Bay Area Gardener Provides Scholarships, Helps Students Attend College

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Bay Area man has created a foundation to help financially-disadvantaged students attend college. Damian Trujillo reports. (Published Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014)

    Catalino Tapia came to the United States 50 years ago with $6 in his pocket.

    "It was like another world for me, because I didn't know the language," he said. "You had your doubts, but you also had your hopes."

    His hope was to put his kids through school by gardening. Tapia was able to accomplish that goal. He now owns his gardening company, employing four workers, and today he is focused on helping financially-disadvantaged students -- other peoples' kids -- attend college.

    Tapia has provided tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships through his Bay Area Gardeners Foundation.

    Wyrogelio Mata is one of 20 students this year awarded a $1,500 scholarship from Tapia's foundation. Mata is heading to the University of California, Davis.

    "It's not just money," Mata said. "It's about what other people think about you, because if you can see that they believe in you and they trust in what you are doing, you can feel enforced to do better."

    Tapia's foundation in the last eight years has awarded nearly $250,000 in scholarships, all raised through donations.

    "I can see the need that they have, and I can tell you that I'm going to keep doing it until the last day of my life," Tapia said.

    Mata and the this year’s other scholarship recipients will be recognized at a fundraiser dinner June 28 in Palo Alto.