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Irwin Phelps Scholarship

Quick Guide

Scholarship General Information

Affirmation offers financial assistance to help members who could not otherwise afford to attend conference. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need and contributions to Affirmation, such as activity or willingness to volunteer for service. Funds are limited and scholarships are awarded on a "first-come, first served" basis and only to those who establish a definite need for assistance.

If you have funds available, we encourage you to make a donation to the Irwin Phelps Scholarship Fund when you complete your registration form. If a lack of funds is the only thing keeping you from conference, we heartily encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

The scholarship fund was established in memory of Irwin Phelps, Affirmation’s Executive Director in 1992, Conference Director, Mortensen Award recipient, and Phoenix Chapter Leader. The assistance provided is a 50% reduction in conference registration fees in effect at the time of your application. Regrettably we cannot provide assistance with hotel rooms or airfare.

Scholarships are available only for current Affirmation members, but we will accept a membership application or renewal and scholarship application simultaneously. Please do not wait until the last minute to inquire about scholarships!

→ Read more information about the Irwin Phelps Scholarship Fund and its history

Irwin Phelps

Irwin Phelps was one of those people whose great love and commitment truly embody the spirit of Affirmation. He was known as the "heart" of the Phoenix Chapter. He served continuously in both national and local offices from the time that he joined Affirmation, despite problematic heath, demands of family and employment. He was a communications professor at Mesa Community College, and was gifted with many creative talents and was involved in a number of well-known church projects. Most noted of these was the writing and direction of the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant, an event that initially drew 1,500 people but quickly grew to over 70,000.

Affirmation leader Ricky Gilbert said of Irwin, “He was very thoughtful and thorough in everything he did. He was sort of like a grandfather. He reminded me a lot of my own grandfather. He always had a welcome hug. It illustrated that he really cared for you.”

“From Irwin, I learned what it meant to be a leader who listens, who shows compassion and understanding, who is dedicated to a worthy cause despite all obstacles,” said former Affirmation Executive Director Rick Fernandez. “ Affirmation is a much better organization because of what Irwin gave to us. I hope that his outstanding example will continue to motivate and inspire each of us to value the work that Affirmation does, and to value each other.”

Irwin Phelps died Septeber25, 1992, just days after the 1992 Affirmation Conference, and the day before his 57th birthday.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship, send an email with your name, address, contact information, and the reason for your request to David Melson ( . You may also mail your request to:

Attn: Irwin Phelps Scholarship
P.O. Box 77504
Washington, DC 20013

Scholarship participants are expected to be willing to provide assistance during the conference if requested by the conference committee.

Closing Thoughts

Irwin’s concluding remarks at the 1992 conference, his sixth, reveal some of the significance of this great man: “It's not easy for us. Being Lesbian or Gay is a big enough job all by itself, but we're Mormon and Lesbian of Gay and we ought to be awfully proud of it. I'm proud of you. I wish you the best in all your endeavors; your goals for life.

“Think good of yourself. Think highly of yourself in everything that you do. Believe in yourself. I teach college. I teach interpersonal communication and that's the most important thing I can teach my students: believe in yourself. It's not just as simple as it sounds, it's very hard. Self-esteem is something that has a lot of peaks and a lot of valleys. One thing to remember about it is that it never stays the same. Just because you may be on a plateau right now, doesn't mean that there's not going to be a valley sometime soon.

“I have seen so many peaks and so many valleys in my life (some of you know me and know about them); [I've come] to realize that we have to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and say, "I'm an OK person in spite of…, and I'm going to succeed, darn it. I'm going to be the best person I can be. And I love myself." And I love you. We'll close with this thought: Leo di Crescenzo said this, "We are each of us Angels with only one wing, and we only fly embracing each other. Let's unitedly go forward. I love you all. Good-bye."

by Dave Melson

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