Scannelli column: An everlasting gift…   

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2019

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When you mention the names Steve or Anne Sessions, expressions of regard quickly soften eyes and broaden smiles. Few people engender such esteem throughout decades of life and business interactions.

Steve Sessions, raised in Winston-Salem, married his college sweetheart, Anne, in 1974 and joined his father, Max, in operating Sessions Specialty Company. The company was then 32 years old, founded in 1946. In 1976, Anne, launched A New Leaf — a plantscape company that she nurtured with talent and skill into a thriving enterprise. Even with the commitments of two thriving local businesses and raising their two children, Ben and Kate, the Sessionses were not too busy to make time for others and the needs within the community. As members of River Oaks Community Church, their Christian faith leads and guides family life, work, generosity and community service.   

A glimpse into recent years illustrates their compassion and hearts — helping to organize youth mission trips; support to G.I.D.E. that helps Winston-Salem youth improve education outcomes; offering their farm to city kids for first-ever fishing trips or to UNCSA students to practice filmmaking; bringing joyful, creative experiences to children at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital through Arts for Life; supporting efforts to bring clean water to villages and children in Africa; helping Cancer Services, Inc. for families receiving a cancer diagnosis; and inspiring students and faculty alike at the UNC School of the Arts through Anne’s years of leadership time, talent and resources. These are but a handful of the many examples of their leadership, service and generosity. And then there are the countless quiet efforts that inspired or shaped a person’s life — a job for an individual with special needs or facing hardship, a prayer for a broken heart or to lift up someone taking on a new challenge, a shared meal to celebrate or to comfort, or encouragement for the discouraged.  Acts of thoughtful kindness and faith are common in the Sessions family … and an example for how each day should be lived.    

Establishing an endowment with the Clemmons Community Foundation affirms the commitment and continuity of community support so evident throughout the Sessions’ lives. A long-time, active Rotarian having served in club leadership roles, Steve Sessions was among the first to support the formation of the Clemmons Community Foundation — broadening the reach beyond club membership. The Rotary motto of “service above self” exemplifies the daily walk of both Steve and Anne. Now, as they start an endowment fund, the Sessionses hope to provide everlasting support to the charitable causes in which they have long served and believed in.         

Sandi Scannelli is president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation.