Left to right: Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC President, Janice Kulynych Story, Arnold Lakey, WCC Foundation President, Brenda Kulynych Cline, Allison Phillips, WCC VP Institutional Advancement

Kulynych Family Foundations I & II, each led respectively by Brenda Kulynych Cline and her sister, Janice Kulynych Story, recently donated real estate, personal property, and cash equaling $1 million to support the establishment of the “Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program” at Wilkes Community College (WCC), in honor of their father, Petro Kulynych (1921-2015.)

The chief goal of the Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program is to increase the number of students earning credentials that support workforce needs and provide a family-sustaining income. Advisors will be paired with students from admission through graduation, serving as the students’ academic success course instructor in their first semester. Advisors will assist students with career and academic planning, monitor student progress, and refer students to support services as needed. The new advising model complements and extends the individualized attention being provided in high schools by Robert L. Strickland Career Coaches, who are WCC employees based in area high schools and dedicated to serving the high school student population in their academic and career planning. The Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program will begin operation during the 2019 fall semester.

The enthusiasm and support shared by Brenda Kulynych Cline and Janice Kulynych Story extends beyond financial contributions and ties to the positive legacy of their father.

“The Kulynych Family Foundation I, Inc. is honored to partner in this endeavor,” commented Brenda Kulynych Cline, “to enrich each student’s educational experience and increase the graduating population of Wilkes Community College. The opportunity for a personalized guidance-based program aligns with the philosophy of our Foundation Guidelines and the philanthropic lives my parents led. The administration and staff are enthusiastically involved, and I have confidence in the success of the Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program.”

On behalf of The Kulynych Family Foundation II, Inc. Janice Kulynych Story observed: “Although my father only completed a portion of some college accounting courses, he always stressed that education was a top priority. He was forced to leave those studies to support his growing family and was lucky to find a job with Carl Buchan at Lowe’s Companies. He became successful through tenacity and a willingness to work hard. His favorite saying was ‘Do what you are told to do and then, do 10% more – make yourself needed!’ As quoted from the well-known Broadway hit, Hamilton, ‘A legacy is planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.’ I believe this statement perfectly summarizes the desire and dedication to helping others my parents instilled in me throughout their lifetime. They left our family with an amazing opportunity to invest in the community where I/we grew up and help improve the lives of our neighbors, not only in Wilkes, but throughout the nation. I hope this gift will assist Wilkes Community College in guiding and directing students down ‘their’ best path to attain marketable skills which in turn, will open doors to a job that provides a family sustaining income, as well as a true sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Petro Kulynych, who originally built and resided in the home that was donated to the college, was one of the founding directors of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Kulynych joined Lowe’s in November 1946 as a bookkeeper and was the company’s first employee. During his Lowe’s career, Kulynych served in various positions such as vice chairman, executive vice president under the office of president, chairman of the board, secretary of the investment sub-committee of the Lowe’s Profit-Sharing Plan & Trust, co-trustee of the Lowe’s Companies Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and chairman and president of the Lowe’s Charitable & Educational Foundation.

After retiring, Petro Kulynych, along with his wife, Roena Mae Bullis Kulynych (1921-2002) remained in Wilkesboro and their philanthropic activities grew when they established foundations that have supported educational institutions, service organizations, and other nonprofits as well as various causes in Wilkes and other area counties with grants and donations. The N.C. Planned Giving Council named Mr. and Mrs. Kulynych philanthropists of the year in 1998.

“This generous gift from Kulynych Family Foundations I & II will be transformational for Wilkes Community College and the students we serve,” said Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president. “Spurred on by the encouragement, strategic thinking, and funding support of Janice, Brenda, and their families, we are creating an advising program like none other in the country. I cannot wait to see its positive impact on our students.”