On May 14, the Womack Foundation made a $50,000 donation to the George Washington High School (GW) band.
The donation was made on Thursday by Charles Womack and his mother, Bobbye Raye, in honor of the late Patrick Womack, Charles’ brother and Bobbye Raye’s son.
Patrick Ingram Womack was a Danville native, GW graduate and a multi-talented musician, who passed away from cancer on Monday, August 5, 2019, at UNC Hospice in Pittsboro, North Carolina. “His loves in life were music, the memories he had growing up in Danville, and the life-long friends he made at this school,” Charles Womack said.
While Patrick eventually moved to Hillsborough, where he “dove headfirst” into music, Charles said he kept his Danville music connection strong.
The Womack Foundation was established by Mr. and Mrs. Charles A.Womack, Sr. to provide financial assistance and improve educational and recreational opportunities in Danville and Pittsylvania County, as well as Caswell County, North Carolina.
Charles Womack, a lifetime board member of the Womack Foundation, said this donation to the band was the largest donation the organization made this year.
“It feels incredible,” he said. “[We] knew they needed this.”
Cody Kesling, GW band director, said this donation will be earmarked for the instruments the band needs most, including saxophones, flutes and clarinets.
“We have a growing band program here at George Washington High School, and this gift is specifically geared to making sure that our students have fantastic instruments to learn and play on,” Kesling said.
According to Kesling, nearly every student in the band program uses a school-issued instrument. There are currently 117 students that participate in the many band programs GW has to offer, including marching band, concert band, jazz band, indoor guard and more.
“It means a lot to me that the community is here to support the program, even in this time when my band room is silent, and it shouldn’t be,” Kesling said. “...This makes my heart explode with joy to know that our program is loved by the community.”
Kesling said the additional saxophones would be extremely helpful, as they are a crucial part of the program.
Jay Lancaster, GW principal, also said the donation shows just how much the community supports the band program at the school, and how the donation will continue to affect students 20 to 30 years in the future.
“This will affect kids that aren’t even born yet,” Lancaster said. “...This will fill a need. [This donation goes] directly into the students’ hands.”