ECA Past President Carrie Ehlers saw her world through the lens of giving. Giving her time, talents, knowledge, and friendship – always with her passionate approach. In 2008, Carrie’s life was suddenly taken from her family, friends, colleagues, and countless others whom her spirit touched. Those who knew Carrie have found a way to press on with her spirit of giving. The Carrie Ehler’s Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by the ECA to honor the memory of its Past President.
How does one measure the impact of a person’s life? Some say it’s measured by fame. Others contend invention and discovery, or a life of scholarly endeavors. Perhaps it’s religious teachings, counseling, medicine, or public service.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Maya Angelou remarked, “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”
The giving of time, talents, and money is certainly a way to measure the positive effect one makes on others. We see this play out in many ways. By being a friend. By passionately helping others. By mentoring. By caring about our work and doing the best we can with our abilities. These acts of compassion and service happen in the background, without fanfare, awards or speeches. In measures large and small, they make the world a better place.
ECA Past President Carrie Ehlers saw her world through the lens of giving. Giving her time, talents, knowledge, and friendship – always with her passionate approach. We may never know all the names of those whose lives were made better because of Carrie. In 2008, Carrie’s life was suddenly taken from her family, friends, colleagues, and countless others whom her spirit touched. Although the number of all whose lives were uplifted by Carrie can never be counted, those who knew, worked, laughed, played, and served with her have found a way to press on with her spirit of giving. The Carrie Ehler’s Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by the ECA to honor the memory of its Past President, Carrie Ehlers. Each year, the fund will award scholarships to deserving female students – one to a student at Carroll University and one to a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business. The essence of the scholarship supports young women in business.
Janice Westrom was co-owner of United Express System in Chicago when she first met Carrie at an ECA MarketPlace. “Her company, her friendships, and her family were Carrie’s heart and soul,” she said. “She was a loving mother, a wonderful wife, and a dynamic businesswoman. She mentored young women in college who wanted someday to be in business. And she donated many hours to local charities.”
Janice’s husband Brad Westrom, a Past President of ECA, remembers Carrie as “a very wonderful businesswoman. She with Pam Witt purchased Bonded Transportation Solutions, and they created probably the best-known courier business in the Wisconsin region.”
Chris Jenkins is President of On-Time Delivery in Pittsburgh. “I first met Carrie in the early 1990’s at an Avon Package Delivery Meeting. Carrie was a forerunner when it came to women in leadership,” said Chris. “In our business, when it comes down to it, it’s all about service, and she was just a really wonderful leader, a good friend, and a great role model, for me and many others in our business.”
Rod Steinbrook of Data Rush Couriers in Houston worked with Carrie as a fellow ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance Board member. “One of the takeaways that I got from Carrie was she cared a lot,” Rod remembers. “She was very passionate about the delivery industry and what she did in life.”
Stuart Hyden, another ECA Past President, said that, “Carrie came on to the ECA Board, and I could tell right away that she had something extra. She was dynamic and thoughtful. She ended up becoming President of the organization, and a very good one at that. It was during that time that I learned more about her passion for the ECA, the direction that she saw it going in, where the ECA needed to grow. One of those areas was to establish a scholarship for young women in business, so that they would be able to pursue their dreams.”
Pam Witt, now President of Bonded Transportation Solutions in Milwaukee, worked at Bonded with Carrie’s father. She first met Carrie when Carrie was a teenager and would often visit the office. She and Carrie eventually bought and managed the company together.
“In 2008, Carrie passed away sadly,” said Pam. “At that time, she was President of the ECA. The Board, at the direction of Stuart and Brad, decided that a scholarship through the ECA in her name would be a great way to honor her and expand women in business.”
“We created the scholarship so Carrie would not be forgotten, and so some young women would benefit from Carrie’s hard work and leadership – so that they too could be successful in life,” Stuart said. “We established the scholarship in 2009 and started off very humbly with small donations, until we were able to get the fund vested at $25,000,” he said. “We then gave out our first scholarship.”
Kayla Potter was the first recipient of the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship. “I am proud to say that I was the first recipient of the scholarship from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee,” she said. “I hope the scholarship can continue to help women in the future reach their full potential and help others like it helped me.”
Mikayla Martin, another recipient of the Scholarship, said that she “started out as a college freshman with this enormous goal of graduating without any student loans, and by the grace of God and generous givers like you I was able to achieve my goal. So, thanks to you I am able to jump into this next phase of life debt free.” A good thing indeed.
Nicole Wiske comments that she “received the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship and within a year I graduated from the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee with a double major in accounting and finance. Everything that I have done is from the help of the scholarship.”
“Today thanks to your generous support, the fund has grown to more than $126,685,” said Stuart, “and we’re able to give out multiple scholarships to deserving women.”
And as for the women who have been the beneficiaries of the scholarship, Pam knows that “Carrie would have been proud of each one of them, and with your help, we can continue to grow the fund and the good that it does.”
“We ask that you continue to support the scholarship fund,” Stuart emphasized. “We ask for your donations, and we’re asking you to do this in the memory of Carrie, who had such a great vision for the ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance and was very proud of being a part of it.” You can make a donation to the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship here.
Educator, orator, author, and presidential advisor Booker T. Washington advocated the relationship between living a life of service, giving to others, and personal fulfillment. Washington was among the last generation of African American leaders born into slavery and became a leading voice for former slaves and their descendants. A proponent of education, Washington was named the founding leader of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University. Proceeds from his paid lectures and speaking engagements were channeled by Washington not only into Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes but hundreds of rural public schools benefiting education for the Black community. His words on the relationship of a life of service, giving, and fulfillment are direct and simple but profound. “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others,” he said.
Those of us fortunate to have known, worked, laughed, and strived to do good with Carrie Ehlers were lucky. Having been touched by Carrie’s passionate approach to everything she did as mother, wife, business executive, mentor, giver, and much more, the ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance is dedicated to preserving her memory and her work.
The ECA considers support of the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship Fund as one small way of continuing her life of service. We are happy that many women students have benefited from the Scholarship and from Carrie’s passion for their success. The ECA’s hope is that our members, and those who attend the upcoming MarketPlace, feel the fulfillment and happiness that Carrie had in a life of service and giving of her time, talents, and passions.
The ECA MarketPlace will be held April 11 – 13, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. Along with our one-of-a-kind opportunity for shippers and carriers to participate in scheduled business opportunity meetings and networking, there will be plenty of opportunities to give to the Carrie Ehlers Memorial Scholarship. The MarketPlace’s annual golf tournament is one such opportunity, as well as through raffles, karaoke, and more. Reserve your place today in the MarketPlace. Forge new relationships, add to capacity, strengthen your network, and find solutions for supply chain issues. Most importantly, we urge you to carry on the spirit of service instilled by Carrie by participating in our fundraising events for the Scholarship. In doing so, we honor Carrie and her spirit of giving by helping more young women fulfill their dreams.