Tillery honored at luncheon

Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Family and friends of C. Faye Tillery, a beloved former Parks and Recreation employee who died of cancer, continue to honor her legacy by helping local young people.

The second annual C. Faye Tillery Youth Volunteer Scholarship luncheon was held April 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront. This is the fourth year in which the volunteer scholarships have been given.

Three local young people received the scholarships in honor of their volunteerism in the community. Nearly 150 people attended.

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Tillery died of cervical cancer at the age of 37, about 17 years ago. The family has since honored her memory in a variety of ways, including a basketball tournament, a back-to-school giveaway and the scholarships.

“Aunt Faye was an advocate of community service,” said niece Lisa Rountree. “She was big on community service. It’s a representation of my aunt, and that’s why we do what we do.”

Three students were honored during the April 1 event with cash awards. They were Wesley Wilkins of Forest Glen Middle School, Zoe McMorris of Norfolk’s Maury High School, and Vivian Waddell of Suffolk Christian Academy.

“This gives us an opportunity to award the students who are volunteering in the community,” said Vonda Holman-Carter, another niece of Tillery. “To me, it’s an encouragement to continue to do things in the community, because that’s the kind of stuff my Aunt Faye would do.”

Two community honorees also were recognized during the event. Vernell Ward has been a consistent giver to the back-to-school giveaway and scholarships since their inception, Holman-Carter said. Semeiko Gambrell also has been a consistent volunteer, committee member and donor since the beginning.

Vernell Ward, a Suffolk native, said she went to high school with Holman-Carter’s mother.

“When I found out this was something Vonda and her cousins were doing for the children of Suffolk, I just thought that was so amazing that they would think about the children from Suffolk,” Ward said. “I thought that was such a great thing to honor her aunt Faye but also her mother. Once her mother told me about it, I couldn’t not help.”

Ward said she thought it was a great idea to honor the young people who have been volunteering.

“I thought it was such a great idea for volunteers to receive awards,” she said. “You very seldom hear about young people who are volunteering in the community. For them to be recognized, to me, enforces to them to keep doing what they’re doing. Once you start at a young age helping people, that stays with you.”