Bridging the gap
AHOSKIE – It’s all about people helping people, without regard to race, religion, or political affiliation.
Smiles were abundant here last week when officials with the Bertie Hertford Community Foundation held their annual grant reception in the Fellowship Hall of Ahoskie Baptist Church.
Four graduates of high schools in the Roanoke-Chowan area were the beneficiaries of scholarships offered through the Foundation by an endowment set up by the M.C. Ashe family of Northampton County, and from a fund set up in memory of the late Earl U. Capps Jr., an Ahoskie dentist.
Hertford County High School graduates Ta’Niya Banks ($1,000) and Je’Letha Porter ($1,500) along with recent Northampton County High School grad Makayla Hobbs ($3,000) earned the scholarships from the Ashe family. All three recipients plan to attend Winston-Salem State University .
The Capps Scholarship ($690) was presented to Bailey Vann, a 2015 graduate of Ridgecroft School. Vann plans to attend Appalachian State University.
Community Fund grants were presented to the Ahoskie Food Pantry and to the St. Thomas Church (of Windsor) Backpack Program. Each received $575.
Vicky Overman, representing the Ahoskie Food Pantry, said that organization serves over 1,000 families per year, giving them a five-day supply of food. Their needs, she said, are need based, not income based.
Dr. Karen Ray accepted the grant on behalf of St. Thomas. She said the Backpack Program serves youngsters who are part of the free lunch program in Bertie schools. The Backpack Program helps fill the nutritional needs of those children when they are not in school.
Grants were also presented from the Bertie-Hertford Women’s Fund. Penny Rose, a member of that group, said the organization is comprised of 30-plus local women who have pooled their money together in an effort to make a bigger impact on the needs of those in the local area.
“There are no membership rules; we need women of any age to join us to help us expand on what we can do here locally,” Rose said.
Women’s Fund grants were awarded to Pretty in Pink ($500) – an organization that assists women with breast cancer; the Roanoke-Chowan Christian Women’s Job Corps ($1,500) – a group that helps women in need with life skills and job skills – and $1,500 each to the Ahoskie Food Pantry (for its Powerpack Ministry, serving over 150 children in Ahoskie and Murfreesboro during the school year and the summer months), and the St. Thomas Church (of Windsor) Backpack Program.
The Bertie Hertford Community Foundation, which established its Community Fund to help support local charitable needs through annual grants, is an affiliate of the North Carolina Community Foundation (NCCF). The latter organization was represented last week by Natalie Jenkins Peel, Regional Associate of the NCCF’s Northeast office located in Elizabeth City, and David Ryan, CFO of the NCCF’s state office in Raleigh.
“When you have a chance to actually meet the recipients of these grants, and meet these generous individuals and families behind these grants and scholarships, it makes all that you do here locally that much better,” said Peel. “I thank the Board of Directors of the Bertie Hertford Community Foundation for the passion they have to help others.
Peel introduced those local Board members: Laura Beasley, President, John Tayloe, Vice President, Marti Tyler, Secretary and Treasurer, Austine Evans, Grants and Scholarship Chair, Carole Everett, Richard “Dickie” Hoggard, Lindsay Vaughan, Dr. Karen Ray, Penny Rose, Ron Wesson and John Davis.
“We are able to help people right here in Bertie and Hertford counties by making lasting contributions to permanent endowments,” Peel noted. “This board is passionate about helping to fill local needs.”
Peel added that the Bertie Hertford Community Foundation has developed and is actively participating in a strategic plan to make it more successful.
“They are an engaged and active board; they are becoming more effective grant makers, promoting philanthropy and, most importantly, they are community leaders,” Peel stressed. “I support the work they are doing.”
Peel also singled out the Bertie-Hertford Women’s Fund, saying they pool their resources together and assist women and children in need in the two counties.
“Your community is so fortunate to have such dedicated philanthropists,” Peel remarked.
Ryan joined the NCCF in 2014. He previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Attending these events is hands down the best part of my job; seeing first hand all the goodness that is being done,” said Ryan.
Although he lives in Raleigh, Ryan said he felt a personal connection to the Roanoke-Chowan area.
“I’ve lived in North Carolina for a long time; on my dad’s first visit to this state he was introduced to the peanuts that are grown in this part of the state,” Ryan remarked. “He’s hooked on those peanuts. So for Father’s Day and birthdays, he’s easy to buy for. All I do is go to the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh and purchase some Bertie County peanuts, put them in a box and mail them.”
On a NCCF note, Ryan said the organization received the largest single endowment in its history last year, one in excess of $21 million.
“You may ask how do we handle a 21 million dollar endowment…..the short answer is it’s handled just like any other endowment,” Ryan admitted. “Our mission is to fulfill the wishes of those who endow money. That mission doesn’t recognize the size of an endowment.”
Statewide, grants and scholarships awarded last year by the NCCF and its regional affiliates totaled over $13 million.
“We have a big responsibility to those who choose us to administer these endowed grants and scholarships,” he said. “The good part about being here today is to hear all the stories behind these worthwhile individuals and organizations benefitting from your generosity here in Bertie and Hertford counties,” Ryan concluded.
The NCCF is the single statewide community foundation serving North Carolina and has dispersed nearly $89 million in grants since its inception in 1988.
With more than $191 million in assets, the NCCF sustains 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, nonprofit organizations, institutions and scholarships. It partners with 60 affiliate foundations to provide local resource allocation and community assistance in 67 counties across the state.
For more information, visit nccommunityfoundation.org and Facebook or follow on LinkedIn and Twitter @NCCF.