(WILMINGTON, NC) — The largest fundraiser of the year for student scholarships at Brunswick Community College is going virtual this year. The ‘Bella Italia” event normally draws hundreds of well-heeled donors to a lavish dinner and wine pairing. But the pandemic has prompted some changes this year. Recently, the foundation’s director Elizabeth Wassum spoke with Good Morning Carolina’s Donna Gregory about the changes in store for this year, and how people can still take part in some fun activities.
Donna: This is the largest fundraiser for the foundation, and people love the in-person event. How are you re-creating the magic virtually this year?
Elizabeth: While we will miss the fabulous food, wine and dancing from past events, we are re-creating the magic by celebrating our awesome donors, students, and community partners over the next few weeks through sharing videos and engaging social media posts. We will be sharing messages from our Student Ambassadors and video interviews with restaurant partners. We are also asking donors to take part by sending us photos of them dressed in their “Bella Best.” For most of us, it’s been a while since we’ve dusted off our ball gowns and tuxedos. So, we’re challenging our Foundation Board of Directors and campus community to send in photos of themselves all dressed up with nowhere to go so we can share the fun pics in the weeks leading up to the virtual celebration.
Donna: Proceeds go to student scholarships– and part of the fundraiser includes student testimonials. How will you do that this year?
Elizabeth: The student stories are always the best part of the evening during our Bella Italia event. Student Ambassadors are selected each year to represent the College and the Foundation in the community as they share their stories of successfully overcoming obstacles and pursuing their educational goals at Brunswick Community College. This year, the students were virtually paired with mentors from the community to write and rehearse their speeches. For the Bella Italia celebration, we will be sharing videos from four students – Austin, Braden, Hadiya, and Joanne – all of which have incredible stories and are scholarship recipients. They will share their successes in bringing up GPAs while enrolled at BCC, proud moments playing sports at the collegiate level, and the decision to pursue a career change and enroll in BCC’s nursing program during a pandemic. These videos will be available February 6th via Youtube and Facebook.
Donna: What is your fundraising goal, and how confident are you that you’ll reach it?
Elizabeth: Our original fundraising goal has been stretched to raise $50,000 by January 31st! We are so close! Through the incredibly generous support of individuals and businesses, including our Platino level sponsors – Mrs. Dinah E. Gore, Novant Health, Mrs. Myong and Mr. Paul Jensen, and Ms. Teresa McLamb – we have already raised over $37,000! Our community of supporters is incredible, and I am hopeful, if not confident, that additional donors will step forward to raise the additional $13,000 needed to reach our goal.
Donna: What are the specifics (day and time) and how can people join in the event on line this year?
Elizabeth: Join us in our virtual celebration NOW by following our Facebook page and Youtube channel to catch all the great student videos and donor recognition!
Donna: For people who don’t see the student videos or Youtube channel offerings, how can they still support the Bella Italia fundraiser?
Elizabeth: To learn more about supporting Bella Italia and other Foundation initiatives please visit https://www.brunswickcc.edu/about/foundation/giving/. We welcome your support through giving, engaging with our campus, and sharing our mission in the community!