To the editor:

Cicero once said, “Gratitude may be the mother of all virtues.” We at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation couldn’t agree more. 

We would like to start off this New Year by extending our gratitude to this community. The community members of our region have gone above and beyond in their support of the Foundation. Thanks to each of you for supporting us over the past 30 years. 

For those of you who are not aware of the foundation and its mission, we are a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that supports the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) and its mission. The SVHEC is a higher education hub that provides access to college degrees and job training for in-demand careers. At the SVHEC you can earn everything from a GED to a Ph.D! 

SVHEC has always been driven by the community. In fact, it wasn’t a state or federal agency that sought the need for a higher education center here in South Boston it was all of you. It was business and community leaders, elected officials and every day citizens who saw a shift in economic development of the local workforce. You recognized the need for a local workforce solution to train workers to meet industry demand, and to ensure students were not inconvenienced by having to travel so far to receive that training. You supported the SVHEC’s non-traditional structure that allowed students to be able to work while they advanced or changed their careers, to decrease the commute for working parents and to make higher education more affordable for non-traditional students. And it was this community who came together and overwhelmingly passed the initial bond referendum to establish the SVHEC. 

Over the past 18 years, the foundation has helped give access to higher education to tens of hundreds of students through various ways. One way we have been able to support the SVHEC is by providing scholarships to students. As of the Fall 2019 semester, we have awarded over $225,000 in scholarships! The entirety of this amount has been made possible by generous individual and corporate donors. 

The bottom line is that our mission has always remained the same; we want to provide an opportunity for residents to receive degrees or workforce training locally, and to actually stay here for employment afterwards. It’s no secret that many small towns across the country face brain drain, especially of young professionals who are vital for economic and social growth. We need your help to stop the outflow. 

We are now making the appeal to the community to please continue supporting us. Without your support, the foundation would not have come as far as it has. We would not be able to help support the thousands of students who have walked through the doors of the SVHEC or changed the lives of the hundreds of students who have graduated from the programs at SVHEC. 

As you consider making charitable gifts this year, please do not forget to include the foundation. We need you to help us move our community forward. We are more than happy to meet for coffee or lunch to discuss how you can impact those around you. Email us at svhefinfo@svhef.org, call us at 434-572-5448, or visit us at 180 Factory Street South Boston, VA 24592. 

If you would like more information about classes offered at the SVHEC, please visit their website at SVHEC.org 

As always, thank you for your support, and happy new year! 

Katrina Powell, executive director 

Sahrash Akram, associate director of philanthropy