United Way promotes literacy at annual banquet with Miss NC

First Sam Watkins Visionary Award to be awarded
May. 26, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

Miss North Carolina 2013 will highlight the United Way reading initiative at the organization’s annual banquet Wednesday.

The United Way raised 2,000 books this year to encourage literacy in elementary schools, particularly third-grade classrooms.

Johna Alexandria Edmonds will speak at the event, which will be held at noon at the Henderson Country Club.

United Way of Vance County Executive Director Nancy Gray said tickets are $16, $50 for a seat with Edmonds and $100 to reserve a six person table with her.

Edmonds’ personal platform is called Readers to Leaders: Promoting Literacy in America’s Youth, which emphasizes service projects for students, teachers and parents on the importance of literacy among young people.

Following the banquet, Edmonds will read to third-graders at E.M. Rollins Elementary School.

She graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in accounting and a minor in Spanish language and literatures, according to her website.

She is working on her master’s degree in accounting at NCSU.

Gray said the United Way will also announce its first Sam Watkins Visionary Award at the annual banquet this year.

“He has been a big supporter of the United Way since the beginning,” she said. “He didn’t see what was; he saw what could be.”

The award is in honor of the late Watkins, who died in February, and will be given annually to someone in the community who exemplifies his legacy, she said.

Waktins, former president of Rose Oil Company, was a member of the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission for 33 years.

In 2008, he and his brother George were the recipients of the Community Hero Award given by Vance County commissioners for making the community a better place to live.

He headed United Way campaigns, and was active with establishing the Henderson-Vance Recreation Department and youth facilities in the county.

His involvement was fundamental in constructing the new cultural center in Vance County that will be completed in 2014 with a performing arts center adjacent to the Perry Memorial Library.


Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.