Those who don’t know Bill Hager may think his plan to raise $20,000 by the end of April to be a bit ambitious. Those who do know him wouldn’t be surprised at all if he surpasses that figure.
Hager, hoping to build on his recent fundraising success at Orange County High School, has launched the Orange County High School Alumni and Friends Foundation.
The goal, the 1958 OCHS graduate said, is to create a sustaining scholarship fund to support OCHS graduates pursuing vocational or technical education.
In the past five years, Hager, a 1958 OCHS graduate, has helped raise more than $100,000 to benefit his alma mater—first, by replacing nearly 20-year-old band uniforms, and most recently by establishing the Sizemore Fitness Center in the old high school gym.
“The idea came into my head when we were working on the Sizemore Fitness Center project,” Hager said. “We’d raised more than $50,000 for that and I thought we could continue that effort with a sustainable project.”
The immediate goal, he said, is to raise $20,000 by the end of April. Next year, the goal will be $30,000. Then $40,000 and by the fifth year, $100,000, he said.
“I talked with [OCHS secretary] Betty Almond and the best we could figure, there have been 15,000 people who graduated from Orange since 1952,” Hager said. “My hope, goal and dream would be that 5,000 of those graduates each give $20 a year to support the scholarship.”
Thus far, the 501c3 foundation has raised $7,300 with the support of four community partners: the Orange County Economic Development Authority, Mason Insurance Agency, Sedwick Building Supply and The Blane Stewart Team at NFM Lending. Hager said if the foundation reaches the $20,000 goal by April 30, the economic development authority will add an extra $5,000.
As the idea of the foundation formulated, he said he found that there are far more academic scholarships available for OCHS graduates than for those pursuing vocational and technical studies after high school.
To further the effort, the foundation is soliciting the help of students who one day may benefit from its purpose.
Earlier this week, Hager met with Orange County High School DECA Club sponsors Patrice Day-Owens and Whitney Milbourne and 10th-grader Hailey Davis to discuss marketing and promotion.
The partnership should be mutually beneficial since the challenges the foundation face will serve as the basis for Davis’ state DECA leadership project.
According to Day-Owens, students take a real-world problem, identify the challenges and work to find solutions as part of their project. They work in teams—usually of three students—and submit their project to be judged. The best ones can advance to the national level for recognition.
At a brainstorming session earlier this week, Davis and Hager, with guidance from Day-Owens and Milbourne, discussed social media, marketing, fundraising appeals and possible donor pools.
Davis has until the first week in February to submit her proposal.
While she’s working on that, Hager will be working on establishing a board of directors and organizational structure for the awarding of the scholarships at the end of the school year.
For more information on the foundation or to donate, contact Hager at (804) 400-6809 or visit www.ochsalumniandfriendsfoundation.com.