GCC kicks off annual campaign

  • The  2019 Annual Campaign Leadership Team, from left, GCC Executive Director of Resource Development Regina Curtis ‘86; GCC President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández; Amy McMahan, owner of Mesa Verde Restaurant and campaign co-chair; President of GCC Foundation Board of Directors Leigh Rae. Not pictured, campaign co-chair Lindsay Stromgrem CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 4/17/2019 5:40:11 PM

The Greenfield Community College Foundation’s 2019 annual campaign – One Mission, Many Lives Changed – kicked off recently with restaurant owner Amy McMahan joining GCC alumnus Lindsay Stromgren ‘95 to lead the effort.

Stromgren, a GCC alum and Amherst assistant fire chief, is returning as co-chair, while McMahan is coming aboard the campaign for the first time.

GCC’s Executive Director of Resource Development Regina Curtis, a GCC alumna, noted this year’s campaign goal is set at $1 million. She said with student needs growing and higher education landscape changing, this is the year to stretch and reach for something big.

The foundation has already raised about 75 percent of the goal since the fiscal year began July 1, and the team says that with the help of alumni, area businesses and the community, the goal will be met by the end of the One Mission. Many Lives Changed fund drive.

The campaign will raise funds between now and May 31 to support student success, advance educator excellence and propel innovation at GCC. 

Well-known in the Greenfield area for her entrepreneurial spirit, McMahan, owner of Mesa Verde restaurant, described her enthusiasm for supporting the college. “As a downtown Greenfield business owner, I’ve come to know the impact that GCC has on this county and beyond,” she said. “So many people I know and love have gone to GCC, improved their earning potential and expanded their worldview by attending classes or graduating.”

McMahan noted how many lives are touched by the college. “GCC welcomes everyone, and it welcomes back students who have had to take a break because of life circumstances,” she said. “The school is the foundation of so many careers and career changes. I’m honored by the opportunity to support this institution that is so pivotal to evolving our local workforce and community.”

GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández expressed her appreciation for the campaign leaders, Stromgren and McMahan, plus the volunteers who are helping to elevate the mission and work of the college.

“It’s wonderful to see so many of our neighbors stepping forward to support the college,”  Salomon-Fernández said. “The higher education sector is undergoing tremendous change at this time. GCC has a strong foundation thanks to the hard work of many who came before us, but to meet today’s challenges, the college must become more agile, more relevant to the needs of our students, and better aligned with the needs of the local area. The more our wider community partners with GCC in our success, the better we can harness the creativity and innovative energy we need to empower our students.”

At an April 11 breakfast to launch the campaign, the group heard from guest speakers, who have a strong connection to GCC.

Hailee Galandak-Cochran, a student, noted that the support of GCC Foundation donors clears away many barriers to student success. Galandak-Cochran is an environmental science major, carrying a 4.0 GPA while being deeply involved in issues of sustainability for the planet and social justice.

Because of the financial support she receives, Galandak-Cochran said she is able to spend less time worrying about meals, gas and housing, and more time thinking about her studies, making connections between arts and biology and preparing for her future.

Merrilyn Lewis, an alumna, shared her belief that GCC is a place that gives everyone a chance. When she was teaching high school, she made a point of connecting with students who might not have believed that college was for them, or felt they had no place to go, and encouraging them toward GCC. As one of GCC’s most successful campaigners, she shared with her approach to building connection with the people she asks for support.

About 40 alum, faculty, staff and community members attended last week’s campaign kick-off breaksfast, where they received coaching and materials to assist them in requesting donations that will support GCC students and programs. There are 60 volunteer campaigners in all and anyone interested in helping out are welcome to join the team.

For more information about the GCC Foundation and supporting the 2019 annual campaign, go to www.gcc.mass.edu/foundation or contact Regina Curtis, executive director of Resource Development and GCC Foundation, at 413-775-1600.

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