DOBSON — The Surry Community College Foundation has been working for two years on raising money towards a $4.2 million capital campaign goal, and just more than a week ago, the foundation began its public portion of the fundraising efforts.
The money raised will be used for development at the main Dobson campus and at the Yadkin Center in Yadkinville, explained Marion Venable, executive director for the SCC Foundation. “It was kind of the brainchild of the college foundation board. As funding has been curtailed at the state level for all community colleges, we realized if we were going to be able to do major projects we were going to have to raise some money,” she said.
In its more than 50 years of operation, SCC has never done a capital campaign prior to this one, Venable said. But Lucy Chatham, who was the chair of the foundation board at the time and had been involved in campaigns at other locations, encouraged the board to move forward with the campaign.
“She encouraged the group to take this on, and everyone really and truly got it,” Venable said of Chatham.
First discussion was to go with a $2 million campaign, but the board knew it would take much more than that to complete the projects planned — development of the newly acquired 58-acre property between Main Street and U.S. 601 across from the existing main campus, and the construction of a new industrial training center in Yadkinville on the satellite campus. So the board decided to go with the $4.2 million goal.
To kick off the campaign, the foundation began by approaching individuals and businesses who are the main stakeholders for the college, including granting organizations. Venable said they were able to secure grants from Duke Energy Foundation, Mebane Foundation, Cannon Foundation, Golden LEAF Foundation and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“All of those foundations gave us grants. It was just wonderful,” Venable said. “We got that support, and we got support from individuals and businesses and industries who really bought into the idea.”
That idea is just how many people Surry Community College has touched and continues to touch, whether it be as students, continuing education students, nurses who trained there and then attended to a family member, or police officers and firefighters who were trained there and then saved someone’s life or property.
The brochure that was sent out to all of the postal boxes in Surry and Yadkin counties recently focuses on “Shaping the Future. Together.” It is a piece that describes the work to be done at the two sites, and also updates the public on how SCC has changed and what it has become.
“We felt that this is something new for our area. We’ve never done a capital campaign, we’d never gone out in a mass plea to the community for help, but we did feel like these projects are so important to the future of the community and opportunities for our students and the economic well-being of the area,” Venable said. “This is something we felt truly the public would want to be a part of.”
The industrial training center at the Yadkin Center originally had been planned for 5,000 square feet, but Venable said thanks to the grants and the passage of the state Connect NC Bond, SCC has been able to increase its vision to create a 12,450 square foot training facility.
Already, with the opening of Yadkin County’s new agricultural center on the Yadkin Center property, SCC students are able to complete their college transfer degrees without leaving the county. With the new industrial training center, Venable said they will be able to gain their complete training in welding, machining, mechatronics, electrical systems and electrical engineering.
“We’ve developed a really good relationship with business and industry in our two-county service area, and we are hearing they don’t have the technical workforce they need, and this was the opportunity for us to build that. Suddenly we have an opportunity to make that possible and make pathways for Yadkin County residents to move from our programs straight into jobs in Yadkin County,” Venable said of the Yadkin Center expansion.
The new facility also will house a dedicated space for the college’s truck driver training program, and it will be able to become a nationally certified program, she said.
The 58-acre site in Dobson is being coined as an innovation campus. It now is the site of a new vineyard planted four years ago for the viticulture program.
“The property will have public walking trails kept in a natural setting with native planting to give the public the opportunity to use the property,” Venable said. “We are going to develop the area so we can more easily sponsor some events, with a kind-of outdoor event setting.”
The property will include an original tobacco barn as a salute to the area’s agricultural heritage which will become the centerpiece for the outdoor event area, she explained. A pond on the property provides the opportunity to develop an amphitheater type area to be used for events or as an outdoor classroom.
Also, a unique house built on the property by Dan Jackson, who used a number of historic building materials, will remain and the plan is for it to become a classroom setting for the winemaking class focusing on wine tasting room set ups, and for meeting space. “Also, the light construction students will work there to make it a sustainable property with solar and the most efficient ways to insulate and heat houses,” Venable said of other programs to benefit from the new property.
The Dobson property also has a building corridor designed into it, so that when the college has a need arise for a new building in the future, that is already built into the design concept.
The college was able to receive the help of Surry and Yadkin natives on the planning and designing of both sites. Thomas Hughes, owner of Divine Llama and an architect, developed the new building for the industrial training center in Yadkin County. Thomas Woltz, an internationally renowned landscape architect who grew up in Mount Airy and now has offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and New York City, provided the design for the 58-acre site in Dobson.
The SCC Foundation still has about $700,000 left to reach its goal to completely fund the projects, Venable said.
The Yadkin Center’s industrial training center is expected to open to students in the fall of 2018.
She said the first day the brochure went out to the public, Dr. David Shockley, SCC president, texted her and said he’d gotten his at home and he’d already put money in it and sent it back. “He wanted to be the first to give,” she said.
But he wasn’t the only one eager to contribute. Venable received another donation the same day she got Shockley’s. It had $1 in it, and a simple message, “I wish it could be more.”
“What a great way to start a campaign, with your president donating and someone who loves Surry Community College so much they gave what they could,” she said.
Those interested in donating to SCC Foundation’s capital campaign can do so by visiting the college’s website, surry.edu, and clicking on Shaping the Future. Together., to be directed to a site to contribute online. Also, checks can be sent to Marion Venable, c/o SCC Foundation, 630 S. Main St., Dobson, NC 27017.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.