He added, “She was our inspiration. So, we’ve been doing things to support refugees, because it looks to me like there are a lot of people in the same situation – from low-income and minority families who have academic abilities and great potential.”
LFS Chief Development Officer Mark Versen said, “It is not every day you get to make a philanthropic dream come true to this magnitude. LFS is grateful to partner with the Smiths to give the same opportunity to succeed to high school graduates and their families across the state.”
Coyner said that he and Donna are excited to see the scholarship program grow. They would like to increase the number of recipients to 10-20 per year until the program sunsets.
“We really feel good about doing this,” he said. “We don’t have too much longer to live, and we can leave something behind. We hope it is not unique to us.”
Smith added that he and Donna “want to inspire other people to know the fund is open to others who wish to contribute. We made it open-ended, put it in our will so it can be sustained after we are gone.”
The Smiths have made arrangements for another $1 million to be added to the scholarship fund upon their passing.
Originally from Waverly, Illinois, the Smiths have become the single largest donor to Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska since making their home in Omaha.