Betty’s Story

On October 17th, 1950 a beautiful baby girl named Betty Jean was born in Columbus , Indiana to the Gates family. From the time Betty Jean reached middle school she wanted to be a nurse. She knew her family could not afford to send her to nursing school so Betty Jean began working part time through middle school and high school so she could pay for her nursing school education. Betty was accepted to the Diploma Nursing Program at Marion County General Hospital, in Indianapolis. In the fall of 1968. 

During her training two things became very clear. She really enjoyed working in the Emergency Room and she loved working with patients who suffered with Mental Illness and addictions. She excelled in her studies and was prepared to graduate on time. One issue put this in jeopardy. Even though she worked part time jobs she couldn’t afford to pay for her last semester and she wasn’t sure where to turn. A small miracle took place and a local church heard about her situation and they gave Betty scholarship to help pay for her last semester. Betty Jean never forgot that moment for the rest of her life. 

Betty visited San Diego right after graduation with a friend who had also graduated with her from nursing school whose husband was a physician who was there for 6 weeks to do his naval officer training. Betty fell in love with San Diego and was able to get her first job as a psychiatric nurse at a newly opened free standing psychiatric hospital.  We met at this hospital, fell in love and married in 1973. We both worked in the mental health field for the next almost 40 years. Betty worked with adults, adolescents and children in outpatient and inpatient settings and in research field till she was diagnossed with cancer late in 2011. Betty passed on June 10, 2012 at 404am with her family with her. To understand Betty and her personality she told me a few days before she passed,”Tell people not to send flowers for her to the house. If they want to send flowers, send them to their partner, spouse, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers or anyone who they love who they haven’t let them know that for awile.” Amazingly more than 70 people let us know they did exactly that.

During her last few weeks,  Betty and I talked about many things but one issued stood out. Betty remembered the scholarship that enabled her to finish her dream of becoming a psychiatric nurse. 

The Scholarship

I promised her that I would make sure this happened. Her smile at that moment has stayed with me every day. At that moment our  two sons Ryan and Luke and I began the process of putting together a scholarship fund that would become a 501©(3) not for profit program.

The scholarship focus:

The focus of the scholarship is really quite simple. There are only two primary qualifers to apply. First you must be working, at least part time, in a job in the mental health or addiction related fields. Secondly, you must be attending, at least part time,  a college or training program that will aid you in your ability to better carry our your mission to work in the mental health or addiction fields. We want to assist people who need halp, like the last semester nursing student did back in 1971, in being more successful and helping their clients/patients in their treatment and improving their lives one day at a time. 

We have given out scholarships beginning in 2015 to 10 individuals who range from:  2 women , who while working full time, also completed their masters and PhDs iin clinical psychology…..1 women working full time and few were able to help finish her Masters in social work and move into the mental work force…..6 staff members over 2 years at the San Diego Center for Children ( a 130 years social service agency for children with a wide variety of Mental Health issue) . These 6 individuals were all working part to full time and going to school working on undergraduate degrees, Masters and Doctorate in related fields. We are the process now of awarding our first of 5 annual scholarship to a senior Nursing student at San Diego State University . The same primary qualifiers and used but we have added one more . we would like this soon to graduate student to be the first college graduate in her families histories. 

We dispurse the scholarship in check form not to the student but to the financial services department at the school they are attending. We do this for two reasons, First when are asking for donations we tell people that their donations will go directly to the cost of tuition. Secondly by giving the scholarship to the school the student has no tax liability because of those funds. 

Where has our funding come from:

All the funding that has provided theses scholarships has come from donations from family, friends and mostly from colleagues in the health and research related fields. We have received hundreds of donations from big to small from all over the United and Europe from clinical research colleagues. Many of these colleagues knew & loved Betty and every thing she was and stood for. These donations continue to be our financial support. We hold a few events during the year to raise awareness of the Betty Jean Woodaman Scholarship Fund. 

What now. 

We want to set up more & more scholarships with community based not for profit mental health center and at every junior college nursing program in San Diego county. To do this we need to increase our scholarship funds and to also increase our visibility to attract other donors . 

We keep discovering more and more opportunities to help hardworking & bright people to achieve their dreams and bee the next generation of clinical leaders in he fight against mental illness and addiction. 

Thanks so much for your interest and if you have any thoughts or suggestions please contact us at any time. Email Woody at woodywoodaman@cox.net, text or call at 619-778-6987. Our mailing address is Betty Woodaman Memorial Scholarship Fund, 13603 Jackrabbit Rd., Poway, CA 92064.

All donations are tax deductible and we are a 501©(3) not for profit charity. We will provide receipts for anyone when requested.

Thanks & all the best,

The Woodamans