Luncheon celebrates Tillery’s life by giving back

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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It was a day of giving back and student recognition as the family of C. Faye Tillery, a former Suffolk Parks and Recreation employee, held its 10th annual C. Faye Tillery Youth Volunteer Scholarship Luncheon Saturday.

Sponsored by The C. Faye Tillery Fund, a group made of Tillery’s nieces and nephews, the luncheon saw 187 guests in attendance and awarded $10,000 to youth volunteers April 8 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront. 

Community Honoree awards were also presented during the event. Recipients are Crystal Artis and Warrenton Wilson for their work in giving back to the Suffolk community. 

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Along with a candle lighting to honor the deceased parents of the first cousins, members of the Tillery family also were honored at the luncheon and included both Vonda Holman-Carter with The Tillery Cousin of the Decade award and Dr. Andrea Tillery-Wilkins with the 2023 Cousin of the Year award. Past Community Honoree Belinda Pitts also attended as guest speaker. 

Scholarships winners are:

  • Gabriel McClendon, sixth place, $500
  • Taylor Rockett, fifth place, $500
  • Anna Gomer, fourth place, $1,000
  • Noelle Ingram, third place, $2,000
  • Courtney Toran, second place, $2,000
  • Sydney Barnes, first place, $4,000

Dr. Andrea Tillery-Wilkins, niece of C. Faye Tillery, also spoke on this year’s “culminating event” that occurs prior to the luncheon and making it “extra special” for their 10th anniversary.

“We always contribute to a community effort the weekend of the luncheon,” Tillery-Wilkins said. “This year 100 bags of ‘comfort items’ were donated to two facilities that provide treatment for cancer patients. This was in memory of our Aunt Joanne and Aunt Tomasina.” 

Items donated included journals, neck pillows, blankets, lotion, hand sanitizer, word searches/puzzles, pens and notepads. 

“All items were placed in blue, embroidered bags with our two aunts’ names on them,” she told the crowd at the event.

Tillery-Wilkins also reflected on the legacy of her aunt and the importance of continuing her legacy of helping people.

“Our aim is to show reverence and continue supporting and helping to uplift our community’s youth as our Aunt Faye did during her lifetime,” she said of the luncheon. “She was an integral part of the Suffolk Parks and Recreation staff, and she always found time to support the city’s youth. She instilled and modeled the importance of giving back to the community in her personal life. Because of her efforts, the City of Suffolk created the C. Faye Tillery Day years ago and used to hold basketball games and fun events in her honor. After several years of the city’s honoring Aunt Faye, the family decided to create our own community efforts in her honor.” 

Tara Tucker shared more on how the luncheon honors her aunt’s legacy of giving back to the community.

“She had a passion for the youth and we supported our youth’s educational journey with $10,000 in scholarships presented to our scholarship winners and we recognized Faye’s sons Darius and Damon, her only granddaughter Aaliyah and her extended family whom she loved dearly and often gave too without hesitation when they were in need,” Tucker said about the event.

Vonda Holman-Carter also spoke highly of her aunt and the 10 years of the luncheon giving back to the community.

“She loved working in the community and did it with a smile from her heart,” Holman-Carter shared lovingly. “Although we have celebrated Faye’s life for the past 25 years, we have only given scholarships for the past 10 years. It’s a great feeling to celebrate 10 years with $10,000 in scholarships.”