Community College philanthropists honored

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) has earned the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy.

This organization was nominated to receive the award by Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC).

The award was given at a luncheon ceremony at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.

Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, the 11th annual event honored leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation.

This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of more than $11 million to Virginia’s community colleges.

In March, SVCC launched the Power Line Worker Training School and the VMDAEC has been instrumental in the establishment and continuation of this program.

Power Line Worker Training offers tremendous opportunities for students and electric utilities, college officials said. Graduating students receive credentials that confer a significant advantage in the utility job market, giving them entry into a career path that leads to a well-paying occupation.

Electric utilities gain potential employees trained in safety and with the skills necessary to enter the profession at a time when many current line workers will soon be eligible for retirement.

In addition to helping community college students realize their dreams of continuing their education, keynote speaker Mike Petters, VFCCE board member and president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, said donors also play a critical role in Virginia’s workforce development efforts.

“By supporting the foundation, you support access, affordability, and student success at every one of Virginia’s Community Colleges across the state from Big Stone Gap in southwestern Virginia to Melfa on the Eastern Shore — and 21 community colleges in between.”

Graciela Billingsley, this year’s Eva T. Hardy Commonwealth Scholarship recipient, took to the podium to thank her benefactor.

“This scholarship — you — have truly impacted my life because in continuing my higher education at Northern Virginia Community College, I will be able to continue to learn important course work that will be the foundation to my future.”