Niagara Gazette

June 5, 2014

Mark 'Chief' Williams Scholarship set to help 10 graduating Falls seniors

By Marisa Religa ngedit@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A scholarship created in memory of a Niagara Falls man known for his work with young people, will be awarded to 10 graduating seniors at Niagara Falls High School.

The Mark ‘Chief’ Williams Scholarship was first established in 2007 in memory of Mark Williams who passed away in 2005 after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Williams was known by many in the community for his volunteer work, dedicating much of his time to the youth of Niagara Falls. He worked as a manager at Wilson Farms and spent his free time volunteering for the YMCA and Niagara PAL.

“Mark was the most consistent and constant volunteer I’ve ever seen in my life. When he wasn’t working he was helping others. He was a great mentor for a lot of the kids. From coaching basketball to kids at the beginner level up to the competitive high school level, to refereeing games five nights a week, to delivering presents to needy kids at Christmas time, he was always giving himself to the community,” said Sal Constantino, teaching assistant at NFHS and one of Williams’ best friends. The two met and connected through their work with the youth basketball team at the YMCA.

Tony D’Angelo, who also spent many years working with Williams and the Niagara PAL youth basketball team, describes what a great impact he made on the community.

“Mark was a quiet guy, but when he spoke everyone listened because everyone respected him. Everyone who knew him knew he was a good man. He was the best man I ever met in my life; he was selfless, a fabulous role model, and he had a natural ability to connect with kids,” he said.

Constantino and D’Angelo began the scholarship eight years ago as a tribute to their dear friend. Each year friends, family, teachers and coaches who knew Williams get together for a one-night event to raise money for the cause. After this year they will have awarded a total of $30,000 to students.

Starting out small, the first year they awarded four seniors with $500 toward their college tuition. This year they will award 10 graduating seniors going to college.

“You don’t necessarily have to be an athlete or have the highest GPA to be eligible for the scholarship,” Constantino explained. “We look for kids who mirror what Mark was about; kids who are setting good examples for the community.”

“The scholarship is our opportunity to give both Mark and the kids at NFHS recognition; it’s a double win for all,” he said.

The Mark ‘Chief’ Williams scholarships will be awarded at senior night at NFHS on Wednesday.

The following seniors will receive the Mark ‘Chief’ Williams Scholarship: Abby Edwards, Raven Dolson, Hailey Johnson, Catherine Boyle, Maya Feagin, Jake Martineau, Jenna Sliwowski, Marlasia Feagin, Asia Moore, and Jessica Smith.