The Kulynych Family Foundations I and II, led by Brenda Kulynych Cline and her sister, Janice Kulynych Story respectively, recently donated real estate, personal property and cash equaling $1 million to support the establishment of the “Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program” at Wilkes Community College in honor of their late father, Petro Kulynych.
The chief goal of the Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program is to increase the number of students earning credentials that support workforce needs and provide a family-sustaining income, said Dr. Jeff Cox, president of WCC.
Advisors will be paired with students from admission through graduation, serving as the students’ academic success course instructor in their first semester. Advisors will assist students with career and academic planning, monitor student progress and refer students to support services as needed.
The new advising model complements and extends individualized attention being provided in high schools by Robert L. Strickland Career Coaches, Cox said. These are WCC employees based in area high schools and dedicated to serving the high school student population in their academic and career planning.
The Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program will begin operation during the coming fall semester, which starts in August.
The enthusiasm and support shared by Brenda Kulynych Cline and Janice Kulynych Story extends beyond financial contributions and ties to the positive legacy of their father, Cox said.
“The Kulynych Family Foundation I Inc. is honored to partner in this endeavor to enrich each student’s educational experience and increase the graduating population of Wilkes Community College,” Cline said. “The opportunity for a personalized guidance-based program aligns with the philosophy of our foundation guidelines and the philanthropic lives my parents led. The administration and staff are enthusiastically involved, and I have confidence in the success of the Petro Kulynych Student Advising Program.”
On behalf of the Kulynych Family Foundation II Inc., Janice Kulynych Story observed, “Although my father only completed a portion of some college accounting courses, he always stressed that education was a top priority. He was forced to leave those studies to support his growing family and was lucky to find a job with Carl Buchan at Lowe’s Companies.
“He became successful through tenacity and a willingness to work hard. His favorite saying was, ‘Do what you are told to do and then do 10% more – make yourself needed.’ As quoted from the well-known Broadway hit, Hamilton, ‘A legacy is planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.’ I believe this statement perfectly summarizes the desire and dedication to helping others my parents instilled in me throughout their lifetime,” Story said.
“They left our family with an amazing opportunity to invest in the community where I/we grew up and help improve the lives of our neighbors, not only in Wilkes, but throughout the nation. I hope this gift will assist (WCC) in guiding and directing students down their best path to attain marketable skills which, in turn, will open doors to a job that provides a family sustaining income, as well as a true sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Petro Kulynych, who originally built and resided in the home that was donated to the college, was one of the founding directors of Lowe’s Companies.
Kulynych joined Lowe’s in November 1946 as a bookkeeper and was the company’s first employee. During his Lowe’s career, Kulynych served in various positions, such as vice chairman, executive vice president under the office of president, chairman of the board, secretary of the investment sub-committee of the Lowe’s Profit-Sharing Plan and Trust, co-trustee of the Lowe’s Companies Employee Stock Ownership Plan and chairman and president of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.
After retiring, Kulynych, along with his wife, the late Roena Mae Bullis Kulynych, remained in Wilkesboro and their philanthropic activities grew when they established foundations that have supported educational institutions, service organizations and other nonprofits, as well as various causes in Wilkes and other area counties with grants and donations. The N.C. Planned Giving Council named Mr. and Mrs. Kulynych philanthropists of the year in 1998.
“This generous gift from Kulynych Family Foundations I and II will be transformational for (WCC) and the students we serve,” Cox commented. “Spurred on by the encouragement, strategic thinking and funding support of Janice, Brenda and their families, we are creating an advising program like none other in the country. I cannot wait to see its positive impact on our students,” Cox said.