Blue Ridge Parade of Homes Scholarship Foundation Awards $50,000 in Scholarships to Local Students
The Blue Ridge Parade of Homes held its second annual awards banquet at Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery on Friday, May 7, 2021, awarding $50,000 in scholarships to five local students representing Gilmer, Fannin, and Union counties. Award recipients included Lexi McGill and Gabe Lera from Fannin County High School, Raul Gonzalez and Issac Bradshaw from Gilmer County High School, and Jeremy Stover from Union County High School.
Benefitting the area’s local youth through the Parade of Homes Scholarship Foundation, Blue Ridge Parade of Homes is an annual, three-day event held in North Georgia and features amazing homes sprinkled throughout the North Georgia mountains.
The event has drawn more than 5,000 attendees from 26 different states in its first two years, featuring 40 homes by eight of the regions most prominent builders including Don Clement, Travis Coleman, Ron Lomonaco, Marc Nicholson, Buzz Quintrell, Keith Sumner, Kevin Teague, and Tommy Wosyluk. The event has quickly established a tradition of showcasing a variety of spectacular homes and introducing exciting new trends to attendees from all over the country.
At its foundation, the mission of the Blue Ridge Parade of Homes and its sponsors is to give back to the community. With many of the participating builders being raised in the local area, the non-profit Scholarship Foundation is committed to giving back to public education in the North Georgia area, by way of providing scholarships to local students who plan to enter the construction field after graduation. In its inaugural year, the Scholarship Foundation awarded a $10,000 scholarship to Norma Solis from Gilmer County High School, a carpentry student in Dennis Wilson’s construction class. Solis was on hand to address attendees at this year’s banquet, taking the opportunity to express her gratitude for last year’s award. “This scholarship has changed my life in so many ways,” Solis shared. “I simply cannot thank everyone enough for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.”
This year’s scholarship awards featured a $40,000 increase over last year’s awards, thanks in large part to the generous contributions from local businesses who helped sponsor the 2020 Annual Parade of Homes event. “Without the help from our local businesses, we simply would not be able to give back to the community the way we have,” said event founder Keith Sumner. “It’s been absolutely incredible to see everyone come together and collectively contribute towards this amazing cause. It’s a perfect example of what can be accomplished when everyone shares the same mission, goals, and vision.”
The scholarship awards and banquet would also not have been possible without the support and cooperation from participating teachers and schools as well, including Charles Cattanach (construction) from Union County High School, Dennis Wilson (construction) from Gilmer County High School, and Bubba Gibbs (engineering), Terry Flowers (welding), Daniel Stewart (construction), and Lucas Roof (Director of Applied & Integrated Instruction) from Fannin County High School.
Wilson, now in his second year of being involved with the Scholarship Foundation, was particularly instrumental in helping to spread the word and help organize an effort to increase visibility of the scholarship opportunities throughout the area. “The opportunities afforded to these students is absolutely amazing,” said Wilson. “Students who aspire to pursue careers in trade professions are often the most underserved when it comes to scholarship opportunities and I felt an obligation to share it with educators throughout the region. You just don’t see scholarships like these being given out to students these days.”
Planning is ongoing for the 2021 Blue Ridge Parade of Homes event, being held October 8-10, with committee members meeting each week to discuss plans for the upcoming parade. Title sponsor, Folger Gas, is among more than fifty local business expected to contribute towards sponsorships for this year’s event, alongside attendee ticket sales helping to boost funds for future scholarships. Marc Nicholson, one of the eight builders and founding members commented, “Our goal is to increase the amount of our award scholarships each and every year. It’s no small task but with the help our our local businesses and school districts, we’re confident we can make that goal become a reality.”
Those looking to contribute to the Blue Ridge Parade of Homes Scholarship Foundation may do so directly through a donation via the website or inquire about sponsorship opportunities via the organization’s online application.