omar is now committed to staying connected to his community, and he does this by staying visible, mentoring and putting relationships first.