Nearly 400 members of the community journeyed to “South Africa” on Friday for Polk State College Foundation’s eighth annual Wine for Wisdom – the premier fundraiser for student scholarships.
The College gym was converted for one evening into the plains of South Africa, with a sub-Saharan sunset as the backdrop, the sounds of the region performed by student musicians, and the country’s culinary fare shared in a five-course meal with wine pairings by The Disney Event Group.
The highlight of the night was the community’s opportunity to hear from one of the students who is able to pursue higher education at Polk State with the help of their donations.
“I know I speak on behalf of the entire student population when I say thank you for not only your financial contributions, but also for believing in me – in us,” said student Keston Maultsby. “When you donate, you are saying ‘you’re going to go places, you have a future, you’re going to succeed, and you’re going to grow.’”
Since its inaugural event in 2010, Wine for Wisdom has raised more than $350,000 for student scholarships.
The Foundation raises funds to fulfill the College’s commitment to providing the community with access to affordable higher education. Scholarships are a key way the Foundation accomplishes this goal.
“I know I speak on behalf of the entire student population when I say thank you for not only your financial contributions, but also for believing in me – in us,” said student Keston Maultsby.
Last fiscal year, students used $1.1 million in scholarship funds raised by the Foundation.
“We are all fans of Polk State College,” Foundation Executive Director Tracy Porter said in thanking attendees Friday evening. “Our contributions make this the vibrant community it is.”
Porter introduced Maultsby – a Winter Haven native with two siblings. He and his sister currently attend Polk State.
Maultsby, who aspires to join Walt Disney World’s Voices of Liberty, works at LEGOLAND Florida while also taking seven to eight classes a semester in Polk State’s Music program.
“I’m here to tell you my personal story of how you all have helped me achieve and grow at Polk State College,” Maultsby said. “When you donate and support our charity events, you’re not only supporting me, you’re not only supporting our students, and you’re not only supporting the school.”
“You are supporting the future of not only our country, but also of the world,” he said. “Education is the single most important thing in this world.”
Through education, Maultsby found the arts. Now, he can’t imagine what he would do without music, he said.
“So I could not imagine what I would do without all of you,” he said. “My life would be limited without all of the opportunities I have through education.”
Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti called Maultsby’s remarks a testament to the impact those who attend Wine for Wisdom and donate to the Foundation have on students.
“I would like to end by sharing my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you,” Falconetti said.
“Without you, many doors would not be open for our students,” she said. “For our students who are struggling, you make their lives transform.”