L-R: Allison Phillips, executive director, WCC Foundation; Connie McNeill, 2016 volunteer of the year; Ann Showalter Graves, 2017 volunteer of the year; Debbie Cangiolosi, senior customer service specialist; Denna Foster Parsons, volunteer coordinator; Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president

Wilkes Community College held its 27th Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception on Thursday, March 1, to celebrate the contribution volunteers make to the success of the college. Approximately 160 guests enjoyed the food, fellowship and festivities of the evening. Volunteers serve many areas of the college including departments, boards, MerleFest and the Walker Center. In 2017, 4,797 volunteers gave 48,817 hours of service to Wilkes Community College.

Denna Foster Parsons, volunteer coordinator thanked the guests for attending the reception. She added, “We honor the devotion, dedication and countless hours shared by the volunteers with the college. This is a time to celebrate you and what you do to make our college special each year.”

WCC President Dr. Jeff Cox told the volunteers, “It is my honor to be here tonight to thank you for all that you do. This dinner is just a small token of our appreciation for you and all that you do for the college. There are many individuals in this room tonight who have been volunteering with the college for as many as 20 years. Many pass their volunteer positions down to their children who pick up where their parents left off. I have never seen such a caring community with your devotion to this college. We thank you, and we truly appreciate your service to our college and our community.” 

The event culminated with the naming of volunteer of the year. Connie McNeill, last year’s recipient presented volunteer Ann Showalter Graves with the Chloe Sturdivant Award of Appreciation for Volunteer Excellence. Debbie Cangiolosi, senior customer service specialist, presented Ms. Graves’ nomination to the award committee.

Connie McNeill stated, “Probably the most wonderful thing about Ann, other than the fact that she will help wherever and whenever needed, is that she is so personable and friendly, always with a story to tell and smile on her face. We’re happy we’ve been blessed to have her right by our side for so many years. Ann has been volunteering for Wilkes Community College for many years. Some of the things she has been involved with include helping decorate the 16 ft. Walker Center Christmas tree. The tree is a delight to the community and Ann is always willing and able to assist. During Merlefest she wears many hats, and her assistance is invaluable to the staff.

“The Chloe Sturdivant Award of Appreciation for Volunteer Excellence is named for Chloe Sturdivant, who volunteered faithfully at WCC approximately 20 years. She served as the first MerleFest volunteer coordinator, and her impact at the college was felt from every corner of the campus,” Parsons said. “She volunteered for Walker Center season and school shows, gave tours of the WCC gardens, helped with the annual golf tournament, and did anything else that she saw needed to be done to make Wilkes Community College a better place. She volunteered with enthusiasm and grace.”

In keeping with the theme for the evening, Our Volunteers are Unforgettable, the tables were decorated with Forget Me Knot flowers.

Billy Gee, Donnie Story, Randy Gambill and Mel Jones volunteered their time and talents to provide live musical entertainment throughout the night’s event.

WCC extends special thanks to our sponsor, Wake Forest Baptist Health-Wilkes Medical Center. Recognition was also given to Belk, Duane Cornett, Gardner Glass Products, Johnson Limited (custom framed MerleFest posters), MerleFest Merchandise, Michael Wingler, Southern Candle, Two Rivers Cinema, WCC Absher Bookstore, and the WCC Foundation for their ongoing support of the Volunteer Recognition Reception with door prize donations.

For information on volunteer opportunities with Wilkes Community College, The Walker Center and MerleFest, contact Denna Foster Parsons at 336-838-6262.