Ben Piggott makes a difference from tragedy

Livingstonian Makes a Difference

Livingstonian Makes a Difference

Man Turns Tragedy into program offering promise . . .

Wesley Young/Winston-Salem Journal | Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:38 pm

The violent death of his brother more than 20 years ago continues to reverberate through the life of Ben Piggott, but in a way that promises hope rather than despair.

Piggott, in anguish over the shooting death of his younger brother, Kermit Bruce Piggott, decided years ago that instead of wanting revenge he would try to do something to make his community a better place — and a less violent one. He began rounding up “peace toys” to give away to children at Christmas.

From a modest start, Piggott’s effort has grown to the point that for the second straight year it will be held in the Joel Coliseum Annex rather than at the Russell Community Center on Carver School Road where he works.

Piggott’s 21st annual Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange will be held Friday, Dec. 20. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and registration ends at 6:45 p.m.

The idea is for kids to exchange violent toys — guns or violent video games — for computers, bicycles, dolls and other peaceful toys.

Last year, Piggott said, about 700 children were involved. Piggott said he believes the number could reach 1,000 this year. Although he has only a small pile of toys now, by the time the event takes place a room at Russell Community Center will be packed with donated items.

Piggott said his brother and a friend were arguing in 1991 when the friend shot his brother. Ben Piggott, who was in his early 30s, had just gotten a job as recreation director at Sims Recreation Center.

Healing was hard, Piggott said.

“I was angry,” he said.

But a man he met told him that he should put everything in God’s hands and that if he did, “I would see things that I never had seen before.”

Piggott went through a program that helps survivors of violence deal with their losses. It helped spark an idea that turned into Peace Toys for War Toys. He thought about how his brother and his friend had never meant for the argument to come to such a tragic end.

The idea of swapping war toys for peaceful toys caught on, Piggott said.

“We must teach the children about control instead of going off on your emotions and acting on that,” Piggott said. “Instead of fighting, turn to love to solve the problem.”

Piggott’s event started out at Sims Neighborhood Center and moved to Russell Community Center when Piggott did. But it outgrew the recreation center last year and moved to the Annex.

People planning to attend the event are asked to bring some nonperishable food, which will be donated to AIDS Care Service. The Winston-Salem alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority is taking charge of that.

“What we are seeking to do is assist those who are most affected with HIV and AIDS, and we understand there is a great need for food,” Lisa Smith, with the sorority’s alumnae chapter, said. “We supported AIDS Care last year and hope to double that this year.”

Piggott said it is important for those who are receiving help to also give it.

“We want the people who are receiving to also be donators,” he said.

Piggott said it takes about 60 volunteers to put on the toy exchange. He takes new and lightly used toys.

“We want basketballs, footballs, dolls and educational videos,” Piggott said, outlining some of the more popular items.

Above all, he needs bikes and mininotebook computers to give away, Piggott said.

“When they get a computer they will be jumping up and shouting,” Piggott said.


Livingstone College Grad Follows Her Passion . . .

Note: If you attended the homecoming game this year, you may have seen this Pink Truck parked outside the stadium entrance. This Livingstone College grad has an inspiring story to share.
Fashion Foward (and Reverse)
Fashion Foward (and Reverse)
Meka Harrell sits at the entrance of her “store.”Meka Harrell is hoping to become a “driving force” in local women and children’s fashion.

The Baltimore native is the proud owner of Pink Culture Inc., billed as the Triad’s first fashion truck. She opened the doors to her vibrant “Barbie pink” Chevrolet Step Van in August during a Greensboro event, officially embarking upon a dream that began more than a decade ago when she got her first job working in her godfather’s clothing boutique.

Harrell said she was a tomboy prior to starting at the boutique, but she quickly fell in love with clothes and fashion there.

“Honestly, I worked for clothes when I was 16,” confessed the 32-year-old. “I worked and bought clothes … I was kind of like a walking billboard for my godfather’s store.”

Fashion was a positive escape from the harsh realities of Harrell’s youth. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Her father was murdered when she was four, and her mother was addicted to drugs. Many of her friends had dropped out of school by the time they reached eighth grade. Never one to follow the crowd, Harrell, who relocated to Winston-Salem during her senior year of high school, earned her diploma and then became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree after completing her studies at Livingstone College.

“I’m always asked the question, ‘How do you do that when you don’t have any positive influences around you?’ I’ve always had this motivation to be successful,” related Harrell, who also holds an MBA from Pfeiffer University. “I think it’s weird, but I always believed, I felt like God told me to be successful.”

Harrell spent years in the corporate sector at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and later at BB&T, where her husband, JoColby Harrell, works as a mortgage loan officer, but says she never felt fulfilled. With the birth of their second child, Maveric, six months ago, the couple decided it was time for her to take a leap of faith and start the company.

“After Maveric was born, we prayed about it, and we decided she was finally going to step out on her dream, and I was 100 percent behind her,” JoColby Harrell said. “This is her passion.”
Harrell used her maternity leave to research and plan Pink Culture Inc. The couple purchased the used van after finding it on Craigslist and, with the help of family, their church family at Winston-Salem First and friends, began to outfit the former plumbing van into a destination for fashionistas.


“It’s something for everybody … anyone who loves fashion,” Harrell said of the fashion offerings creatively displayed in the van.

The van has logged many miles with Harrell behind the wheel. She’s parked and opened her doors to attendees at festivals and events in Greensboro, Charlotte and Winston-Salem, where Pink Culture Inc. was a hit attraction at the recent Pride and Fiesta festivals. The van also has made stops at Winston-Salem State University and Salem College. Being able to meet her customers where they are – literally – is one of the many advantages of operating a mobile business, Harrell said.

“The main advantage to this is not having to pay a lease fee because everything you need is right here in the truck,” noted Harrell, who will bring the truck to her customers if they commit to a purchase of $25 or more. “I have the advantage of going to people’s homes, going to different festivals, or just parking on a random street. It attracts attention because it’s bright pink.”

Fittingly, Harrell’s most successful venue to date was her alma mater, Salisbury’s Livingstone, where her fellow Blue Bears were keen to open their wallets during last month’s Homecoming.

Meka Harrell carries a unique variety of clothing and accessories in his Pink Culture van.

Meka Harrell carries a unique variety of clothing and accessories in her Pink Culture van.

“I had a line wrapped around my truck of people waiting to come in,” she happily reported. “I’m still on a high from that.”

Overall, Pink Culture has received high marks from customers.

“They love it,” Harrell said of her customers, who patronize her in person and on Instagram, where she also sells her wares. “They love the concept. I always get great compliments on the items and how innovative it is, the fashion truck.”

The truck is just Harrell’s latest venture. She started Colby’s Closet – an online children’s clothing store named for her four year-old daughter, ElleMari Colby Harrell – and Pink Culture Momtourage, a nonprofit for other mothers with a philanthropic bent.

“Pink represents femininity, and culture is for all cultures,” she explained. “That’s how I came up with the name.”

Although the Harrells are saving on day care costs because Meka cares for Maveric, JaColby Harrell said going from two incomes to one to make the business a reality was a sacrifice for the family. The reward – seeing his wife happy – was well worth it, though.

“I’m just so happy to see her finding her passion,” said the WSSU alumnus. “A lot of people don’t get achance to really follow their passion in life.”

 Meka Harrell with her husband, JoColby.

Meka Harrell with her husband, JoColby.

Meka Harrell said she believes she’s found her purpose in life, and she’s never felt more fulfilled. Already, she has inspired several friends to chase their dreams in their careers. She hopes to one day parlay her story as a first generation college graduate and businessowner to motivational speaking engagements, where she can encourage youngsters from difficult backgrounds to believe in their dreams.

“If you want things to happen, you just need to really pray about it and everything falls into place,” she remarked. “I feel like I’ve been stress free ever since I started the truck. It’s just in my spirit; I always knew what I wanted to do.”

View more photos of Harrell’s mobile business here.

For more information about Pink Culture Inc., follow the company on Twitter or Instagram @PinkCultrTruck, email or call 336-517-PINK.



Spotlight on Dr. Erby R. Oglesby . . .



Dr. Oglesby is a proud Blue Bear

Dr. Oglesby is a proud Blue Bear

Dr. Erby Rudolph Oglesby, a native of Granite Quarry, North Carolina, was Valedictorian of his high school graduating class in 1949 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Livingstone College in 1953, where he was an honor student.  In 1957, he earned his D.D.S. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and received a Fellowship from Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado in 1964 to study Restorative Dentistry.  He also received a M.S. degree in Removable Prosthodontics from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Missouri in 1971.

Brother Oglesby has had an extensive career in dentistry and the military.  He served in the United States Army as a dentist for twenty years and retired as a Colonel.  He served overseas in France, Germany, and Vietnam.  He was the only African-American Commander of a Dental Company in the U.S. Army from 1974-1977 at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.  He was an adjunct Clinical Professor at the dental school at Tuft University.  After his military career, he practiced Family Dentistry in Asheville, North Carolina for twenty-four years.

He has always been active in the communities in which he lived.  In Asheville, he served as Vice Chairperson of the Asheville City School Board, Chairman of the Board of Social Services in Buncombe County, served on the Board of Directors of the Asheville Symphony, Daniel Boone Boy Scout Council, the YMCA Board, and the First Union National Bank Western Regional Board.

In Kernersville, he is a volunteer with the Shepherd’s Center and serves on the Institutional Review Board of Winston-Salem State University.

Brother Oglesby served as the Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School teacher, member of the gospel choir and Chairman of the Trustee Board at the Hopkins Chapel AME Zion Church in Asheville, North Carolina.

He is an active member of the United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he serves on the Finance committee, Laymen’s League, Assistant Sunday School Teacher and Bible Study.

Brother Oglesby is a life member of the NAACP, the American Dental Association, and the North Carolina Dental Society.  He is a member of the International Optimist Club, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the Livingstone College Science Associates (1992), a recipient of the 60 year member pen of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and he was inducted into the Livingstone College Leaders Hall of Fame (2010).

He is the recipient of many military and civic honors: The Legion of Merit, The Army Commendation Medal, The Bronze Star, The National Defense Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Vietnam Unit Citation, The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Man of the Year (1980), The Business Associate of the Year of the Greater Asheville Chapter (1985), and The Chamber of Echoes Man of the Year (1988).

He and his wife, Treva, celebrated 53 years of marriage in April, 2013.  They have five adult children and four precious grandchildren.

He enjoys reading, traveling, listening to smooth jazz, and spending time with his grandchildren.


Spotlight on Dorothy Wynecoff . . . Still Going Strong

Dorothy Wynecoff Class of '48

Dorothy Wynecoff
Class of ’48

College Organizations:  
Member of the Choral Union
Member of the College Octet
Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.- Alpha Xi Chapter
Member of the Student Council

Life Work:    
Clerk Typist at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospital – 13yrs
Teacher in Forsyth County Winston-Salem School System – 24yrs
Married to Donnell Wynecoff (59 yrs), deceased
Daughter – Dr. Debra R. Wynecoff-Ogden, Winston-Salem, NC
Grandson – Garry A. Ogden, Jr., CPA, Conyers, Ga.
Granddaughter – Sophia E. Ogden, Conyers, Ga.

Special Recognitions:  
Hat Queen in the book, “Crowns”
Miss Goler Metropolitan 2002
Miss Livingstone Alumni in 1951

Community Involvement/Interests:  
Member of Goler Metropolitan AME Zion Church
Member of Goler’s Cathedral Choir
Life member of the Woman’s Home & Overseas Missionary Society
Vice-President of the Stewardess Board
Member of the Goler Christian Education Board
Member of Goler Sunday School
Member of Phi Omega-Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Member of Phi Omega, Inc.
Member of the Sittercise Class at the Carl Russell Recreation Center
Favorite/Most Memorable Livingstone Moment (s): 
Senior Voice Recital on May 15, 1948, my birthday and on Mothers Day with my mother (Sadie Ellis) in attendance.
Crowning of “Miss Alumni” – 1951  (Winston-Salem Chapter)
Singing in the College Choir & Octet

Livingstone College Class Reunion Pictures . . .

2013 Reunion Class Photos shared by Carmen Wilder (Alumni Affairs)

It was a great reunion year for Livingstone College with a combined total of $210,000 contributed to the school. The Class of 1963 (Golden Grads) contributed the largest ever Reunion gift of over $104,000 and received the Outstanding Reunion Class Award!

W-S chapter members included: Dr. Oglesby (’53), Peggy Moore (’68), Jackie Astrop (’73) and Orlando Mitchell (98).

Class of 1998

Class of 1998

Class of 1973

Class of 1973

Class of 1968

Class of 1968

Class of 1953

Class of 1953

Spotlight on Dr. James W. Ferree . . . A Life of Service

Dr. James W. Ferree

Dr. James W. Ferree, Sr.

Year graduated: 1952

College Major:  Religious Education

Life Work:  Clergy

Most Memorable Experience while at Livingstone:  At my 1952 commencement, speaker Dr. Mordecai Johnson spoke for ninety minutes in ninety-degree weather without air conditioning.

James Walter Ferree was born in Randleman, North Carolina. He graduated from Central High School in Asheboro, North Carolina, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Livingstone College and a Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina. Further study was done at Union Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. On May 10, 1987 he received an honorary Doctorate Degree from High Point University, High Point, North Carolina.

Before retiring, he actively served in the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church for 46 years. He has served as District Superintendent for the Eastern District of The North Carolina – Virginia Conference of The Methodist Church from 1965–1968. From 1969-1974, he served as an Associate Program Director of the Conference on Ministries of the Western North Carolina Conference with headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After serving as pastor of St. Matthews United Methodist Church, Greensboro, North Carolina for five years, Dr. Ferree was appointed as District Superintendent of the Gastonia District (1979-1984), In June 1984, he was appointed as Director of Conference Council on Ministries. In June 1988, Dr. Ferree was appointed as District Superintendent of the Winston-Salem District. From this position he retired in June 1995. He was then asked to serve as Director of Ethnic Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church from 1997-1998. Dr. Ferree was again asked to come out of retirement to serve as pastor of Simpson-Gillespie Church in Charlotte, North Carolina from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000.

Dr. Ferree has held various positions at all levels of the church.  He served as President of The North Carolina Council of Churches from 1980-1983. His long and distinguished career has included a deep commitment and involvement in the cause of Christian unity, social justice, and peace.

Specifically, he has given generously of his time and talent to The North Carolina Council of Churches. He was later Treasurer and Chairperson of the Finance Committee. He also served in other offices and leadership positions within the Council. Very few people have provided such strong and able leadership and support over a long period of time to The North Carolina Council of Churches. And, of course he has been an important link between the Council and the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. The North Carolina Council selected The Reverend Dr. Ferree to be the recipient of the 1994 Distinguished Service Award and presented it to him at a meeting of the Council’s House of Delegates on April 19, 1994, at the Highland United Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. The award signifies outstanding contributions to the cause of ecumenism in the state of North Carolina.

He has served as a member of the General Board of Church and Society from 1980-1988 with headquarters in Washington, DC. He has served on the Board of Trustees at Lake Junaluska and served on the Board of Trustees at Pheiffer College. Dr. Ferree served as a delegate to the 1967 Special Jurisdictional Conference and as a delegate to the 1968, 1972, 1984, 1988 and the 1992 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.

He has served as chairman of Leaders for Reconciliation of Winston-Salem; he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Church Center in Winston-Salem, a member of the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina from 1990-1996, and secretary of the Board of Directors of Smart Start in Winston-Salem.  In 2013 he received the Human Rights Award from Church Women United.

Dr. Ferree continues to serve on the Board of Directors for many organizations: The United Campus Ministry (former president) which serves Winston-Salem State and A & T State Universities, Bethlehem Community Center of Winston-Salem, NC (former president), The Children’s Home, Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community (former Chairman of Admissions Committee), North Carolina Council of Churches (former president), the Western North Carolina caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (former president) where he now chairs the committee on Recruiting Young People for Ministry, and as a volunteer Chaplain at Forsyth Hospital in Winston-Salem. He also continues to volunteer for Senior Services, Meal on Wheels and mans the information desk at Piedmont International Airport. He serves as guest speaker and fills in for local pastors in pulpits.

Dr. Ferree was honored recently, February 2012, by having a wing named for him at the newest assistant living building, Asbury Place, at Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community. Also in 2012 he was the recipient of the Bishop James Walker Hood Donor Recognition Award presented by Hood Seminary. In 2013 he received the Human Right Award from Church Women United for his leadership and activism in human rights.

He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and has been named “Man of the Year” by both the Charlotte and Winston-Salem Chapters.  In 2013 he was presented with the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Pan-Hellenic Community service Award in appreciation of his commitment, dedication, and loyal service to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and the communities of Winston-Salem. In 2013 he was the recipient of the Pan Hellenic Council’s Community Service Award for service to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Dr. Ferree has his charge conference, and teaches Sunday School at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem.

Dr. Ferree is married to the former Doris Humphrey Davenport.  He has a son, James Ferree, Jr. a daughter, Jaffee White, a stepdaughter, Kimberly Davenport-Jackson and four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Spotlight on Carmen Wilder . . .

Carmen Wilder

Carmen Wilder

Year Graduated: 1997

Most Memorable Moment While at Livingstone College: Being initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Carmen was instrumental in getting the W-S Chapter up and running again this summer and, has provided support and encouragement as we plan the year ahead. We appreciate her enthusiasm and love of Livingstone College.



 Educational Background

Masters in Business Administration, 2006

Franklin University

Columbus, OH

Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, 1997

Livingstone College

Salisbury, NC


Livingstone College-Salisbury, North Carolina

Assistant Vice President of Development, Alumni Relations

Columbus School for Girls– Columbus, Ohio

Events and Volunteer Coordinator, Development Office

Systel Office Systems – Greensboro, North Carolina

Account Executive

Enterprise Rental Company-Greensboro, North Carolina

Management Assistant (1997 – 1998)


Livingstone College National Alumni Association, Member

Salisbury Rowan Davie Alumni Chapter, Member

North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Member

Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Member

Leadership Rowan, Class of 2013-14

Community Involvement

Youth Leader at Cornerstone Church (Salisbury, NC)

Volunteer Coordinator at Cornerstone Church (Salisbury, NC)

Livingstone College, Pre-Alumni Advisor

Group Fitness Instructor, YMCA

Livingstone College Golden Grads . . . in 1998

Golden Grads: 50 Years After Graduation, Three Sisters Are Honored by Their College

Publication Date: June 22, 1998 Page: 1 Section: D Edition: CITY

The saying “A family that prays together stays together” has held true for a lifetime for sisters Mildred E. Knox, Dorothy E. Wynecoff and Olivia E. Morgan.

They’ve been praying together since as far back as they can remember, when their father, Golden C. Ellis, was an African Methodist Episcopal Zion preacher. One of the things they fondly remember their father preaching both in and out of the pulpit was the importance of education beyond high school.<

From early on the Ellis girls said they knew that they would be headed to college and pretty much knew that they would be going toLivingstone College in Salisbury.

“We always knew that we would go to Livingstone,” Wynecoff said. “Daddy said that kids from the church could go for nominal fee since the school was supported financially by the church.”

That was over half a century ago. Now, 50 years after their graduation, the three women returned to Livingstone to share the stage for another honor.
Last month they were inducted into the college’s Golden Anniversary Club, an alumni organization for graduates who are celebrating their 50th alumni year.

“It was so exciting to go back, to see old friends . . . just to be back to see the maples and the oaks,” Wynecoff said.

This time around, the sisters were decked out in shimmering gold caps and gowns for the honor instead of the school’s traditional black and blue colors.
The sisters are not triplets, but, seemingly by fate, they all graduated from college at the same time. Knox, age 73, started atLivingstone in 1943, Wynecoff and Morgan in 1944. They graduated in 1948.

“I graduated from Atkins High School in 1942 and worked for a year before beginning at Livingstone,” Knox explained. “Then I took another year off after my junior year to get married.”

Wynecoff, 72, also worked the first year after high school before going off to college. Morgan, 70, joined her sisters directly out of high school.
The sisters say they have always been close and gotten along well. That closeness carried over into their college years as well. “We were all roommates at one point, until the year that Mildred took off to get married, then it was just me and Olivia,” Wynecoff said. The three also renewed their sisterhood by joining the same sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Even though their college days are long behind them, the three have continued their camaraderie. All the sisters eventually married and had their own families. With the exception of Morgan – who went to be with her husband, who was in the military, for three years during the 1950s – the three sisters have always lived in the same city.

They are also still praying together. All sisters are members of Goler Metropolitan AME Zion Church, where they have been worshiping since the late 1940s. Now they keep themselves busy working in various church groups. Knox is an assistant organist for the cathedral choir where Wynecoff sings in the soprano section. Morgan has been the superintendent of the Sunday School department. All three are church missionaries, and all remain actively involved with their sorority

The three are now grandmothers, with 13 grandchildren between them. But they still find time to share in each other’s lives. They occasionally have lunch or get together for birthdays or family reunions. Wynecoff and Morgan say they talk on the phone almost daily.

When not on the phone, the three usually get together at Morgan’s house. The sisters still sound like school girls as they reminisce about their school days, complimenting one another on the different honors each has received over the years. They still speak lovingly of their father’s days as a preacher as they thumb through a scrapbook of his 53 years in the ministry.

They still have their fond memories of growing up as close sisters. The only difference, Morgan said, is “Now we’re golden girls.”

Note: Dorothy E. Wynecoff and Olivia E. Morgan are  current members of the W-S Alumni Chapter and all three sisters plan to be at Homecoming next week celebrating 65-years after graduation.