A legacy of giving back in Pitt County

In the spring of 2022, Kim Ball was looking for a scholarship administrator for a Pitt County scholarship fund, the Everett-Chia Li-Wilkerson Scholarship Fund.

The fund combined scholarships named for past Kiwanis Club of Greenville members – Grover W. Everett, Dr. Chia Li and Charles V. Wilkerson. The Kiwanis Club was disbanding but wanted the scholarships to live on, and the decision was made to consolidate the three funds and honor the founders.

Charles V. Wilkerson Sr.Ball, NCCF’s donor engagement officer for eastern NC, found that one name kept surfacing in her search – Emily Coffman. Ball reached out to Coffman to gauge her interest in leading the committee.

Ball shared that the scholarship originated from one of the Kiwanis Clubs of Greenville and that the club was disbanding. Coffman said she would consider it. When she mentioned it to her father, he reminded her that her grandfather had a Kiwanis scholarship in his name. She remembered attending the Kiwanis Club meetings with her grandfather as a young girl and being there when the first scholarship was presented.  

After making this connection, she decided to volunteer as scholarship administrator for the committee. Ball was thrilled to have Coffman join the committee and then shared the name of the fund: Everett-Chia Li-Wilkerson Scholarship Fund.

Coffman was floored – her grandfather was Charles Wilkerson.

“I remember the first time the Wilkerson Kiwanis Scholarship was presented.” Coffman said, who was close with her grandfather. “My grandfather was so thrilled to be helping someone further their education.” Years later her brother joined that same club and was also present for scholarship presentations.

Coffman, whose brother passed away in 2016, was excited to reconnect with something that was so important to her grandfather and her brother as well. This scholarship continues his legacy of giving back to the community and his strong desire for anyone that wanted to go to college to have the opportunity. Not only was he a big supporter for her education and later business endeavors, he also placed an emphasis on furthering others education, too.  

Charles V. Wilkerson Sr. FamilyHer grandfather always taught her that no matter what you have, you always have something to give.

“My grandfather placed a high value on education. He felt education was important and wanted to helped people that didn’t have the means to further their education,” Coffman said.

With the scholarship committee now in place, this year’s recipient was awarded $4,450 to study at East Carolina University.

For next year, the committee plans to publicize the scholarship more by connecting with high school guidance counselors who can make students are aware of the scholarship opportunity.

Coffman is continuing her family’s legacy and wishes to see others encouraged to receive a higher education.

“How could it not make me think about legacy? My grandfather and my parents always set an example of service in the community,” she said. “I hope that I have successfully demonstrated that same example to my children so they’ll be equally encouraged to help others. Together, we can all make the world a better place.”