Outer Banks Community Foundation unveils new grant program, honors key contributors

Outer Banks Community Foundation unveils new grant program, honors key contributors

March 16th, 2023

While the biggest news to come from the Outer Banks Community Foundation’s annual meeting and luncheon this week was the revelation of their pending move to Manteo and opening of the Outer Banks Center for Nonprofits, there were other major announcements made at the celebration capping the organization’s 40th year.

And one of our very own was also honored with an award from the foundation launched in 1982 by Andy Griffith, David Stick, Edward Greene, George Crocker, Ray White, Jack Adams and Martin Kellogg to support local needs in Dare County and the Outer Banks communities from Corolla to Ocracoke.

Tuesday’s meeting and luncheon at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head was the first for the foundation since prior to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, with more than 175 in attendance.

Executive Director Chris Sawin highlighted 2022’s accomplishments for the foundation, with the establishment of 88 new funds, total donor gifts topping $1.5 million and grant and scholarship awards of $957,000.

“Between our community enrichment grant program and our donor-advised fund grants, we gave out over $600,000 last year,” Sawin said.

While noting that 2021 was a record year for the trusts that fund the foundation’s awards, Sawin said last year wasn’t as prosperous. But he shared that they are still in a strong position thanks to their holding company.

“Fortunately for us, the Trust Company of the South outperformed its benchmark by 1.5 percent in 2022,” Sawin said. “In general, they’ve outperformed our peer group of similar sized organizations in a one-year timeframe, a three-year timeframe, a five-year timeframe and a ten-year timeframe.

“Our goal is to invest funds for our donors for perpetual use, its maybe different than your personal portfolios,” Sawin said. “Because of that we have a long-term strategy that will serve us well.”

Sawin noted the volatility to start 2023, but that OBCF donor funds are in good hands with Trust Fund of the South and the Board of Directors managing the future of the foundation.

He also explained how the Hurricane Dorian-inspired Rapid Response Grant, which raised $1.5 million from around the world in the wake of the record-breaking storm, allowed the community foundation to also respond to the challenges faced by the Outer Banks and its residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grants Committee member Noel Preston announced the foundation has created the 40th Anniversary Impact Grant, its largest one-time grant ever, with $40,000 designated to a nonprofit focusing on mental health and substance abuse, ideally a youth program.

Preston said the proposal will need to be sustainable, with the foundation’s grant used as seed money, while the grantee can feature a collaboration with other entities, and either be an existing program or a new one.

The Board of Directors for 2023 was elected during the meeting: Cathy Baldwin, Jeff Dowdy, Frank Hester, Tess Judge, Robin Mann, Ronnie Sloan, and Sarah Spencer as new members and Ray Meiggs, Packy Regan and Ruth Toth as renewing members.

Theatre of Dare and the Saving Lives Task Force gave impact reports to thank the foundation’s donors for their contributions in 2022.

The foundation awarded the first Bob Muller Award for Volunteerism to Ben Wiener, Video Producer for Twiddy and Company and WOBX, for his video celebrating the foundation’s 40-year history.

Ben Wiener, Video Producer for Twiddy and Company and WOBX, accepts the Bob Muller Volunteerism Award. [Sam Walker photo]
“It was an honor to work with all the interviewees, all of you did a wonderful job. Chris Sawin, MaryAnn Toboz, and Nandy Stuart, thank you for being with me behind the scenes,” Wiener said.

“While money helps to repair a community after a disaster, it cant pick up the phone to organize a team of people or clean up the pieces of a home that was destroyed. Maybe all someone needs is a hug and some encouraging words,” Wiener said. “The strongest asset of the Outer Banks Community Foundation is, and always will be, the people. And to be a small part of that is an honor.”

Jane Webster, a departing member of the OBCF Board of Directors, was honored with the Champion Award following her long-standing membership and work on the foundation’s and other nonprofit boards.

Jane Webster, left, was given the Champions Award by surprise presenter Helen Ford, a longtime friend of Webster’s.

“I can tell you my biggest reward from beginning to end was learning about all of the nonprofits that we have here, on the Outer Banks, the large ones, the small ones, the stalwarts, the new ones, and how everybody rolls their sleeves up to work very, very hard to make this place a loving, giving place to live,” Webster said.

“I want you to know that when you see your reflection in the mirror, or as you’re passing by a store window, I want you to know that you all are champions. It’s not just me. You all are champions,” Webster said.

Outgoing Chair of the Board Clark Twiddy was also honored by the foundation with a painting by the late Jim Wood, Dare County’s first trust officer and 2013 Champions Award recipient, who Sawin said steered a number of important donations to OBCF in the 1990s and 2000s.

New board chair Jean-Louise Dixon closed the meeting with a charge for the coming year.

“In 1982, they started with nothing. But they had a vision. And since that beginning, there have been more than 200 funds established by all sorts of people for all sorts of purposes,” Dixon said. “How proud of this they must be. How visionary.”

“The problems, the needs we serve, the reasons those six got together in 1982 have not been solved yet,” Dixon said. “Talented kids who need help to pay their tuition. Animals that need protection. Artists that need to create their art need help to create their art, those suffering and those affected by substance abuse, addressing the unique challenges of our environment, preserving our history, our buildings, our stories, really distill it all down.”

“We’re helping people. And thanks to the foresight and generosity of those six, and the generosity and efforts, the sweat and the blood and the grind from the givers, all of you in this room, and so so many others, the givers of the Outer Banks, we will have the needs, the abilities, and the place to continue to expand that work,” Dixon said.

“Now we’re going to purchase a building that will serve the purposes of the Community Foundation, which is no longer an acorn,” Dixon said. “It is a huge leap. And this decision has not been made lightly.”

“Imagine what we can do for the people that will be standing here 40 years from now,” Dixon said.

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