Stories of Excellence - Rise to Safety

Excellence at Mitchell is found not only in our students but also our employees. Bryan Ottone, Facilities Technician, knows that excellence goes beyond service to our students and local community - excellence is helping neighbors in need no matter how near or far.


After recent flooding in Louisiana, Ottone wanted to find a way to provide support. His talents as a musician seemed the natural outlet, and the idea of the Rise to Safety benefit music festival was born. Ottone recruited local bands and worked with Mitchell as well as the Red Cross to coordinate the music festival. With the immediate need for support to flood victims, Ottone knew such an event would take a lot of work, but he was not detered. "I want to help others and get the community involved in something as big and important as this," Ottone stated, adding he "isn't going to stop until it is done."


Ottone's enthusiasm along with personal stories of the Louisiana flooding's impact has made this a very unique event. After hearing about plans for the concert, one Mitchell employee shared the story of her brother, a life-long Louisiana resident, whose home was devastated by the flooding. Erin Dubea, Assistant Director of Admissions/Registrar, recounted how her brother and sister-in-law, Steven and Rachel, just purchased their first home in June 2016 and tirelessly worked to make it their own. The property included a workshop and teaching studio for Rachel's interior design and freelance art business. Their home and workshop sustained four feet of water damage. "The entire situation is completely heartbreaking for our family and friends. Steven and Rachel have worked so hard to make their dream home a reality," Dubea notes, "to know that I have colleagues who care enough about complete strangers to want to help them in any way they can means a lot to me." Proceeds from Rise to Safety will help Louisiana families in similar circumstances to Steven and Rachel. "[Rise to Safety] feels very personal to me considering my brother and his family are the recipients of so much kindness and concern from complete strangers. People helping people is a very powerful act, and I am grateful that in one’s toughest times our Mitchell Family is willing to reach out and help other people."


Music has a rich history at Mitchell and in the Iredell community. Ottone noted how many musicians are active in the area and how their shows help local businesses too. "The community needs music, and if we can help the community and help someone out by having local music that is even better," he said. Ottone hopes holding a benefit concert will spur others to take similar action. Emily Schuttenberg, Community Music Coordinator, said “Music is a fantastic way to bring the community together. This event is most exciting because this is the first time Mitchell has hosted a festival of local bands or a big concert with the purpose of raising charitable funds.”


Rise to Safety will be held at Mitchell Community College on Saturday, September 17. The festival is from 3:45-9 p.m. in Shearer Hall on Mitchell’s Statesville Campus. Admission is $10 per person with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross’s Louisiana flood relief efforts.