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Taft College centennial spurs donations

Kern County can proudly boast of many positive things.

Its massive agricultural output. Its leadership in alternative energy. Its huge oil industry. Its cutting-edge status in aerospace. But topping them all, Kern County is most justly famous for its extraordinary generosity.

This is a place where no worthy cause goes unsupported. No true need goes unmet. And no daring vision goes without those who share that vision and who will step up financially to bring it to reality.

This legendary spirit of giving is fully on display in the support now being shown for Taft College’s 100th anniversary Legacy Campaign.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $1 million. That money is dedicated to providing Taft College students with the newest and finest in modern educational technology.

Shortly after the launch of the campaign, support for this visionary goal has been pouring in from major corporations, from private individuals, and from the Taft community itself.

It’s been said, “To give gladly is to give twice.” In other words, the spirit in which a gift is given is often as important as the gift itself.

College leaders have singled out five major donors who, they say, deserve special recognition both for their exceptional generosity and for the whole-hearted support their gift represents.

Taft College’s superintendent and president, Dr. Debra Daniels, said: “Without the valuable support of local industry partners and business leaders over these last 100 years, Taft College would not have been able to consistently meet the evolving educational needs of our students as they ready themselves for workforce entry or university transfer. I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to these five longstanding corporate sponsors for their continued support that will be dedicated to our new vocational building to extend our career and technical education offerings.”

● Chevron, $250,000: “Chevron is proud to be a longtime member of the Taft community, which is home to many of our employees. We are so happy to celebrate this special milestone with Taft College by providing this contribution to support vocational education," the company said.

● Valley Strong Credit Union, $100,000: “We are pleased to support a venture that serves a similar mission to our own,” said Nick Ambrosini, president and CEO at Valley Strong. “Taft College is a premier education institution and continues to build a better tomorrow for both our members and communities.”

● Dignity Health Memorial and Mercy hospitals, $100,000: “Dignity Health is exceptionally pleased to support Taft College during its centennial year and looks forward to the impact the school will continue to make during its next 100 years,” said Ken Keller, president and CEO of Dignity Health, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

● California Resources Corp., $100,000: “Our core values of character, responsibility and commitment direct how we conduct our business, contribute to our communities, support local economies, protect the environment and interact daily with our stakeholders. CRC has a strong dedication to our local communities where we live and work,” said Gabriela Gonzales, external affairs adviser.

● Synagro, $50,000: “Synagro is honored to be involved at the beginning to encourage others to give to this. This campaign will support the most needed programs and students at Taft College with a goal of raising one million dollars. I hope you will join Synagro and Leave Your Legacy to Taft College,” sad Jamie Little, community relations specialist.

Together, these five local companies have contributed $600,000, putting the Legacy campaign well past the halfway mark toward its $1 million goal.

Campaign leaders also are inviting all living alumni of the more than 1 million students who’ve attended Taft College over the years to contribute $100 each.

Gala events celebrating the centennial have drawn hundreds to prestigious events on the college's newly designed campus, culminating with the Centennial Gala on Saturday.

The star of the event was legendary Taft College alumnus Dante Scarnecchia, famed offensive line coach for the National Football League’s New England Patriots. Scarnecchia himself was surprised by special video tributes from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, former quarterback Tom Brady, former guard Stephen Neal (who also is a former Cal State Bakersfield wrestler) and many other friends in the NFL.

In all, Taft College's centennial year is launching the college to whole new levels of educational excellence and to new heights in preparing its students for successful careers and meaningful lives.

To become part of the Taft College Legacy Campaign, contact or contribute to: Taft College Foundation, 29 Cougar Court, Taft, CA 93268. Call 661-763-7936.

Sheri Horn-Bunk is executive director of the Taft College Foundation.