By Denise DuBois
The annual Chattahoochee Valley Hall of Fame dinner is March 8 at the national Infantry Museum in Columbus.
“Hall of Fame is such an important event for a few reasons. First, it honors those who have brought honor to CVCC. Second, it serves as our Foundation’s largest fund-raiser event for scholarships. Foundation scholarships help students overcome financial barriers,” said Kelly Williams, Public Information Officer and Marketing Coordinator for CVCC.
Last year, The CVCC Foundation awarded 39 general scholarships to toal $33,350. In four years, more than $200,000 in scholarships have been awarded.
Over the years, the event has evolved from recognizing distinguished citizens to raising funds for scholarships.
“This is our eighth Hall of Fame event. It was started in 2008 as a recognition event. In 2012, the College joined with the CVCC Foundation to make it a fund-raiser for scholarships. The Hall of Fame has brought in over $200,000 to benefit student scholarships since 2014. This year, we’re hoping to add to that growing total of scholarship money. We’re so thankful each year for the support we receive from our community,” Williams said.
As for how scholarships are awarded, Williams said, “Criteria for HOF is posted year-round on our Web site. At the end of summer is usually when there is a call for nominations. Committee members, as well as the public, make nominations and suggestions. The committees, made up of College employees, Foundation members and community members, use scoring sheets to evaluate the nomination against the criteria.”
Honorees this year include: B. Nishiyama Willis, Distinguished Alumni; the late Flint Sharpe, Distinguised Service (posthumously awarded); and Brenda Smith, Distinguished Service.
Tickets are $75. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (334) 291-4938. Gold sponsors for the event are: iHeart Media, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital & Hughston Clinic, TSYS, W.C. Bradley and WestRock. Blue sponsors are CTV-Beam and The Citizen of East Alabama.
Distinguished Alumni – B. Nishiyama Willis
Chief B. Nishiyama Willis has dedicated more than 40 years of her life to fire services. She is currently the Fire Chief of Henry County Fire Department. Prior to this role, she served as the Fire Chief of Riverdale Fire Services. She retired from the Atlanta Fire Department after a 30-year career that included many accomplishments. Chief Willis distinguished herself as a highly motivated, career-oriented firefighter. She was one of the first 20 female firefighters hired by the Atlanta Fire Department, and she was the first female to serve on the Department’s hazardous materials and technical rescue unit. From there she became the first female fire officer and first female chief officer in the Department’s history. As a chief, she served as the Chief of Training, Fire Battalion Chief and then Deputy Fire Chief of Operations. She was also the Deputy Chief of the Airport Division. Chief Willis has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Brenau University and an associate’s degree from Chattahoochee Valley Community College. She is currently involved in numerous charitable organizations that lend aid to Atlanta’s communities and looks forward to continuing her career and setting the pace for men, women and future leaders of the fire profession.
Distinguished Service – Flint Sharpe
Flint Sharpe was a CVCC student from 1979-1982, where he was a pitcher for the Pirates baseball team. He used that talent to transfer to Columbus State University, and even had a short career with Major League Baseball. But, Flint Sharpe was a man known for his heart. Sharpe had a heart for service in the community. One of his greatest accomplishments was starting and running Upward Basketball at Golden Acres Baptist Church and First Baptist of Phenix City. Sharpe coached young children not only in the sport, but in life. Because of his passion for the program and his dedicated service, Flint was recognized with a statue by the Upward Sports Organization. Not only was Sharpe dedicated to his volunteer coaching, he was also a deacon at First Baptist Church of Phenix City and at Golden Acres Baptist Church. As a man of great faith, he truly lived a life of service. Sharpe was a Territory Manager with U.S. Foods. In December 2016, the organization honored his memory by naming the annual outstanding salesperson the Flint Sharpe Award. Distinguished service is the legacy that Flint Sharpe has left behind for his family, friends and peers to follow.
Distinguished Service – Brenda Smith
Brenda Smith has more than a 25-year history of service with Chattahoochee Valley Community College. Her service began in 1975 as a physical education instructor; however, she had many additional roles and titles. Smith served as an athletic director, cheerleader sponsor, tennis coach and softball coach. She was also the first women’s basketball coach. While most of the roles involve the physical activities of the college, Smith was also the Director of Recruitment and Student Activities for 15 years. In that role she helped establish relationships with 25 area high schools, as well as the Army Education Service at Fort Benning, Ga. Smith was very involved in the graduation exercises and helped with selecting scholarship students. In 1979, she was awarded the AJCAA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year award. Smith is also the recipient of the Chattahoochee Valley Community College Spirit Award. She holds a Master’s of Education degree in physical education from Georgia Southwestern.