Bolivia, N.C., resident Bob Wydra on Thursday presented an $11,600 check to the South Piedmont Community College Foundation, a gift that memorializes his brother, Jeff Wydra, and is many times larger than he originally planned.
“We are deeply grateful for the Wydra family’s generosity and the relationship we now share,” said President Dr. Maria Pharr. “Their gift will make a life-changing impact for our students. What a beautiful way to pay tribute to Jeff. Many, many thanks to the Wydra family for their support of SPCC.”
Jeff Wydra worked for an electrical contractor in Stallings until his sudden death last year at age 58.
“It was a profound loss. It hit me pretty hard. It hit my family pretty hard. It was devastating, really,” said Bob Wydra. “We wanted to find a way to work out the grief and keep his memory and his legacy going.”
Bob Wydra started looking for philanthropic opportunities and soon discovered South Piedmont. Its construction and trade programs would have particularly excited his brother, Bob Wydra said.
“He saw a need to build the skilled trade pipeline. A lot of people in the field are getting older, and we need new people to get into the business to build that continuum,” Bob Wydra said, adding that at the time of his death, his brother was mentoring a young person seeking a career in electrical contracting.
Sold on the idea of giving to South Piedmont to honor his brother, Bob Wydra initially planned to give $500, but as he learned more about the College, he was inspired to do much more.
He and his brother and sister, Chris Wydra and Jill Lovitt, started a GoFundMe page in honor of Jeff, and in April, staged the first-ever Jeff Wydra Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament. Fifty-two golfers participated in the event at Red Bridge Golf Club in Locust, N.C.
“As people started hearing about the GoFundMe page and the tournament, more and more people started to support what we were doing,” Bob Wydra said.
“They all told me how awesome my brother was, how great he was to work with, how they’ll never be able to replace him. That meant so much to us.”
The Wydra family’s $11,600 donation will provide scholarships to students enrolled in construction and trade programs.
Bob Wydra hopes this gift is merely the beginning of his family’s relationship with South Piedmont. He and his siblings are planning a second golf tournament. They hope to raise $15,000 to create an endowed scholarship.
“Jeff and I both attended a community college. We know what it did for us, in terms of getting us started in our careers,” Bob Wydra said.
“Education can affect someone’s life so much. That will be my brother’s legacy.”
The South Piedmont Community College Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit organization established to receive tax-exempt contributions to support the mission of the College and the needs of its students. The Foundation also serves as an advocacy group for the institution, endeavoring to promote its services and enhance its image. Learn more at spcc.edu/support-spcc.
Learn more about SPCC’s construction programs at https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/construction.