Why We Give - Sharon Donath
While driving through rural Sheboygan County en route to Lakeland College one late summer morning, Sharon Donath glanced through her window at a field of robust, thriving soybean plants.
“I couldn’t help but think, just as the fertile soil near Lakeland College helps plants grow, fertile minds have long been cultivated at Lakeland College,” she said. “We needed a little fertilizer and some water, but at Lakeland, we all bloomed.”
To say Lakeland College is important to Robert and Sharon Donath is to understate the impact the school has had on their lives. They met at Mission House, where both graduated in 1952 before getting married. Their daughter, Deborah Ansay, is a Lakeland College graduate and current member of the Board of Trustees, and two nephews are also Lakeland grads.
“Lakeland is a family affair, and it’s such a wonderful place,” says Sharon with a big smile. “Everyone knew each other, and we all made such deep, lasting, lifelong friendships. If I’d have gone to Madison, I’d have been home in a month, because I’d have been lost in the swim of things. At Lakeland, it’s like going to a favorite aunt’s house.”
Robert and Sharon are so fond of their Lakeland memories, they help ensure that many young people experience similar journeys. Through their generous donations, the Donaths continuously help fund scholarships for students with financial needs.
“Anytime you can help someone get a good education, that’s worthwhile and it feels good,” says Robert.
After serving his country in World War II, Robert weighed his options. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, he was able to attend Lakeland – an experience that shaped his life in ways he never imagined back then.
“But not everyone was fortunate enough to be able to go to school on the G.I. Bill,” says Sharon.
So the Donaths have funded need-based scholarships for more than a dozen Lakeland students. They’ve received Christmas cards from many of them for years.
“Lakeland College is the best place you can put your money,” Sharon says. “It’s a wonderful investment, because you get so many great returns.”