Pastor awarding scholarships in memory of his late mother

DAYTON, Ohio — Motivated by a significant loss, one Southwest Ohio Pastor is focused on giving back to students by way of a scholarship named after his late mother.


What You Need To Know

  • Pastor Terence O. Hayes Sr. is fundraising for his scholarship in honor of his late mother
  • Hayes Sr. has raised nearly $9,000 of his $10,000 goal
  • Students can apply for the scholarship until June 13, there is no GPA requirement
  • Hayes Sr. is also aiming to end the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community

Pastor Terence O. Hayes Sr. greets everyone at Faith and Deliverance Church of God and Christ and motivated by his faith and by tragic loss.

“It just took us all by surprise,” Hayes said. “I was 11 years old when this tragedy happened. So it devastated my whole world. It devastated my whole life.”

His mom, Ethel Hayes, took her own life when she was 29, but Hayes Sr. Never let her spirit fade.

“Always thinking about her, the memories of her life, her smile, her joy that she was for me as a mom,” Hayes Sr. said. “I wanted her name to be remembered.”

So he created the Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship, a crowdfunded effort supporting students through college.

“Now in year two my goal is to reach $10K,” he said.

Hayes is spreading the word about the scholarships across the Miami Valley to spread the word about the scholarships, but the contest is open to all students nationally.

To enter, students have to submit a 500-word essay on their mental health journey, including how it’ affected their beliefs, relationships and aspirations.

Dayton Public Schools Academic Coordinator Angela Worley said the scholarship is a great opportunity for students.

“All they have to do is share their story,” Worley said. “Again coming through, especially in Dayton, everything that we’ve gone through, from the tornadoes to the mass shooting to the pandemic. All of those things have touched, impacted us in some way or another.”

Pastor Hayes talking with students at Meadowdale High School in Dayton (Tino Bovenzi/Spectrum News 1).

Last year, Hayes awarded $7,500 in scholarships. He’s already exceeded that amount this year in fundraising but is hopeful to raise as much as he can to help as many students as he can.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle school and high school-aged youth, according to the CDC. Hayes Sr says that’s why he’s aiming to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

“Having an opportunity as a pastor in the African-American community, there’s a stigma about talking about mental health issues,” Hayes Sr. said. “I did not want to see another 11-year-old boy or girl go through what I went through because I had no counseling.”

There are more than 6,700 applications so far, which Hayes knows would make his mother proud.

“To see this scholarship taking the wings it is and the legs, and the students making the applications, sharing their story,” he said. “It’s because of her life that this is being shared by others.”

The scholarship is crowdfunded through bold.org. It’s open to all students across the country. The application deadline is June 14.

The winner will be selected on July 13, his mother’s birthday.

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