By Pete Zamplas- A Bat Signal-like searchlight beamed to the skies above Hendersonville Country Club Monday night, and more than 200 scholarship donors and supporters of non-profits answered the call to celebrate.
Heroes of Hope is the theme of the Community Foundation of Henderson County’s annual Vintage Carolina. The event honored local heroes and “she-roes.”
“We are fortunate that our community is jam-packed with heroes,” Community Foundation President-CEO McCray V. Benson said. “They are looking for the right time to help out,” such as when they can best afford a donation or a series of donations into a scholarship or other fund, he added.
“Our nonprofits’ missions are vital to our community. We ask you to put in the hard work. We celebrate you, our heroes of hope.”
Benson said the foundation staff and board works toward the”charitable dreams of donors,” and the “visionary leadership of our philanthropic community.” Funds to local youths and others are “helping to overcome barriers, to believe in the possibilities, to hear the call of opportunity.”
CFHC collected over $7.7 million in new contributions — including a record $3.3 million gift — in the past fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, according to Donor Services Mgr. Wendy Hamil. She noted the foundation closed 2017-18 with over $108 million in assets with about half dedicated to academic awards, and that it professionally manages more than 553 charitable funds. Rachel Buchanan is CHFC chief financial officer.
The initial donor specifies the fund’s purpose, helping staff develop specific guidelines. About 95 percent of these funds are ongoing endowments.
Senior Program Officer Lee Henderson-Hill told The Tribune that scholarship applications are in, interviews will occur before a screening committee in coming weeks, and winners should be announced in May ahead of summer and fall college terms.
Renee Kumor was honored with the first annual Dot Marlow Philanthropic Catalyst Award. Kumor was a Henderson County commissioner for eight years, mostly in the Nineties. She has been active with various non-profits for over 40 years. She is hailed for her positive approach, and inspiration to others.
Kumor helped the Mainstay shelter for battered women— now Safelight — emerge in 1984. She helped start the Children and Family Resource Center. And she spoke out in its related United Agenda for Children meetings on early childhood development needs. She was part of a who’s who of civic leaders including McCray Benson, who first met in 2006 on such children’s issues.
“Thousands of children in our community now experience a better start in life, due to her involvement and leadership,” CFHC Board Chr. Cindy Causby said before presenting Kumor the award.
Also, Kumor was among school parents who helped develop local public schools’ first drug education program in the Eighties. In recent years, Kumor even helped the West Henderson scoreboard crew. Her husband Stan ran the play clock. Renee has written mystery-romance novels, in her series River Bend Chronicles.
“Selfless, passionate, persevering and empowering” is how Causby described Mrs. Kumor. Causby said that since 1977, Kumor has devoted to public service and “proven through hard work, hope and humility that one person can be the change we hope to see in the world…She morphed from concerned citizen into a self-educated, experienced advocate for non-profits. Often inspiring others, she champions human services, children’s and women’s causes.”
Youngstown, Ohio native Kumor stated on her website that nonprofits are “the force that keeps life civilized in a small town. The domestic violence shelter, the arts council” et al.
Dot Marlow, who died at age 85 two years ago, was the local “matriarch of philanthropy,” according to Benson. She was on the CFHC board in 1983-91, and an early major leader of the foundation.
Vintage Carolina coordinators were Roxanna and Ronnie Pepper. Most of the more than 200 there stuck to the usual black tie or other formal attire. A few who attended went for this year’s theme, such as having super hero T-shirts beneath formal wear. Benson had a Green Lantern shirt beneath his dress shirt, and put on a Green Lantern ring.
The most costumed person wore a Batman cap, Star Wars T-shirt with Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and Princess Leia on it, had ties of Superman and Batman draped over the shirt, a leather coat and socks with Capt. America’s image and emblem on them. (He took photos for The Tribune, and wrote this story.)
There was as usual an array of delicacies, desserts, wine and craft beer. Food treats were from Budy Finch Catering & Revelry, Champion Hills, Chef Michael’s Catering, Hendersonville Community Co-op, Hendersonville Country Club, and The Henderson. Desserts were from Gateaux Cakes and Pastries, and Van’s Chocolates.
Wine/beer was served by Advintage Distributing, Empire Distributors, Freedom Beverage Co., Point Lookout Vineyards, Sanctuary Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Southern Appalachian Brewery, and Tryon Distributing.
New to the event is The Henderson, formerly Inn at Church, and its Harvey’s Restaurant that is open to the general public. The 17-room bed and breakfast is at 201 Third Ave. W. on the edge of Downtown Hendersonville. It opened 100 years ago.
Michael and Jeanne Gilligan bought the historic inn a year and half ago, and renovated it with brighter colors. Michael was executive sous chef in actor Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Grill in Manhattan in the Nineties, executive chef for many leading hotel chains, and most recently Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ food and beverage director.
Their “hot item” at Vintage Carolina turned out to be the 300 crab cakes they served in the first hour, Michael Gilligan noted.
He likes how at Vintage Carolina “we get to meet many other local chefs, in a relaxed setting, and eat each other’s food.” He liked how most food was upstairs, with desserts and most alcohol downstairs where there was dancing to a DJ’s music. Jeanne Gilligan called the hazy mountainous view near the club “mesmerizing.”