The Star-Herald

NMCC shares ‘A Story Worth Telling’ at this year’s annual Foundation Dinner

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On the evening of Thursday, Nov. 17 NMCC hosted the annual Foundation Dinner, where “A Story Worth Telling” was shared. The evening began with a Foundation board meeting followed by social time where guests visited student displays highlighting the following programs:

emergency management services, computer numerical control, business technology, and electrical construction and maintenance.  The evening was then followed with a formal five-course dinner prepared and served by the Aramark staff.

 During the fiscal year celebrated by the event, the NMCC Foundation distributed more than $144,000 in student scholarships, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. During the same time period, the Foundation endowed three additional scholarships, secured a $2.8 million private grant, and facilitated congressional funds into commercial driving, mechanized logging, and the expansion of the electrical program. All of these efforts involved the support of the NMCC’s Foundation’s 31-person board of directors, which met on campus just before the event to approve proposed changes for the coming year.

Griffin Goins, dean of development and public affairs, as well as the executive director of the NMCC foundation, opened the evening with a story describing his relocation to northern Maine from sunny California and the positive impact the decision made both on his life professionally and personally. Goins shared, “NMCC has a story to tell. Aroostook County has a story to tell. They’re not small stories either — they’re important beyond the walls of this gymnasium and past both Island Falls and Fort Kent. The stories are about small communities working together to learn how to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, learning to embrace both necessary change and valuable heritage.”

 NMCC Foundation Chair Ryan Bushey spoke of the extraordinary accomplishments that the foundation had made over the last twelve months. Bushey recognized the work of previous Executive Director Dr. Dottie Martin and highlighted the impact of the three newly endowed scholarships that support both students and program development. In addition to his role on the board, Bushey leads human resources at LP in Houlton, working closely with the Southern Aroostook community.

 The Foundation recognized Dick Engels for his and his wife, Dr. Carole St. Pierre-Engels, for entrusting the Foundation with the Engels Family Fund. The couple endowed the fund last December and designated the fund to enhance programs and expand opportunities on campus.  

 Sen. Trey Stewart and family members Beth and Taylor Williams were invited to the stage to accept recognition for the newly endowed Melanie Jane Stewart Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship was established to honor its namesake’s legacy as a creator, a leader, and a motivator.  

This year’s outstanding benefactor award went to Paul and Karen Cyr, who could not attend the event. In 2003, after a tragic automobile accident leading to the loss of their son, Paul and Karen created the Mitch Cyr Memorial Scholarship. Even though 19 years have passed, each October, around the time of Mitch’s birthday, the Foundation receives checks from family and friends in Mitch’s honor. During the ceremony, Goins added, “You don’t need to walk too far in any direction on campus before encountering Paul’s photography. We rely heavily on Paul’s art to showcase the College and are enormously thankful for all the ways his family has shown support.”

 The Foundation’s most prestigious honor, the Eagle Award, went to NMCC Foundation Specialist Aimee Wilkins. This annual award is presented to an individual who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. “It’s difficult to overstate how critical Aimee is to the ongoing success of the Foundation,” Goins stated. “This gesture cannot come close to capturing our gratitude for her commitment to our cause. Aimee embodies the legendary Aroostook County work ethic and is a cornerstone of this organization’s success.” The crowd recognized Wilkins with a standing ovation. 

 The evening included two student speakers: Raegyn Chavez and Melissa Dupuis, who took the opportunity to thank the Foundation and NMCC for their contributions to their education and futures. Dupuis spoke of the advanced technology available in the EMS Education & Training Center and the impact faculty and the new facilities have made on her learning experience. Chavez, a 2019 graduate of Washburn High School, spoke about transitioning to College and learning to succeed outside of her comfort zone.

 The event concluded with a presentation by President Timothy Crowley showcasing the College’s efforts to adapt to community needs, diversify the student body, and innovate through new technologies, lab spaces, and learning formats. Crowley highlighted the current development of the on-campus childcare center, family housing, and the recently opened EMS Education & Training Center. “Mothers have been disproportionately impacted by the events of the past several years, including COVID-19,” Crowley explained. “They have not been able to return to the workforce. We want them to enroll in a program, live in a safe environment on campus, enroll their children in childcare, and ultimately begin their careers.”

 Additionally, Crowley called attention to workforce development expansions in commercial driving, mechanized logging, and practical nursing. Crowley’s presentation also recognized the international students at the event, who took a chance and enrolled at NMCC from their home countries in the Caribbean.

 The foundation dinner takes place each November, traditionally on the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving. This year’s event reflected the transition to the holiday season, with pine boughs, candlelight, and a hearty meal including roast pork and braised salmon. For more information on the NMCC Foundation, please visit nmcc.edu.

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