Jay ’72 and Barbara ’72 Belding were at a worship service when their pastor offered words of advice that made them both pause.
“Our pastor said, ‘Do your giving while you’re living, so you’re knowing where it’s going.’ Both of us looked at each other and said, ‘That’s for us.’ That pierced our hearts,” says Jay.
Together, the couple has established The Jonathan J. & Barbara Belding Engineering Scholarship, awarded annually to a currently enrolled School of Engineering student. Though the scholarship has provided opportunities for students since 2015, the Beldings wanted to significantly increase its impact.
“We wanted to give the funds that would provide three students with a scholarship for half of their tuition, guaranteed for four years,” he says.
To do so, the Beldings took advantage of their retirement account, including withdrawing funds from their IRA, to make their wishes for the scholarship a reality. “We wanted to do something and we wanted to do it now,” he says.
The pair met at Trenton State — Jay was in the industrial arts and technology program while Barbara was an education major — and have continued to grow together personally and professionally. They are co-founders of Associated Production Services, a 501(c)(3) non-profit vocational training facility for developmentally disabled adults, where they employ about 600 individuals throughout eastern Pennsylvania.
But their time at the college was more than just academics. Their respective programs taught them about building character, learning good work habits, and the importance of community.
“It was a tremendous experience for both of us in the relationships that we were able to engage in, not only with fellow students but also with the staff and professors,” Jay says. “Many of those relationships continue to this day.”
And even though it’s been nearly 50 years since they were undergraduate students on campus, the college has always been on their minds.
“We both were very blessed by our time at The College of New Jersey,” Barbara says. “We are very strong believers that education is the keystone for the ultimate improvement of our free society and for maintaining our shared goal of ensuring opportunity for all. We felt compelled to share the blessings that we have in our effort to look back in gratitude and forward with hope.”
— David Pavlak