Charleston Fund for Concord Dinner a Success: Moving Speech by Student Elicits Standing Ovation
Charleston, W.Va. – The Charleston Fund for Concord University dinner, held at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on Thursday, November 18, drew almost 200 guests to an annual event that has featured speakers from national and worldwide corporations.
Mr. David J. Zuercher, chair of Acordia and executive vice president international for correspondent banking and insurance services of Wells Fargo & Company served as keynote speaker at the sixth annual event that began with a reception at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.
“Over the years, this event has had a lasting effect on Concord,” stated David Kirby, committee chair for the planning committee, in his welcoming remarks to guests. “Whatever your affiliation with Concord, we are glad that you are here and we appreciate your steadfast support.”
Dan R. Moore, member of the planning committee provided the invocation.
Next, Concord University President Jerry Beasley welcomed guests and supporters and introduced student-speaker, Diana Massey. “This committee is the backbone of our volunteer efforts,” noted Dr. Beasley. They serve as an example for other alumni and friends of Concord. . . .
“Our student-speaker, Diana Massey, is an example, also. She is a non-traditional student from Oceana, W.Va., a grandmother with five children, and for two years, she has been driving two hours each way from Wyoming County to Concord University to earn a degree. She is an elementary education major with a 3.9 G.P.A. (grade point average) and will graduate this December. She plans on getting her master’s degree.”
Diana Massey stated that: “I knew that I had to get an education if I was ever to dig my way out of the poverty that was increasingly closing in around me. However, with five children totally dependent on me for nurture and security . . . it was easy to give in and just tolerate not having a nice dress or a vacation, or an education. Two of my five children are special needs children. They are full of love and gifts from God but they also have exorbitant medical bills, and they demand a lot of attention.
“I felt like Job—no matter what I tried, each time something else knocked me down. Then [friends] Peggy, Susan, and I decided we should enroll at Concord to finish our bachelors degree. It was the craziest thing in the world. I had no money, living in a place with holes, literally holes this big in the floors and walls, and I didn’t have a car. How could I go to Concord? Well, I traveled with Peggy and Susan to Concord’s campus and we met with Michael Curry who seemed to take an interest in our situation.
“It’s a fact: Were it not for the funds you give to Concord University, I would still face only further strife and hopelessness. But, because of your generosity and the scholarships I received, I fully believe that my life has been saved. I’m going to be a teacher! I hope that my experiences will help some kid somewhere in the coalfields who may be at risk of losing his or her future. Best of all, seeing Mom finish college may inspire my children to believe in themselves too—to believe that a better way is possible for them and their children as well,” she concluded.
The audience thanked Ms. Massey for her inspirational remarks with a rousing standing ovation.
Keynote speaker, David J. Zuercher, spoke next. “For the past three years, Wells Fargo has owned Acordia, which is a very large factor in the insurance industry in West Virgina, and Concord University is a very large factor in Acordia, with 15 graduates in Acordia.
“Wells Fargo is the nineteenth-largest company in the United States and the 29th-largest in the world in terms of profitability. We are one of only three AAA-rated companies and have given over $100 million to non-profits, including education. We are also one of the oldest companies in the United States, dating back to 1852, and we are the founders of the American Express company. Wells Fargo is a very diverse company with 83 separate businesses, including Acordia. Acordia is our flagship here in West Virginia.
“Our business is to connect our customers with the resources they need to succeed, whether that’s financial services today, or in the earliest days of our history, the express goods and transportation needed for the frontier. Our history can teach us about trust. Our locations in West Virginia connected our customers with the world. In Wheeling, W.Va., for example, early in our history, we earned the trust of an ice cream maker by ‘never letting the ice cream melt.’
“At Wells Fargo and Acordia, honesty, trust and integrity are not just the responsibility of senior management or our board of directors. We all share that responsibility, all 134,000 of our team members. Corporations do not have a conscience. People do. Corporate ethics is the sum total of thousands of ethical decisions made every day. If you really want to find out how strong a company’s ethics are, watch how its people act. . . . Everything we do is built on trust,” stated Zuercher.
The event raised almost $70,000 for Concord University, which will be used to fund scholarships for students.
The Charleston Fund for Concord University planning committee included: Chair David Kirby, David Barnette, Ann Burgess Booth, Faye Guilfoile, Joe Hatfield, Lou Ann Johnson, Melinda Ashworth Kiss, Garnette Lilly, William H. “Bill” McKee Jr., Dough Maddy, Betty Jo Moore, Andre Nabors, Daniel Palausky, Forrest Roles, Sue Sergi, Gaynell Steuber, Mary Frances Williams and Loretta Young.
For information on supporting Concord University, log on to www.concord.edu and click on “Donors & Supporters.”
PHOTO: Diana Massey, from Oceana, W.Va., speaks at the annual “Charleston Fund for Concord” dinner.