Foundation News

Check out the latest Foundation News!

Foundation News Feed

Nov 15, 2018

You gather with your family to give thanks on Thursday. You line up for the sales on Friday. You scour the online deals on Monday. And now... you can give back on Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is a global movement that sets aside a day after the holiday craziness for giving back to the people and organizations that shape our lives for the better all year long. Seven years strong, this day of giving is fueled by big hearts and an even bigger purpose: to make positive change happen.

Stay tuned for how Southwestern Community College is joining the #GivingTuesday movement across the world, and check out the Giving Tuesday website here for more information.

If you would like to give back to the community
before Tuesday, Nov. 27 please use the button above! 


Nov 14, 2018

Two ladies pose for a photo inside SCC's Burrell Building in Sylva.
Brenda Oliver Holt (right) is pictured here with Terran Jordan, the first recipient of a scholarship recently endowed in Mrs. Holt’s honor.

Brenda Oliver Holt held a special place in her husband’s heart.

So did Southwestern Community College.

A few months before W. Paul Holt, Jr., passed away this summer, the longtime SCC Trustee found a way to simultaneously honor his wife and also support students at the college he served for more than half a century as he established the “Brenda Oliver Holt Endowed Nursing Scholarship” through the SCC Foundation.

The scholarship was set up in honor of the Holts’ wedding anniversary, and it will be awarded annually to a student who’s been accepted into SCC’s Nursing program.

“I am deeply moved by such a generous gift,” Mrs. Holt said. “My sincere hope is that many students will be able to have careers in the nursing profession for years to come.”

The first scholarship was awarded this fall to Terran Jordan, an SCC Nursing student.

Over a 38-year nursing career, Mrs. Holt served in neonatal, school and surgical nursing. Most of her career was in operating room nursing, and she spent several years as Director of the Operating Room at Sylva’s Harris Regional Hospital.

 “My lifelong desire to become a nurse began in my early years when I had an illness that required weekly visits to a doctor's office,” Mrs. Holt recalled. “The nurse was so kind and inspired me to follow her example.

“Nursing school was a great learning experience for me, and I embraced the challenges each specialty area presented,” she added. “The field of nursing is very rewarding. The appreciation you experience from people you have helped makes the long hours and hard work worthwhile.”

Outside the realm of healthcare, Mrs. Holt served for 11 years as a board member and 17 years as Mayor for the Town of Sylva.

Paul Holt was a founding member of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees, and he established the SCC Foundation in 1973. He served on SCC’s board for 53 years, making him the longest-serving Trustee in N.C. Community College history.

For more information about Nursing and other Health Sciences programs at Southwestern, visit

To learn more about endowments and other ways to support SCC students, contact Brett Woods at 828.339.4241 or b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

Oct 31, 2018

By: Kaitlyn Carver

SYLVA – For SCC employee and Macon County native Tyler Cook, his aunt’s lasting legacy was a cause worth fighting for.

Cook’s great aunt, Eva McCall, was a Macon county native, a beautician by trade and an author with passion. She wrote several novels throughout her life, publishing her first in 1997, even inspiring Cook to become an author himself.

“Endowing this scholarship is just a small way to honor Eva, who did more for me than I could ever repay her for,” said Cook.
From left to right: Brett L. Woods, Tyler Cook, and President Don Tomas.

At the time of McCall’s passing in November 2017, Cook and his family decided the best way to honor his great aunt would be to create a scholarship in her name dedicated to helping aspiring writers get their education.

“The day of her memorial service was the day we decided to create the scholarship,” said Cook. “It took off pretty quickly from there; a GoFundMe page was created, and we campaigned on social media. We also mailed out hundreds of letters to Eva’s family and friends, which wouldn’t have been possible without my grandmother, Susie Stanley, and her connections.”

The first recipient of the scholarship was Macon County resident Emily Pignona, chosen in June for the 2018-2019 school year.
Macon County resident Emily Pignona, the first recipient of the Eva McCall Memorial Scholarship.

“We admire Tyler for his determination in making this scholarship happen,” said Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation. “It’s important to share his story because it goes to show how just one determined person can make a difference in the lives of students. This scholarship will help students for years to come.”

For more information about this scholarship, visit, or contact Brett Woods at b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

Sep 20, 2018

Group of people dancing in a circle inside the ballroom at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
ABOVE: Dr. Don Tomas (center), Southwestern Community College President, joins with a group dancing to the bluegrass tunes of Frogtown during the SCC Foundation’s Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bling gala last month at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. BELOW: Recent graduate Yesenia Navarro tells the gala crowd how the scholarship she receive through the SCC Foundation helped her as she pursued her degree at Southwestern.
Woman speaks into a microphone on stage at gala.

Since moving its annual gala to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in 2015, the Southwestern Community College Foundation has raised more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

As has been the case annually since its inception, the current year’s gala yielded more money than the last. “Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bling,” which was held on Aug. 25, netted more than $72,000 when factoring in table sponsorships, silent auction sales, wine pull proceeds and individual tickets.

All money raised goes toward supporting SCC students through scholarships.

“None of our success with the gala would be possible without the generosity and support from our good friends at Harrah’s,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC President. “We are incredibly blessed to live in a region filled with kind and generous people who understand how Southwestern benefits our communities, and they’re always willing to step up with amazing levels of financial support. We cannot thank all our sponsors and donors enough.

“We also could not have done this without the help of all our volunteers,” Dr. Tomas added. “Our co-chairs, Wendy LeMay and Lambert Wilson, once again did an amazing job of coordinating this gala. It takes a tremendous amount of work to make these events successful, and I deeply appreciate all the hard work that’s done behind the scenes.”

At this year’s gala, attendees heard from scholarship recipients MaShon Gaddis and Yesenia Navarro. Gaddis is a current student while Navarro graduated in May. Each spoke briefly about how significant an impact their scholarships have made on their lives.

Thanks in part to the recent successful galas, the Foundation is experiencing unprecedented growth – and is able to help more students each year. However, there is still much work to do.

The Foundation’s total assets have more than doubled since Dr. Tomas became president in 2011 and currently stand at $5,555,028.11.

During the 2017 gala, SCC celebrated the completion of its first million-dollar endowment. And as the Foundation continues to gather fundraising momentum, the college is able to support more students than ever.

“Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is happy to partner with SCC, working together to be leaders in the efforts to raise funds for education,” said Brooks Robinson, Regional Senior Vice President and General Manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Properties. “Many employees and their family members have participated in the programs offered at SCC. We are proud of the work they do in making our communities stronger, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Total amount of scholarships awarded in 2013-14 was $51,355. This year’s scholarship value was $132,000 – and that’s in addition to the more than $36,000 that was awarded to New Century Scholars. The Foundation also was able to provide $4,500 to students in need through the Student Emergency Fund.

Five years ago, the SCC Foundation was only able to help one out of every five students (42 out of 225) who applied for financial assistance. For the current academic year, SCC was able to assist one out of every three (93 out of 268).

Man and woman pose for a photo in front of the stage inside the ballroom at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
Wendy LeMay and Lambert Wilson served as co-chairs for this year's Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bling gala on Saturday, Aug. 25, at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort.

But that still means two of every three qualified applicants aren’t receiving assistance.

“We’ve come a long way, and that has everything to do with the generous spirit of our donors throughout Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary,” said Brett Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation. “We aim to continue building on this momentum until we’re able to provide financial assistance to every student who can use a hand up so that they can change their lives through the academic programs at Southwestern.”

For more information about the SCC Foundation as well as the academic programs offered through Southwestern, visit, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.

Sep 19, 2018

Alexandria, VA - CFRE International has named Brett L. Woods as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Brett L. Woods, SCC Foundation Director for Southwestern Community College joins over 6,000 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation.

Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, demonstrated fundraising achievement and a commitment to service to not-for-profit organizations. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a fundraising executive, and have agreed to uphold Accountability Standards and the Donor Bill of Rights.

“The CFRE credential was created to identify for the public and employers those individuals who possess the knowledge, skills and commitment to perform fundraising duties in an effective and ethical manner,” states Jim Caldarola, CFRE, Past Chair of CFRE International. “As the certification is a voluntary achievement, the CFRE credential demonstrates a high level of commitment on the part of Brett L. Woods to himself, the fundraising profession, and, the donors who are served”

CFRE recipients are awarded certification for a three-year period. In order to maintain certification status certificants must demonstrate on-going fundraising employment and fundraising results, and continue with their professional education. Employers and donors who work with CFRE’s know they are getting a professional who is committed to the best outcomes for their organization and has the requisite knowledge and skills.

“We are so thankful to have a professional of Brett’s caliber working for us here at SCC,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “Brett has continued to show his commitment to raising funds for our students year after year, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without his efforts.”

CFRE International is an independent organization dedicated to the certification of fundraising executives by setting standards in philanthropic practice. Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and led by a small professional staff, CFRE International consistently meets the highest standards for certification excellence and is itself accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 standard for personnel certification programs.

As the premier global credential for career fundraisers, the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation is endorsed and supported by the world’s leading professional and philanthropic associations, including:
  • Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP)
  • Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
  • Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE)
  • Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC)
  • Boy Scouts of America (BSA)
  • Brazilian Fundraisers Association (ABCR)
  • China Association of Fundraising Professionals (CAFP)
  • Canadian Association of Gift Planners—Association Canadienne des Professionnels en Dons
  • Planifies (CAGP-ACPDP)
  • Educate Plus
  • European Fundraising Association (EFA)
  • Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA)
  • Fundraising Institute New Zealand (FINZ)
  • The Giving Institute
  • International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC)
  • Japan Fundraising Association (JFRA)
  • Kenya Association of Fundraising Professionals (KAFP)
  • Korea Society of Philanthropy (KSoP)
  • National Association of Cancer Center Development Officers (NACCDO)
  • National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP)
  • National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC)
  • New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (NEAHP)
  • North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO)
  • Texas Association of Community College Foundations (TACCF) United Way Worldwide (UWW)

CFRE International congratulates Brett L. Woods for achieving the CFRE designation.

For more information please visit or call +1 703.820.5555.
Brett L. Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation. 

Sep 12, 2018

Three men and a woman stand beside a kayak outside a building on SCC's Jackson Campus.
Pictured here are, from left: Phil Haire, Connie Haire, Paul Wolf (Director of SCC's Outdoor Leadership program) and Brett Woods (Director of the SCC Foundation).

Phil and Connie Haire recently presented an Old Town brand kayak to Paul Wolf, director of SCC’s Outdoor Leadership program, and Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation at the college’s Jackson Campus in Sylva.

The kayak, which is a Heron 9 model, is valued at $500 and will be used to train students through Wolf’s programs that are housed at SCC’s Swain Center in Bryson City.

Connie Haire retired from SCC in 2011 as Vice President of the Macon Campus and Institutional Development.

For more information about the Outdoor Leadership program, contact Wolf at pjwolf[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu or 828.366.2003. To learn more about SCC and the programs it offers, visit, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.

Aug 17, 2018

woman dances at last year's gala
Last year’s fundraiser was a success, and the SCC Foundation believes this year’s annual gala will be a hit.

A year ago, the Southwestern Community College Foundation celebrated its first million-dollar endowment at its Bluegrass Blue Jeans and Bling gala.

Despite significant fundraising progress, there are still plenty more SCC students who need help. Only one in three qualifying students currently receive a scholarship due to a lack of funds.

SCC’s faculty and staff hope to change that through efforts like the Bluegrass, Blue Jeans and Bling gala that will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

“With every gala to date, we continue to raise more money than the previous year for student scholarships, and we hope this year is no different,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “We are excited to see what we can accomplish this year. We are so grateful for Harrah’s and all the supporters in our community. Without their support, we would not be successful.”

The event will be catered in-house by Harrah’s chefs and bartenders. Music will be provided by local bluegrass band Frogtown, and Steve Johannessen, a local musician who has worked with artists such as Pink Floyd and Ray Charles.

While enjoying the music, guests will have the opportunity to dance, enjoy a cocktail or play corn-hole. There will also be a Best Dressed contest for those who dress on-theme.

In addition, guests will be able to participate in a silent auction and wine pull throughout the evening.

Co-chairs of the SCC Foundation Wendy LeMay and Lambert Wilson will be heading up the event again this year.

“What I like about the gala is that it gives people an occasion to get together and have fun,” said LeMay. It’s also an opportunity to raise funds for SCC students needing financial assistance, and there are many deserving students who could use a little extra help.”

Tickets for the event are $150 per person, and sponsorships start at $1,500.


For more information on Bluegrass, Blue Jeans  and Bling gala, contact Brett Woods at 828.339.4241, or visit 

Jun 19, 2018

Portrait of W. Paul Holt, Jr.
W. Paul Holt, Jr.

It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Southwestern Community College founding father, Trustee and Foundation Board member W. Paul Holt, Jr. He passed away peacefully Thursday in Asheville, surrounded by his loving family.

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, July 3, in Myers Auditorium in the Balsam Center on SCC's Jackson Campus. Visitation followed the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the SCC Foundation in memory of Mr. Holt.

Mr. Holt, along with several business and educational leaders in Jackson County, helped establish the Jackson County Industrial Education Center on December 1, 1964. JCIEC eventually grew into the institution now known as Southwestern Community College. Mr. Holt was a founding member of both the SCC Board of Trustees in 1968 and the SCC Foundation Board of Directors in 1973 and served actively on both boards until his passing.

“Paul Holt was the driving force behind the development and growth of Southwestern Community College, from its humble beginnings in 1964 to its current status as a nationally top-ranked community college," said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC President. "His invaluable contributions to SCC will be felt and magnified for generations to come. His dedication and civic service to the citizens of Western North Carolina are legendary and unparalleled.”

Mr. Holt was the longest-serving Trustee in the state of North Carolina and will be recognized for this achievement by the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees and the Association of Community College Trustees, the premier national association for trustees.

More information about Mr. Holt and his lasting contributions to SCC are available in this report from Jan. 23 when he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Click here to read Mr. Holt's obituary.

May 18, 2018

Man sings into microphone
Cashiers resident and classics singer Steve Johannessen will perform at the Cork & Fork fundraiser, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, in Cashiers to support Southwestern Community College Scholarships and the Student Emergency Fund.


Southwestern Community College will host its “Cork & Fork” fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, at The Orchard Events Barn in Cashiers.

Hosted by the SCC Foundation, the event will be a casual night of dining and musical entertainment by classics singer Steve Johannessen, who is also a member of the Board.

The purchase of a ticket includes two glasses of wine and a tasty array of hors d’oeurves catered in-house by The Orchard culinary staff. The purposes of the event are to raise money for SCC scholarships and the Student Emergency Fund, and to raise awareness about SCC and its mission of providing educational opportunities to those who live and work in Southern Jackson County.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase at the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce for $100 a person. Only 150 tickets are being sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“This fundraiser is important because graduates of Southwestern play a tremendous role in supporting the economy of the Cashiers and Glenville communities,” said Dr. Lynn Dillard, who chairs the SCC Foundation Board. “Southwestern graduates return to our communities as degreed personnel such as paramedics, nurses, firefighters, paralegals, mechanics, cosmetologists, culinary professionals and trained individuals in many other capacities who serve us well.  The Cork & Fork is our opportunity to show appreciation both to the college and its graduates.”

For more information on the Cork & Fork fundraiser, contact Brett Woods at 828.339.4241 or b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

Apr 10, 2018

Man runs on a trail
Matt Kirby, shown here competing in the Georgia Death Race on March 31, raised $2,100 for the SCC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. Kirby is the JCEC College Liaison for Southwestern.

Running (and occasionally walking) 74 miles in one day allows a man plenty of time to think.

Matt Kirby, who serves as the Jackson County Early College Liaison, spent much of his time on the Georgia Death Race considering the bigger picture of why he was pushing his body to the brink of exhaustion on March 31.

Anytime his legs started aching or his lungs began to burn or his throat got parched, Kirby would scroll through his mind and see the faces of the Southwestern Community College students who may benefit from his efforts.

Along the way, he trimmed three hours off his time from the year before. Out of more than 280 competitors who started the race, Kirby was among the 130 who finished.

“If I had to run 74 miles by myself with no support, no aid station, nobody handing me water or encouragement, it would be miserable, and I would probably fail,” Kirby said. “The fact that there are  all these people out there who don’t even really know you, but you’re connected by this trail, and they’re rooting for you, cheering you on and supporting you in all these different ways – it’s a metaphor for how life is when thing get hard.”

That’s also an accurate metaphor for what Kirby was doing on that trail – and what he does every day in supporting JCEC students at Southwestern Community College.

Kirby raised $2,100 in donations through his participation in the Georgia Death Race, and he gave every penny to the SCC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. The fund assists students with crisis-type emergencies that might otherwise prevent them from continuing toward their college degrees.

 “Sometimes when you’re going through a dark season in college, you need someone to step in and let you know there’s hope – and to encourage you to just keep going,” Kirby said. “Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll eventually make it to the finish line.”

Last year, the Student Emergency Fund provided financial assistance to 18 students. Thanks to Kirby’s efforts, the SCC Foundation stands ready to help even more this year.

Two men exchange an envelope inside a building on SCC's Jackson Campus.
Matt Kirby (left), JCEC College Liaison who recently completed the Georgia Death Race, presents the $2,100 he raised for SCC’s Student Emergency Fund to Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. In Kirby’s right hand is the railroad spike he was awarded for completing the 74-mile race.

“It takes a very rare type of individual to be willing to endure a physical challenge like this,” said Dr. Don Tomas, President of SCC. “After working with our students over the years, Matt knows how just the smallest amount of encouragement or financial assistance can make all the difference in a student’s life. We are so proud of him for not only crossing the finish line in the Georgia Death Race but also for doing it on behalf of our students. We’re also extremely grateful to everyone who supported Matt through their donations to our Student Emergency Fund.”

If you’d like to contribute to the Student Emergency Fund at SCC, click here.

Feb 27, 2018

Woman hands man a ticket

New Century Scholars Coordinator Pamela Judson (right) and Kathy Posey, SCC’s Institutional Development Associate, sell a ticket for the second-annual “Ducks on the Tuck” virtual duck draw raffle. The grand prize will be a 49-inch LED Insignia flat-screen television donated by Custom Sound and Security in Franklin.

For so many local students and their families, the annual “Ducks on the Tuck” race has provided a fun, interactive way to raise money for the New Century Scholars program.

For the second year in a row, the event is going to be held virtually this spring. All proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the New Century Scholars program to help students in Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties attain their education.

The duck draw raffle is Friday, May 11. Each ticket costs $5, or “Quack Packs” of six tickets sell for $25. Tickets are available from all New Century Scholars, program coordinators and the SCC Foundation.

More than 30 prizes will be available this year, including the grand prize of a 49-inch LED Insignia flat-screen television donated by Custom Sound and Security of Franklin.

In the weeks leading up to the event, each county’s progress will be updated at The school superintendent for the county raising the most money by May 11 will be awarded the “Ducks on the Tuck” trophy.

Jackson County narrowly edged out Macon last year.

“Ducks on the Tuck is fun, but students benefiting from all the fun is the best part of it all,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “This program has been supporting students for more than two decades, and this fundraiser is essential to the future of New Century Scholars. We’re hoping the people of Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties will continue to support these students and their families.”

Established in 1995 by Dr. Charles McConnell, former Jackson County superintendent, and then-SCC president Dr. Barry Russell, New Century Scholars provides last-dollar tuition assistance and extra support such as dedicated advising to deserving area students.

New Century Scholars has served more than 2,200 students over the years. At present, 286 students participate in grades 7-12, and 167 attend SCC.

Funding is provided through private donations, fundraisers and NCS endowments.

For more info or to purchase tickets, contact Kathy Posey at 828.339.4227 or k_posey[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

Feb 22, 2018

Black & white photo of Sybil Reed taken from SCC's 1975 yearbook.
A scholarship has been set up at Southwestern Community College in memory of Sibyl Reed, a former Sylva-Webster High School English instructor who later worked at Southwestern.

The first graduating class of Sylva-Webster High School (1961) is establishing a scholarship through the Southwestern Community College Foundation in honor of former educator and administrator Sibyl Reed.

Reed, who passed away on Feb. 7, taught English at Sylva-Webster from 1960-69. She then worked at Southwestern for 18 years, serving as an instructor and occupational education director before retiring as an associate dean in 1989.

Prior to her time at Sylva-Webster High, Reed taught seventh grade at Sylva Elementary.

Two of her former students, Alan Allman and Ann Melton, are spearheading the effort to set up the scholarship in Reed’s memory. They are seeking contributions from others Reed taught over the years.

“I am one of the countless lives Mrs. Reed touched through her years in education,” Melton said. “I had her for five years – seventh grade and all four years of high school. Most of us (in the class of ’61) did. She was fabulous; she taught us the mechanics of writing and gave us a deep appreciation for poetry and great literature. We’re setting up this scholarship because she meant so much to us, and we hope everyone who remembers her fondly will help us.”

The scholarship will be awarded to a full-time college transfer student from Jackson County with financial need.

 “We’re pleased that the Sylva-Webster Class of 1961 is working to set up this scholarship in Mrs. Reed’s memory,” Woods said. “She served the people in our community well for many, many years, and this scholarship is a wonderful way to continue helping students in her name.”

Contributions to the Sibyl M. Reed Scholarship Fund can be made by contacting Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation, at 828.339.4241 or b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

For more information about the SCC Foundation, visit

Jan 30, 2018

Matt Kirby, JCEC College Liaison.
Matt Kirby, college liaison for the Jackson County Early College, will be competing in the Georgia Death Race on March 31, and will be raising money for SCC’s Student Emergency Fund through sponsorships he receives.
Give to SCC button.
Click on the link above, select "Student Emergency Fund" and please type in "Matt Kirby Race" in the "Specify Other Designation" field to sponsor Kirby. 
Matt Kirby, college liaison for the Jackson County Early College, has competed in many races over the years, but the upcoming “Georgia Death Race” will have particular meaning to him.

Kirby will be raising money for Southwestern Community College’s Student Emergency Fund through sponsorships he receives for the race, which will be held on March 31.

His goal is to raise more than $5,000.

“The Georgia Death Race is absolutely crazy. It is probably one of the toughest trail races on the East Coast,” said Kirby. “Hopefully the insanity of it will attract some attention and help raise some money for SCC's Student Emergency Fund.”

Located in Vogel State Park in Blairsville, the Georgia Death Race is approximately 70 miles long with nearly 28,000 feet of elevation change.

In addition to the running group “Plott Balsam Runners” he founded, Kirby has also started an after-school running group at SCC. They call themselves “The Sole Destroyers.”

Kirby added: “For me, running is about community building. The goal behind Sole Destroyers is to introduce young people to running and the beautiful sites of Jackson County. Through Plott Balsam Runners, we support local races and help with trail maintenance so that everyone can access the wonderful trails in Jackson County.”

Kirby has been training for months for the Georgia Death Race. You can follow his progress on Twitter: @KirbyRunsLong.

“Matt is clearly going the extra mile for SCC and our students,” said Brett Woods, SCC Foundation director. “Matt’s willingness to dig down to the core of his perseverance to show our region just how much helping students means to him, sends a loud message - a message I hope we all hear."

Last year, the Student Emergency Fund assisted 18 students with crisis type emergencies by awarding them over $4,000.

“This assistance enabled them to meet critical needs and in many cases, remain enrolled and able to continue their education,” Woods added. “We are grateful to Matt and hope our community will consider supporting this unique opportunity.”

If you would like to donate to the SCC Student Emergency Fund through sponsoring Kirby, visit and follow the directions listed. For assistance, contact Kathy Posey, SCC Foundation associate, at k_posey[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu or 828.339.4227.

“Working at SCC and specifically working with early college students, I see the importance of education,” said Kirby. “I see the role that SCC plays in improving the lives of residents of Jackson County.”

For more information about the SCC Foundation, visit or contact Woods at b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu or 828.339.4241.


Dec 19, 2017

SCC president Dr. Don Tomas and Travis Ashe of Pepsi pictured at SCC.
Dr. Don Tomas (left), president of SCC, accepts a donation from Travis Ashe, area manager for Pepsi-Cola of Whittier.
A few years ago, Ronnie Bowers and Travis Ashe from Pepsi-Cola of Whittier visited Southwestern Community College’s Jackson Campus and heard about how funding from the SCC Foundation helped students overcome hardships and complete their degrees.

Since then, Bowers and Ashe have made frequent trips to deliver gifts on behalf of the local soft-drink distributor and its employees to SCC’s students.

On Dec. 18, Ashe handed Dr. Don Tomas – SCC’s president – a $1,000 check that will go directly into the SCC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. The funds came directly from Pepsi employees, who choose annually to forego a holiday party in order to support local charities.

“We know that these donations are making a difference in students’ lives,” said Bowers, sales manager for Pepsi-Cola of Whittier. “We believe in the power of education, and I am extremely proud that our employees choose to pay it forward by supporting SCC’s students.”

Established in 2014, the Student Emergency Fund helps deserving students who encounter unexpected financial emergencies so that they can remain at SCC and continue working toward their degrees, diplomas and/or certificates.

In 2017, the fund provided more than $4,000 of financial assistance to 18 students.

“Pepsi-Cola of Whittier has consistently stepped up to give our students a hand up when they need it,” Dr. Tomas said. “On behalf of our students and everyone at SCC, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude.

“Completing an education at Southwestern is a major accomplishment, but it’s not an easy one,” Dr. Tomas added. “Whenever possible, we want to be able to help our students along the journey. The Student Emergency Fund makes a tremendous difference at a critical juncture for several students every year, and we’re thankful for the support of businesses like Pepsi.”

For more information about the Student Emergency Fund and the SCC Foundation, contact Brett Woods at 828.339.4241 or b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu.

To learn more about Southwestern Community College and the programs it offers, visit, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.

Dec 18, 2017

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia founders Amy Garza and Doreyl Cain pictured with Dr. Don Tomas.
In 2016, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA) established an endowed scholarship through the Southwestern Community College Foundation. The local non-profit heritage group recently added to the fund with a gift of $2,000. This brings the total amount of the endowed scholarship fund to $20,000. Pictured from left to right are: Doreyl Ammons Cain of Catch the Spirit; Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC; and Amy Ammons Garza of Catch the Spirit.
In 2016, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA) established an endowed scholarship through the Southwestern Community College Foundation.

The local non-profit heritage group recently added a gift of $2,000.

This brings the total amount of the endowed scholarship fund to $20,000.

“We are grateful to the Ammons sisters, CSA and the CSA Board for their loyal and continued generosity to support SCC and our students,” said Brett Woods, SCC Foundation director.

The scholarship fund was created by the CSA board of directors and founders to help SCC students preserve the Appalachian traditions of the area.

“We are so happy to add to our endowment,” said co-founder Amy Ammons Garza. “We wanted to round off the amount to $20,000, so we’re excited to be able to accomplish that feat.”

CSA was founded by Garza and her sister Doreyl Ammons Cain in 1989 to teach local children about mountain music, art and storytelling. CSA became a 501(c)3 nonprofit heritage organization in 1991.

"The SCC scholarship fund is part of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia's vision of honoring our mountain heritage through the arts,” said Cain. “What better way than helping our youth accomplish their dreams.”

For information on how to donate to the fund or create a fund, contact Woods at b_woods[at]southwesterncc[dot]edu or 828.339.4241.