The amount that resolved on the screen during Thursday afternoon’s iGot celebration, $406,790, represents a new cash record for the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign.
“It’s important to me for what the foundation does, which is scholarships, and to hear the passion that the teachers have, and when you talk to the students and hear the need,” said Russell Rosengart, the foundation’s president. “We offer over 50 scholarships a year through this funding. Also we buy technology, say for example in the medical department: C-arms, X-ray machines, sonography. It changes so rapidly, we provide leased equipment for them to train on.”
With funds raised through past campaigns, the foundation also purchased tractor-trailer trucks for the college’s Commercial Truck Driving program. For Ogeechee Tech’s new $10 million, almost 35,000-square-foot Workforce Training and Plant Operations Building, the state is funding the construction, now underway, but the OTC Foundation provided the site by buying land on the edge of the main campus and giving it to the state.
“But the main thing we do is scholarships, which enable students who might not have an opportunity to be able to pursue their dreams, better themselves and help themselves and their families, and for a lot of them there are some difficult stories,” Rosengart said. “You’ve got a lot of single moms, you’ve got single dads, you’ve got grandparents raising grandkids that are trying to better themselves. It’s heartwarming to see them succeed.”
Like other members of the foundation board, Rosengart is a volunteer in that role. In business, he owns the Sonic Drive-In franchise for restaurants in Statesboro and several other cities in southeast Georgia.
Over 100 volunteers
Not only the board members, but 134 volunteers in all helped with fundraising during the campaign that began Tuesday in Bulloch and Evans counties and a previous, Feb. 27, drive in Screven County, said OTC Resource Development Coordinator Jennifer Cornwell.
Volunteers visited many donors in person and phoned others, she said.
“We had a lot of good volunteers going out seeing a lot of local businesses and individuals, and everybody responded well, so we’re very happy with the result,” said OTC Vice President for College Advancement Barry Turner. “It allows us to do more scholarships, it helps with needs for additional equipment and just really any need that comes up at the college that we may not have funded through the state budget.”
Campaign volunteers, foundation members and OTC officials celebrated the announcement of the total at the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau welcome center.
“I’m so appreciative to this community and our surrounding communities for coming through with their support again this year,” said Ogeechee Technical College President Lori Durden. “This money goes to help our students, with retention rates and completion rates. Sometimes it’s a matter of $200 that will keep a student enrolled and continuing on with their program toward graduation, and in the end it’s all about workforce development.”
Ogeechee Tech enrolled 2,708 students in credit courses during the 2017 academic year, according to its annual report. Enrollment is growing again so that this year’s total is now around 3,000 students, Turner said. Last year, the college awarded 1,333 technical certificates, 333 diplomas and 161 associate degrees in about 120 different programs of study.
The acronym iGot stands for “I Give to Ogeechee Tech.” Last year’s total was $397,752, so this year’s total was a 2 percent increase. The announced iGot campaign totals were $364,950 in 2016 and $352,748 in 2015.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.