Joe Wyatt
Published September 28, 2016

Myrna Raffkind was so inspired by the affability and professionalism of her caregivers at The Arbors that she and her husband set up a scholarship that annually supports up to four individuals in pursuit of health-sciences degrees at Amarillo College.


Four women employed at The Arbors are taking advantage of the Daniel and Myrna Raffkind Nursing and Physical Therapy Support Fund today, and Myrna is inspired all over again.

“They all are simply wonderful, smiling all the time and so upbeat,” said Myrna, who in 2014 had need of The Arbors, a skilled nursing and rehabilitative center, where she convalesced from a fractured hip. “These young women truly do inspire me. They are not only taking advantage of the financial opportunity, they’re making the most of it.”

That is certainly true of Marissa Estrada, a certified nurse aide at The Arbors who is taking 18 semester credit hours at AC this fall. She plans to graduate in December as a licensed vocational nurse. It’s another milestone in her quest to one day become a registered nurse.

“I applied for the scholarship and I got it,” Marissa said, “and it’s blessed me in so many ways. I don’t know what else I’d be doing other than working. My dream is to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing, but the last thing I wanted to do was get another loan for school. It’s too much.

“The scholarship has helped me with my tuition and that’s made a huge difference in my life, in allowing me to follow my passion for nursing, to attend school full time and still work part time.”

Serenity Ozzello has been a registered nurse at The Arbors for the past five years. She wants to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing but needs to complete a few more prerequisites at AC before transferring her credits to a university.

After years of weighing the costs involved, Serenity decided to go ahead and tackle those prerequisites. But she knew she would be cutting it close financially. Soon after she enrolled at AC, she heard about the Raffkind Fund.

“Immediately I knew that was a sign,” Serenity said, “that financially I couldn’t have done it, but there was help available. I knew at the time that I had to do it because there was a way that was shown to me.

“I’m so thankful for Ms. Raffkind,” she said.

Crystal Harris and Misty Dawn Rue, both certified nurse aides at The Arbors, also are receiving assistance this semester from the Raffkind Fund. Both have their sights set on becoming registered nurses, and Crystal aspires after that to become a nurse educator.

The Raffkind Fund, which was established through the AC Foundation, gives first preference to employees of The Arbors, particularly those who demonstrate financial need. This will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Myrna, who in 2010 was named the Amarillo Globe-News Woman of the Year.

The honor was bestowed largely due to her longtime advocacy of the region’s poor through membership in the Amarillo Coalition for the Homeless and several like-minded community efforts.

“People don’t realize that it takes so little to make a big difference,” Myrna said. “Showing someone that you care, that you believe they are worth investing in – even if it’s just a small amount – so often makes a huge impact.

“A little bit goes a long way,” she said.

Anyone can establish a scholarship fund, or make a contribution to an established one, by calling the AC Foundation at (806) 371-5107. It’s the inspired thing to do.