Published: Aug 14, 2013 6:52 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 14, 2013 6:58 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee Memorial Health System awarded 192 people a total of almost $300,000 in grant money today.

Lee Memorial Health System annually awards educational grants to employees and volunteers, their family members and local residents who are in financial need and interested in pursuing a career in a health-related profession. They take applications in February.

One of this year's recipients is Jackie Lugo, a respiratory therapist at Cape Coral Hospital. She went back to school a few years ago for health care, and is continuing her studies thanks to the grant program.

She says, "going to school is expensive especially for a single mother on my own, so I'm so thankful for Lee Memorial, the donors." She says they make her feel like part of a family. She received $1500 in grant money last year and $1800 this year. She says it's like living her dream.

Randy Toscano with Human Resources at LMHS says, "it's very critical for us to be able to develop our workforce for the future but for the community to have the number of caregivers that we're going to need."

Educational grants have been provided by the Lee Memorial Auxiliary, Cape Coral Hospital Auxiliary and Gulf Coast Medical Center Auxiliary.  The Lee Memorial Health System Foundation also provides grants through donor support from:  The Eloise M. Carlson Education Grant Fund; Jim Nathan Endowment Fund; Edward and Florence Budzinski Scholarship Fund; Madeleine R. Taeni Nursing Education Fund; Nathan Family Educational Excellence Fund; Robert and Frances Feuchter Endowment for Nursing and Healthcare Education Scholarships.