Charmaine and Don Kolb have been supporters of the Community Colleges of Spokane and the CCS Foundation for decades. In fact, they even both worked for the colleges.
Charmaine went from teaching secondary school to teaching English as a Second Language. She recalls her time working with ESL students as meaningful and fun. The students always made good friends with each other. Charmaine had a huge appreciation for the students after learning about grateful they were to come to this country, learn, and get good jobs to support their families. After students asked for it, she even taught a citizenship class for several years.
“Boy, if that isn’t an emotional thing, to be at those ceremonies,” Charmaine said. “There were a lot of tears flowing on days like that. [It’s] a goal they’ve been wanting to achieve for years.”
It’s clear that Charmaine had a lasting impact on her students. For example, she was in Costco just recently and a former student from Ukraine recognized her as his teacher from 25 years ago! She ran into that same student’s wife a month later and they’re all going to have a little get together soon.
It's this kind connection that inspired Charmaine and Don to be donors. Charmaine saw how important scholarships and emergency aid could be for students. Her former students wanted to fit into this country, to get a good job and support their families. “Education is the key to that,” she explained, and it can be hard for ESL students to put that much money aside for school. The Kolb’s feel honored to be able to help current and future students through Charmaine’s endowed scholarship.
When asked about what she hopes the long-term impact is for her scholarship, Charmaine says she and Don just want to “help [students] achieve their goals.”
Don adds that one of the strong reasons he wanted to support students is because Charmaine is “one fine person” and he wants students to know that there are people like her who want to encourage and support them. Hopefully, someday they’ll be inspired to give back to the next generation of students, remembering Charmaine as, as Don puts it, “a role model that’s second to none.”