COA gala raises $82K

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The College of The Albemarle Foundation held it's 6th annual fundraising event, "An Evening Among The Stars," at the K.E. White Graduate Center, Saturday.


By Mike Bollinger
Staff Writer

Monday, September 26, 2016

College of The Albemarle alumni stars turned out Saturday night to help raise about $82,000 for student scholarships. While the amount raised fell just shy of the goal, officials are still excited about the results.

Lisa Johnson, executive director of the COA Foundation, said Saturday night’s 6th annual fundraiser, “An Evening Among the Stars,” raised about $82,000 for student scholarships. While the goal was to raise $100,000, Johnson said she was still pleased.

“While we have a goal in mind, it's just that, a goal. All money raised from the event will greatly assist our students with scholarships. And if we end up at $82,000, that is phenomenal,” Johnson said. “We truly have such tremendous support from our local businesses and many of our community members. They know and understand how College of The Albemarle can transform the lives of students in our region.”

The gala was held at the K.E. White Graduate Center and featured alumni stars and community partners. Alumni stars are COA graduates who began their higher education at COA and then either transferred to a four-year college of university or put the skills they learned at COA to enter the workforce, Johnson said. A student could save about $40,000 by completing their first two years of college at COA, she said.

 One of the alumni stars featured Saturday night was David Harris of Elizabeth City. After graduating from high school in 1965, Harris said he completed two years at COA and then transferred to East Carolina. He said starting at COA made it possible for him to finish college with no debt.

“Without COA, it would not have been possible for me to get a four-year degree,” Harris said.

He went on to work nine years as a manager with Dominion Power and 28 more as vice-president of administration for J.W. Jones Lumber Co. Harris now sits on the COA Board of Trustees.

“COA gave me a start. I want to give back to somebody else, so hopefully the younger people that come along can have the same opportunity I had,” Harris said. “COA has done a lot of good for a lot of people for a lot of years.”

Johnson explained that community partners are local businesses throughout the COA service area that provide monetary support for the foundation. In return, they are promoted as a partner by the college.

“These business believe in what the college does. They support our students and support our faculty and staff,” she said. “In return, we help promote that they support us.”

Chris Haddock of First Citizens Bank said COA provides an invaluable community service.

“This is something we want to be a part of and support. COA is a key to the success of Elizabeth City and northeastern North Carolina,” Haddock said. “We do all we can to support that effort.” 

Craig Lewis of Sentara Albemarle Medical Center said COA has a number of clinical programs and many of the medical center's employees are COA graduates. He said Sentara Albemarle has had a great partnership with COA for many years and wants to see that partnership continue.

“This event is important because it involves so many people with COA,” said Jeff Aldridge, COA Foundation board president and a community partner with the G.R. Little Agency. “This is our biggest event of the year. It's important that we continue to get the support of the community.”

He said the community partners are important because COA is important to the economy of northeastern North Carolina. He said the foundation scholarships help many who otherwise could not attend college to do so.

“COA has changed the lives of so many people and is a huge economic engine for the area,” Aldridge said. “Our company has supported COA for many years and intends to keep doing so.” 

COA President Kandi Deitemeyer said the gala funds the mission of what COA wants to accomplish. She said most of the money raised goes toward scholarships and some goes to professional development for faculty and staff.

“I think people give to people as opposed to organizations, and they see the investment we have made here,” Deitemeyer said. “We are celebrating a great year and our significance, and we want to remind folks we are connected to so many people and things in the community.” 

A major feature of the 6th annual event was the “Bling Ring.” Guests can purchase light-up rings for $20 each and play a coin toss game to determine the winner of a piece of jewelry. This year's prize was donated by Saslow's Jewelers in Southgate Mall. The winner was Erin Nixon of Long and Foster Real Estate, one of the event's community partners.

“Most importantly, the annual fundraising event supports the COA Foundation's efforts to ensure that COA continues to deliver on its promise to transform lives and communities,” Johnson said.



The College of The Albemarle Foundation held it's 6th annual fundraising event, "An Evening Among The Stars," at the K.E. White Graduate Center, Saturday.

The Tidewater Drive Band performs at the COA Foundation's 6th annual fundraising event, "An Evening Among The Stars," at K.E. White Center, Saturday.

Kathleen McCaslin sports a dozen "Bling Rings" on her hand, Saturday. Each ring purchase symbolized a chance to win a prize from Saslow's Jewelers at Southgate Mall.