Compassionate and quality nursing care for an aging parent makes all the difference.

In this case, that care led to a $50,000 donation by the JP Cullen Foundation to the Nancy B. Parker Nursing Scholars Program.

The donation, which will be matched by the Parker Family Foundation, means Blackhawk Technical College will be one step closer to a $1 million scholarship fund intended to increase diversity in the nursing program, improve student retention, and retain nurses in Rock and Green counties.

The JP Cullen Foundation and the JP Cullen company have long been engaged in the support of community projects and education. The company runs internship programs, supports mentorships and co-ops and hosts a large, hands-on career fair for high school students.

But the decision to support the nursing program was a personal one.

“When my father, J.P., relied on 24/7 home care, he was cared for by a number of individuals who were CNAs looking to obtain their nursing degrees,” Mark Cullen, chairman of JP Cullen, said in a news release. “They really made a positive difference in his care.”

The Nancy B. Parker Scholars program began in fall 2018. First-year students are eligible for a $1,000 award with an opportunity for an additional $1,500 in their second year.

The scholarship program started with a $250,000 donation from the Parker Foundation. Blackhawk Technical College must raise $500,000 in the next three years to get an additional $250,000 from the Parker Foundation.

To date, the college has raised nearly $400,000 in donations, with Mercyhealth contributing $100,000 in December 2018.

One of the stipulations of the scholarships is that recipients must look for work in local communities.

The program is named after Nancy B. Parker and recognizes her lifelong contributions to and involvement with nursing activities, including serving on the board of trustees for what was then called Mercy Hospital.