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Sunset & Vine draws strong support

ELIZABETHTOWN — Sweet wine was from the vines. Smiles and the gentle conversation was fellowship around the college.

Brought together for a successful philanthropic evening, a couple hundred poured through Sunset & Vine in the twilight of a resplendent fall evening on Thursday at Lu Mil Vineyard. Friends of the Bladen Community College Foundation dined on seafood, tasted sweet treats and selected opportunities to see more of the grounds.

A double-decker, open top bus ferried some through the vineyards. Others took a peek in the gift shop for early Christmas ideas, or mingled and networked near a bar and the hors d’oeuvres.

They came unsure of what changes the eighth annual would present, and most left with a general feeling of warmth and welcome. Plus a little more knowledge about the college.

Two former presidents, Drs. William Findt and Darrell Page, glad-handed many donors as first-year President Dr. Amanda Lee spoke with just about if not everyone. State House Rep. William Brisson attended, as did a number of other elected officials from the county, its municipalities and most all of the college trustees.

“We will look at scholarship needs, and then go in the direction the college and foundation deems is necessary,” said Linda Burney, the director of the foundation and this event’s lead planner. “When the foundation was brought into being, it was simply a repository to receive funds. And that’s really what it is today.”

Early indications were that last year’s giving total was eclipsed.

“It’s an opportunity for us to say thank you,” Lee said. “So often, we never have the opportunity to say that. What an opportunity to bring them together to celebrate the college.

“The investment they’re making is worthwhile. The students, the education they’re receiving, the things they’re learning, will impact our community. The investment is a good, wise, safe investment.”

The speaking program was brief and on point. Burney, Lee, Dennis Troy and Barbara Knight all offered encouraging words. Troy is the chairman of the trustees, and Knight is chairwoman of the foundation.

They were followed by Ricky Leinwand, a trustee who earned 12 hours of credits at the old college location on U.S. 701 south of Elizabethtown before he went to UNC Chapel Hill. His testimonial included several lighter moments, and a heartfelt appreciation for the start of his postsecondary education.

“This a community investment, this college, that’s why its called Bladen Community College,” Burney said. “Every citizen has a chance to get an education.”

And the foundation, through its supporters, helps make it possible for many.

“They came, they participated, and they made a difference by doing so,” Burney said. “Anybody at any given time has the ability to make a difference.”

They did just that Thursday night.

Article originally contributed to Bladen Online’s 2020 edition of  Bladen County Beautiful magazine.

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