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When Stella Hubbell was in nursing school at Columbia Union College, she had two jobs: attending and passing all her classes and working the 3 pm to 11 pm hospital shift six or seven days a week. She graduated in 1956 with her nursing degree, alongside business major Gerald, who would soon be her husband. The two moved to Florida to build a funeral home, which proved to be very successful, providing a foundation for other business ventures as well. In 2007, they sold one of those businesses and decided to endow a nursing scholarship at Adventist University of Health Sciences. Today, the fund continues to assist between six and nine students each year, often making a critical difference in their lives.
Stella knows firsthand the value of good education and strong faith. Years before college, marriage and business success, Stella was a young teen in the coal-mining region of Western Pennsylvania, mourning the loss of two brothers and father. The three deaths left her mother alone, with two daughters to raise. Friends from their Adventist community encouraged her mother to send her, and later her sister, to an Adventist boarding school in Ohio. “When I go back to my hometown, I thank my mother for sending me off to Mt. Vernon Academy on that bus all by myself,” she said. “It has done so much for my sister and me.” At Mt. Vernon, she helped pay for her tuition by working in the school’s bakery, building up a credit of $800 in her student account, which she asked be transferred to her account at Columbia Union College. Her foundation in generosity came from her father.
Just down the street from his shoe shop was a store which sometimes displayed the latest fashion. One day, a beautiful suit caught young Stella’s eye. She asked her father if it might be hers, but quickly learned its cost exceeded what her father was willing to pay. “I said, ‘You know dad, you’ve got that jar full of change,’” she said. Her father’s response was swift and strong. She can quote him to this day. “Oh no, that’s God’s money!” he bellowed. “That’s for our neighbors, for people out of work, who need groceries. That’s for us to help them.” She didn’t get the suit, but the lesson took hold. “Tithing and giving to church is very important to me,” she said, her voice thick with emotion, “because of the way he was about it.” Today, Stella and Gerald Hubbell continue to model her father’s ethic of giving. “Supporting scholarships is not like giving money and not knowing what happened, or what it accomplished. We know we helped somebody’s life get better. We made an impact on a life. The parents of young people who get scholarships come up and hug you and kiss you, they feel it too... it’s a blessing really,” she said.