Cellarbration for Education draws big crowd

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Sparkling wine was among the choices at the annual Cellarbration for Education, the annual fundraiser for the Big Bend Community College Foundation.

MOSES LAKE — Laurie Odegaard kept checking on that petrified wood.

“I bid on a rock,” she said. “Petrified rock.” It was a silent auction item at Cellarbration for Education, the annual fundraising dinner for the Big Bend Community College Foundation. “My grandson is a rock hound,” she said, and the rocks would be perfect for him. (Like her grandson, she’s a rock hound, as well as a BBCC instructor, she said.)

“I think I might have to get the petrified wood,” she said, and she did. “All in the name of education.” Cellarbration is one of the biggest fundraisers for the BBCC Foundation. “This is our annual anchor (fundraising) event,” said BBCC trustee Stephen McFadden.

The foundation’s main focus is providing scholarships for prospective students – recent high school graduates, of course, but also students who are returning to college, or who are starting college after being in the workforce. “There is so much need out there,” said student speaker Stephanie Cardenas.

Cardenas is one of those non-traditional students, who came back to college after being in the workforce. In fact, she’s in college at the same time as her son.

Foundation president LeAnn Parton talked about another student, who got his GED and tried the college’s electrician training only to discover that wasn’t his field. He took advantage of BBCC’s agriculture programs instead. He told Parton that the college changed not only his life, but his family’s future, she said.

The college also has an emergency fund, to help students facing circumstances that otherwise might force them to drop out. “It’s amazing how a little money at the right time can keep a student in school,” Parton said.

The dinner drew a crowd that filled the meeting room at the ATEC building. “We have to support our local community college,” said Eric Skaug.

Cellarbration “brings the community to the college,” said former BBCC president Bill Bonaudi. “That’s important, because the college belongs to the community.”

Lew Mason grew up with BBCC. His dad Robert was the first dean of students, the baseball and wrestling coach, “and several other (sports) I can’t remember.” The Mason family moved from Sheridan, Wyoming, to help build BBCC – which started, Mason said, with classes meeting at Moses Lake High School.

When Larson Air Force Base, the college took over part of the property, although the Air Force charged a fee. “My dad was the guy who handed over the $10 to complete the transaction,” Mason remembered. He’s a former BBCC instructor himself.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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