That question was answered last Tuesday during a Chatham Literacy first virtual spring author’s event.
The life of goats, the essence of life on a farm and the beauty of nature elevated to deeper inspiration were topics discussed at this fundraising event by noted author Jill McCorkle and documentarian and photographer Tom Rankin.
The couple’s presentation of home resonated with more than the 100 participants watching Chatham Literacy’s first virtual fundraising event. The discussion was both inspiring and often quite amusing and included Rankin’s lush, documentary-style photographs. The event raised over $15,000 for the nonprofit’s adult, literacy-based services.
“While we all miss getting together, Jill and Tom did a fantastic job inviting us into their home and engaging us in their world. You did not feel as if you were alone at your computer,” said Vicki Newell, Chatham Literacy Executive Director. “In-person programs are preferable, but I would do another virtual event in a heart-beat and hope that the community will join us again if that needs to happen for our major fall author event.”
Numerous sponsors supported this unique event including (Platinum): Godsey & Gibb Wealth Management; (Gold) Galloway Ridge at Fearrington; (Silver) Bruce and Dianne Birch, Carolina Meadows, Celebrity Dairy, Chatham News + Record, McIntyre’s Books, and the Wren Foundation; (Bronze) Mountaire Farms, Severt Smiles, In honor of Sybil England Clark – “reading and writing were her life”; and (Media Sponsor) Chatham Magazine.
The lunchtime event included live discussions with the couple about their recently acclaimed book, Goat Light, showcasing vivid photography and reflective stories about their rural Piedmont lifestyle. The lush text and photography has won accolades from buyers and critics alike.
Attendees say they loved the event. One couple stated, “It was such an interesting program…thank you for all the work you do [Chatham Literacy], and many thanks to the McCorkle/Rankin team for lovely visuals and interesting anecdotes.” Another said, “I did not want Jill and Tom to stop. I’m on my way to Fearrington Village right now to see the fainting goats. I might just get a goat as a house pet!”
The program also featured moving testimony from a Chatham Literacy tutoring team Christie Minchew and Janet Ramirez. With the support of her employer, Hispanic Liaison, Janet is working on her professional writing and communication skills through the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program.
“At first the reason I joined Chatham Literacy in 2019 was because my boss requested I do it,” Janet told participants, “But after a couple of tutoring sessions, I realized that I really wanted this improvement for myself so I could grow as an individual. After meeting Chatham literacy’s staff members, I felt extremely encouraged that I could better myself and that Chatham Literacy actually cared about my learning.”
Janet’s volunteer tutor, Christie Minchew, said she simply loved reading and wanted to teach others that enjoyment. When she challenged herself to teach ESOL to students of different nationalities Christie said she experienced multiple rewards, “The volunteer experience is definitely 2-ways. I have learned a great deal from each student. Thank you Chatham Literacy for giving me the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised!”