So the all-volunteer organization is celebrating its sweet first 16 years, but members are already working to increase their ranks while raising another $1 million to help women and girls in Delaware. Kay Preston, chair of the Fund for Women, predicts reaching that goal won’t be a problem.
“We have momentum, and people just want to be a part of it,” she says. “Now that people have heard more about us, they want to be part of the community and the sisterhood of the Fund for Women.”
The fund was established in 1993, when the original 16 founders set out to recruit 1,000 folks who would each contribute $1,000 to become a founder. The goal was to fund a $1 million endowment with the Delaware Community Foundation.
That endowment has reached $2.3 million, including $1 million from the Swinging With a Star golf tournament run by the Fund for Women’s founders. So far, more than $1.2 million has been awarded to 216 nonprofit programs that serve women and girls in Delaware.
A handful of the many grant recipients includes Child Inc., La Esperanza, the Food Bank of Delaware and Lutheran Community Services in Wilmington. Because of the ailing economy, a portion of last year’s grants went to programs that address basic needs such as food, shelter and utilities.
Preston has heard many heartwarming stories about how women (and girls) have been moved to join the fund’s ranks. A single mother stood at an event and told how a program funded by the grant helped her finish college and inspired her to become a founder. A young girl once forfeited her birthday presents and Christmas gifts in order to become a founder like her grandmother.
For those who can’t swing a $1,000 lump sum, prospective founders are allowed to spread payments over five years.
Preston became a founder in 2003 after a friend told her about it. “It’s been very worthwhile and enriching to me,” she says. “We belong to the women of Delaware.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: Remember Him | Delaware native and screenwriter Will Fetters’ first film hits theaters next month.
Delaware native and screenwriter Will Fetters’ first film hits theaters next month.
Will Fetters was a 22-year-old senior at UD in 2003 when he penned the screenplay for his first feature film.
“I was the ultimate cliché,” Fetters says, laughing. “I wrote the draft script, got in my Honda Accord and drove to LA.”
Never mind that Fetters had studied political science and finance with the goal of becoming a lawyer. He was suddenly heading to Hollywood to become a screenwriter.
It took a few years, but Fetters has finally hit it big. His first script produced a film that will be released in theaters next month. “Remember Me,” which “is much bigger than a traditional love story,” says Fetters, stars Robert Pattinson of “Twilight” fame.
“We got lucky when the vampire took the role,” says Fetters. “Without him, we wouldn’t have gotten the money.”
Fetters, a 1999 graduate of Salesianum, says the script for “Remember Me” holds very close to what he originally wrote while hanging out at the Stone Balloon, a former Newark landmark known for rockin’ bands and revelry.
“It is very much a movie I came up with,” he says. “The story is set in a college setting at New York University. The characters go to a bar. I can’t really say more than that.”
It seems Fetters is well on his way. Since “Remember Me,” he has written three screenplays for Warner Bros. He adapted the Nicholas Sparks best-seller “The Lucky One,” is writing a remake of “A Star is Born,” and is working on “Crazy for the Storm,” his first non-love story. He has also inked a deal to write a TV show for The WB network.
“In this business, you have to keep proving yourself, but it’s safe to say I’ll keep working for the foreseeable future,” Fetters says. “You can’t feel like you’ve made it. I’m here, but I have to go out and prove myself each time.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: Media Watch | All Eyes on Delaware.
All Eyes on Delaware.
The latest book by UD journalism prof and all-around writing guru Ben Yagoda has received rave reviews from some of the biggies, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor. “Memoir: A History,” released late last year through Penguin’s Riverhead Books, has been described as a biography of the memoir. “Memoir” takes readers through the history of the form, from early Christian writings to James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” and O.J.’s “If I Did It.” Yagoda includes a nifty index of the memoirists and autobiographers covered in the book. Writes the Times critic: “Yagoda’s incisive exploration is a worthy study of a genre that even now cannot completely be defined.” Now that he’s gotten the biography of memoirs out of his head, we’re wondering when
Yagoda will tackle that coffee table book about coffee tables. —Drew Ostroski
Page 3: New at DSU? | Not exactly, but Harry Lee Williams is in it for the long haul anyway.
Not exactly, but Harry Lee Williams is in it for the long haul anyway.
Harry Lee Williams has many positives going for him as he takes over as the 10th president of Delaware State University. At 45, he’s relatively young. He’s upbeat and energetic. And he’s very familiar with DSU. He served as the provost and vice president of student affairs for 18 months before accepting his current post.
“My (provost) office is one door down from the president’s, so I’ll just move my stuff down the hall the night before,” Williams said, laughing, before starting his new job January 10.
Williams faces tough economic times. (Universities have received less government funding in recent years.) But he must also still the waves left by his predecessor, Allen L. Sessoms. Sessoms resigned in August 2008 to become president of the University of the District of Columbia. Some at DSU and within its alumni believed Sessoms was moving the university away from its identity as a historically black institution.
In announcing Williams’ hiring, John Land, acting chair of the DSU Board of Trustees, addressed the issue directly: “We need a leader who understands that and can expertly merge our historic purpose with the need to be known as an institution of higher education that exceptionally educates all students for a global marketplace.”
Williams—who credits Sessoms with laying groundwork for research, adding doctoral programs, and building state-of-the-art wellness and student centers—says he’s up to the task.
“We are an 1890 land grant institution set up to serve African-American students,” Williams says. “There are 18 1890 universities in this country and 105 historically black colleges and universities. It’s a unique brand, to say the least. It’s something you can promote and embrace.”
When asked how long he expects to remain at DSU, Williams says, “If I can last 20 years, I’ll still be young at the end of the process. I hope my tenure here will be a long time.” —Drew Ostroski