Community Foundation 40th Birthday Backyard Bash on Oct. 15 Celebrates Community Philanthropy

The Outer Banks Community Foundation invites the public to its 40th Birthday Backyard Bash at the Outer Banks Brewing Station on Saturday, October 15 from 2 – 6 pm. The free event will feature live music, birthday cake, and a $4,000 grant to be awarded to one local charity by event-goers. This community grant kicks off a new partnership with Charitocracy OBX, our new, local, online giving circle, where donors pool their contributions, nominate, and vote for local nonprofits to receive grants each month.

“Our Community Foundation was built on a model of many people making modest contributions, for the betterment of the entire community,” said President and CEO Chris Sawin. “As we reflect on 40 years of giving, we are humbled by the efforts of others and inspired to do our part to position this extraordinary organization into its next 40 years of service. We are very pleased to mark this auspicious occasion by launching a new giving platform the whole community can be involved in, starting at just $1 a month.”

The Outer Banks Community Foundation was the brainchild of historian David Stick, who recognized the value of establishing a charitable foundation to address the unmet needs of the Outer Banks. He looked at what other communities had done, formulated a concept, and gathered together George Crocker, Eddie Greene, and Andy Griffith to share his ideas for creating a community foundation for the Outer Banks. They then brought in local leaders in banking (Ray White), law (Martin Kellogg), and finance (Jack Adams), formed a board and organization structure and had their first official meeting on November 16, 1982.

Forty years later, the Community Foundation has grown thanks to the dedication of more than 70 community leaders who have served on the board of directors, and thousands of generous donors who love the Outer Banks. The five pillars of service to the community are scholarships, grants, disaster relief, nonprofit support, and fund stewardship. Individuals, families, and nonprofits have created more than 200 funds, each a perpetual endowment that will give back through local charities for generations to come. To date, more than $10 million in grants and $2 million in scholarships have been awarded, impacting tens of thousands of individuals and families in Dare County and on Outer Banks beaches from Corolla to Ocracoke.

Every attendee at the Backyard Bash will have the opportunity to help choose a new $4,000 grant recipient, commemorating the Community Foundation’s 40th anniversary. “To everyone on the Outer Banks, please join us to celebrate this milestone, participate in the grantmaking process, and blow out the candles,” said Sawin.

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Lifting Families Out of the Harm’s Way on Hatteras

Partners, donations, and boots on the ground create a firm foundation for the Allender’s—and more resiliency for our Outer Banks.

We believe that repetitive personal property losses in low-lying areas can be mitigated by raising more homes on stilts, a time-honored Outer Banks practice. We worked with Trusted Partners—Ocracoke Interfaith Relief and Recovery Team, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, and Interfaith Community Outreach, with help from generous Disaster Relief Fund donors, outside funders and volunteers, and county agencies, to help families face future with more safety and security, and fewer losses and displacements.

Some days will just stand out. For Sarah, Myles, and Ariel Allender, September 5, 2019 will live in their memories as the day that Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the southern Outer Banks and drove water up their street and into their home.

Sarah Allender lives with her two children, Myles (10) and Ariel (9) in Frisco. Her family has called southern Hatteras Island ‘home’ for decades—in fact, their family ancestry can be traced back for five generations on the island, to the 1800’s.

“My mom lives right down the street from me; an aunt and uncle are nearby, and my grandparents on both sides are here, too,” said Sarah.

When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, the family’s mobile home was damaged by sound-side storm surge. The cinderblock foundation withstood the flooding, but there was interior damage. The family knew they were at risk for future storms.

Fast-forward a few years, when Hurricane Dorian’s predicted trajectory had everyone on edge, in the hours leading up to its landfall.

“A friend at the top of our street let us stay with him,” recalled Sarah. “The water came up fast…there was several feet of storm surge, the most we’d ever seen. Our home was flooded with five inches of water.”

“We lost our A/C unit, all our flooring, all the lower cabinets in the kitchen, furniture…the walls were damaged, and worst of all, mold quickly covered everything,” Sarah said. “It was just awful. We had to move to my mom’s house, because we had nowhere else to stay.”

Fortunately, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men (CHUMM) are on the island. This agency has served Hatteras Island for 43 years, providing a host of compassionate services, from running a food pantry to comprehensive help after disasters. “We’re not all men, we’re not all Methodist, and we don’t all live here,” said Dennis Carroll, CHUMM Director. “What we are is a group of dedicated volunteers whose main mission is to care for our islanders and for one another, without stipulation or discrimination.”

What CHUMM leaders found was that coordinating all the volunteers who showed up to help would prove to be a big task, but was, in the end, a good problem to have. “Even a surf club from down south came,” said Dennis.

Dare County Social Services helped the family detail the extent of the damage and secure assistance (they screened and prioritized need for all families applying for help on the island). CHUMM treated Sarah’s home for mold and further assessed the storm’s impacts and what help they could provide.

In the meantime, volunteers streamed south down Highway 12—the Baptist Men, other Methodist groups, Hatteras Island CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)—were particularly helpful, Dennis recalled. Volunteers helped move out the ruined items and furnishings, and demo’d the flooring, wet sheetrock, and insulation. By Thanksgiving, the mobile home was ready for renovations—but it would be several weeks before the next phase could begin. That’s because there were other families also needing longer-term help, and most of the outside volunteers were gone, or helping on Ocracoke. For a time, CHUMM volunteers were staging and executing work on many renovation projects, as quickly as they could.

“Going by our home was traumatic for the kids and me at first,” said Sarah. “It was just so sad to not be in our home, and to have so many of our personal possessions gone forever.”


“But over time,” she continued, “we were encouraged by all of daily activity—like the group of older ladies working with CHUMM under our trailer, tearing out insulation. And so many other helpers, too. Our sadness was replaced with gratitude for these strangers who cared about us and who gave us so much.”

CHUMM found temporary housing for the family in Avon, thanks to a friend at St. John United Methodist Church.

CHUMM volunteers helped Sarah apply for grants that would eventually pay to replace the flooring, roof, and A/C unit. Knights of Columbus, for instance, asked CHUMM to identify households with young children for their grants; the Allender’s were one of the families selected. Community Foundation grants to CHUMM supplemented other donations to pay for a new roof and make other repairs. CHUMM volunteers did a great deal of the actual labor. Sarah and her mom pitched in with repairs and painting where they could—they even painted the home’s exterior a beautiful sky blue. But none of it was easy. All the renovations happened in early 2020. Finally, the Allender’s home was ready for the last step of the rebuild—raising it up on pilings, so it would be out of harm’s way in future severe weather events.

At the same time all this work was going on, CHUMM members were considering ways they might be more proactive in resiliency projects, so that repetitive loss properties were better able to withstand the worst storms. They had helped several homeowners apply for FEMA grants to raise homes; manufactured homes, however, such as the Allender’s, did not qualify. CHUMM presented the idea of raising manufactured homes onto pilings to your Community Foundation. The board agreed this was an urgent need, and disaster relief funds were made available to raise twelve homes, including Sarah’s. The project was administered under a grant from the American Red Cross to Outer Banks Community Foundation. Local rebuild efforts were supplemented by some visiting volunteer groups, but most of the rebuild volunteers were focused on Ocracoke.

“CHUMM was blessed by a wonderful group from the Salem Church in Fredrick, MD who came for a week during the Dorian Rebuild,” said Dennis Carroll. “Sarah’s home was which we teamed up on. We made many friends during that long week. We still keep in touch.”

“We were blessed with other off-island friends, as well,” continued Dennis, “including volunteers we worked with on Ocracoke and Hyde County. Outside help on Hatteras Island was most intense immediately after the storm, and not during the rebuild phase. Ocracoke Island had the more urgent, ongoing volunteer needs.

“There was one CHUMM volunteer who worked morning, noon, and night here,” recalled Sarah, with a little bit of disbelief. “He parked his camper right on the property…he was out working after dark with a headlamp.”

“That’s Gil Brown, a retired NCDOT engineer and a former Frisco resident, who lives near family in Raleigh,” related Dennis. “He is always ‘on call.’ He comes with his camper, towing a tool trailer, and he stays until the work is done.”

Gil told Sarah, “I just want to see you and your kids back in your home, as soon as possible.”

“Being back in our new, improved home is security,” said Sarah. “It’s what I’ve wanted forever—to be able to be here for my family, when they need me, and not to have to worry for my safety or that of my children. It’s a lifelong blessing; there is no way in the world I could have ever done this by myself.”

“We’re all so grateful to everyone who made this miracle happen for me and my family,” she said.

We never know exactly where a storm will strike; this story is one of hundreds of Dorian stories, and it could have happened to any one of us. Thank goodness for the thousands and thousands of donations, totaling more than $1.6 million, that poured into the Disaster Relief Fund in fall and winter of 2019.

The Disaster Relief Funds is a critical source of support for the Outer Banks Community Foundation, and, in turn, for Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men and the people they help. The Community Foundation manages the Disaster Relief Fund for the Outer Banks, and it stands 100% at the ready for future disasters.

You can help us prepare for future storms by making a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund today. Thank you.

Disaster Relief Equipment & Supplies Replacement Grant Opportunity

Announcement of a grant opportunity: Replacement of Equipment and Supplies used in Hurricane Dorian.

Purpose: The Outer Banks Community Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations that were involved in the relief and recovery operations after Hurricane Dorian. These organizations may apply for funding to replace equipment and supplies used in operations following Hurricane Dorian. This grant is funded by the American Red Cross.

How to Apply: Organizations may apply by sending an email to Bob Muller, Disaster Relief Coordinator at The email or attached documents should explain the organization’s activities during Hurricane Dorian, the amount requested, and the equipment to be purchased with the grant. Applications must be received by 5:00 pm Thursday, July 8, 2021.

Eligible Organizations: Any nonprofit organization serving the Outer Banks is eligible to apply — including those organizations that have an active Community Enrichment or Rapid Response Grant with the Community Foundation. Local organizations may be given priority for funding.

Schools and government agencies may be eligible to apply, if it is demonstrated that financial support is not available from other sources.

Churches and faith-based organizations are eligible to apply for projects assisting the wider community (i.e., not just members of their own faith or congregation), and if their outreach does not include the promotion of religious beliefs.

Eligible Projects and Grant Expenses: Grants will be awarded for the purchase of supplies and equipment that replace supplies and equipment used during Hurricane Dorian. Examples of eligible items include gloves, rubber boots, PPE, cleaning buckets, bleach, wet/dry shop vac, step ladders, shovels, sledge hammers, crow bars and other necessary equipment and supplies.

Operating, overhead, and indirect costs are not eligible for grant funding.

Grants will be paid on a reimbursement basis for actual costs incurred. Grant expenses must be substantiated by third-party documentation (e.g., receipts, statements, invoices). These documents should be generated from your vendor, not from your organization.

The Community Foundation does not reimburse for sales tax. Sales tax refunds must be requested from the NC Dept. of Revenue.

Funding decisions will be made by Thursday, July 15, 2021. Requests for reimbursements must be received by Friday, August 20, 2021.

Additional Information: If you have questions or want more information please call or email Bob Muller, Disaster Relief Coordinator, at or 252-207-5287.


We’re Going to Get There: The Road to Recovery from Dorian, Part 2

We’re Going to Get There — The Road to Recovery from Dorian   Part Two of a Two-Part Series, One Year After the Hurricane

by Kip Tabb

The flood waters of Hurricane Dorian receded quickly, but three inches or three feet in a home makes little difference. Everything has to go. All the furniture and appliances, even the drywall has to be stripped to the studs; books, photos, memories of years gone by — all of it is piled by the side of the road, waiting to be scooped up and hauled to some dump site or landfill.

On the streets and in the homes, there is the ever-present odor of mildew. The interior of a flooded house, with only the earth tones of the wooden frame and studs to capture the light, has a dull, gray look to it, even on a sunny day. The home will have to be rewired, so there are no lights to illuminate the interior, no fans to move the still air. Just an empty shell of a building.

In the aftermath of Dorian, that was the reality that confronted 35–40% of the residents of Ocracoke, as well as people on the southern end of Hatteras Island in Hatteras Village, Frisco, and Buxton.

The recovery has been difficult and is on-going on both islands. But the circumstances are different between the two places.

For almost three months after Dorian, access to Ocracoke was severely restricted, with entry limited to residents, aid workers, an occasional reporter, and eventually other property owners. On Hatteras Island, where the transportation network was intact, access was not a problem, and the clean-up and recovery moved far more quickly.

An Innovative Solution on Hatteras Island

But Hatteras Island had other challenges. On Hatteras Island, especially on the sound side, a number of residents live in mobile homes. Some have been in place for 30 or 40 years.

None of them were designed to withstand a seven-foot storm surge. And many of these homes have been flooded again and again, with families experiencing devastating losses as each hurricane hits.

Unlike traditional houses, however, a mobile home does not qualify for homeowner’s insurance.

“The mobile homes, because they’re personal property, they don’t qualify as a house,” Dare County Commissioner for Hatteras Island Danny Couch said. Couch also is a board member of the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men (CHUMM).

To help mobile home owners, CHUMM came up with an innovative solution: elevate the homes.

“The [Outer Banks] Community Foundation gave us a grant. It allowed us to raise a home eleven feet in the air. It was such a success that the County and the electric co-op [Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative] started working with us,” Couch said.

Dennis Carroll, the Director of CHUMM, has a background in construction, and he explained that raising a home is a complicated process that requires considerable expertise.

“They’re not simple, because in order to do these correctly, you have to take out a permit. You have to have a stamped foundation plan, elevation certificates, and so forth,” he said.

“We are planning to do about a dozen of those,” Carroll added.

The work is complex — coordinating the permits, finding companies to drive the piles and raise the homes, arranging the funding, interviewing and qualifying families to verify financial need, and many other details. In spite of the complexity, CHUMM handles all of it on a volunteer basis. Yet, as Couch notes, there is payment for the effort.

“You know, the fact that you’re actually doing something good. Something like this can restore your faith in humanity, when somebody’s wiping the tears out of their eyes, and thanking you for doing something that they couldn’t have done on their own. You can’t pay for that kind of reward.”

Ocracoke — What Coastal Resilience Will Look Like

“There’s no doubt that that the look of Ocracoke is going to change,” said Tom Pahl, Hyde County Commissioner for Ocracoke. “I mean, the look of Ocracoke is historic homes, and you raise it six feet off the ground, it changes the look. It changes the character. It might not be such that people who aren’t here regularly would notice, but I think people who are regular visitors would notice the difference.”

Pahl is also the owner of Landmark Building and Design, and his company has already raised a number of houses on Ocracoke, as well as the Ocracoke United Methodist Church, which was also damaged by flood waters.

For Pahl, raising houses seven to nine feet above sea level must be done to protect the village from the next Dorian.

“The work that we are doing is good work,” he said. “It’s work that’s moving toward the resilience that we need to build out. Everything that we’re doing is all about resilience.”

Pahl estimates that on average it costs $70,000 to raise a house and put it on pilings, a cost that is not completely covered by flood insurance. Community Foundation grants have helped in some cases.

Amy Howard is raising her home, although she is not using Community Foundation funds. A direct descendent of one of the island’s first residents, William Howard (who was Blackbeard’s purser), her home is next to her family’s shop, the Village Craftsman. The house is one of a number of houses resting on pilings, waiting for the next steps to create a habitable home.

“We’re shooting for December, but we don’t know,” Howard’s husband, David Tweedie, said.

Howard, though, sees herself as one of the lucky ones. Her father’s house was not damaged, and she, David, and their son have a place to stay.

“We have a house we can live in with my dad, so we’re lucky in that,” she said. “It’s not our normal living arrangement, but it’s a house we’re familiar with, and we’ve got everything you need.”

For other Ocracoke residents, however, home at the moment is a FEMA trailer. In February, the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management gave Hyde County a $600,000 grant to purchase 35 FEMA travel-trailers to use as temporary housing. The trailers were originally part of the response to Hurricane Florence in 2018. The trailers provide temporary housing for residents waiting for their homes to be rebuilt or made habitable again.

The Community Foundation provided funds for placement, anchoring, electric, water, gas, and septic system hook-ups for each of these trailers.

The trailers are an important if imperfect solution, allowing residents to remain on the island, in their community, while their homes are repaired. But when Hurricane Isaias threatened Ocracoke, the imperfections of the solution became apparent.

“The agreement is that we can hook those out, but we’re not putting them above the flood elevation as temporary emergency housing,” Pahl said. “In lieu of elevating them to meet the flood regulation, we’re requiring that the people who live in those trailers vacate the trailer when there’s an evacuation.”

Making landfall to the south of the Outer Banks, Isaias did no damage at all in Ocracoke. However, early storm tracks brought the storm dangerously close to the island, and an evacuation was ordered.

“It’s just a complete disruption of people’s lives,” Pahl said, adding, “It would be irresponsible of us to leave people in a County-owned trailer. We have to anticipate that they’ll be flooded, and we can’t do that.”

The evacuation, as he explained, was not just the families living in the trailers. The trailers also had to be evacuated. “We had to have special ferry runs that ran after regular hours. They were departing at 10 o’clock p.m. and arriving on the mainland after midnight. And we can only put, what, six or eight trailers on a ferry at a time, so it took several [trips].”

The trailers are back on Ocracoke now, the families that need them once again on the island.

COVID — The Second Disaster

The recovery itself continues, although there have been hurdles to cross to bring Ocracoke all the way back.

COVID-19 has complicated everything, from jobs, to insurance payments, to housing for volunteers.

Amy Howard and David Tweedie have found that insurance payments for their home repairs have slowed dramatically, as insurance and other workers face delays and challenges in working from home.

“Those have slowed down to a quarter of the time,” he said. “I understand the situation that everybody’s in… and in the meantime we’ve got to pay the guy [who did the work].”

For Pastor Ivey Belch of the Ocracoke Lifesaving Church, the pandemic was a second disaster and has impacted the pace of recovery. There are not enough skilled craftsmen living in the village to move repairs forward quickly, and finding a place for off-island workers to stay has been a problem from the beginning.

“COVID plays into everything now,” he said. “That plays kind of as the second disaster… The relief effort is not close to being done. For most people, you probably got about another year at least.”

Nonetheless, Pastor Belch does feel that the village has made remarkable progress.

“The smaller community tends to pull together and move ahead a little bit quicker than the norm,” he said.

He also pointed to Ocracoke’s tourism-based economy and the need to be ready for the summer season, which has motivated many folks to rebuild even faster.

The community was as ready as it could be when summer came. The streets have been filled with visitors. And the fall shoulder season looks to be as good, if not better, than any in recent memory. But it has come at a cost.

Earle Irwin is a psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialist. After Dorian, a grant from the Outer Banks Community Foundation and the Beazley Foundation brought her to Ocracoke to work with village residents.

What she found was a close-knit community in pain.

“You’re expecting to see the full range of symptoms related to post traumatic stress syndrome,” she said.

But at first, there was little evidence of that. Much of that she attributes to the supportive nature of the community.

“Ocracoke has that culture of being fiercely independent and not looking to the outside for help. Really trying to take care of their own,” she said.

Yet as the impact of COVID-19 took hold, Irwin saw a change.

“When COVID restrictions hit, that’s when the anxiety really started showing up, because people weren’t able to be in community in the way that they had. And I think that is when people started realizing that they weren’t as far past the hurricane trauma that they had been hoping they were.”

In addition to helping residents cope with the economic and traumatic losses of the pandemic and the hurricane, Irwin has worked to help people understand that, under the circumstances, asking for help is ok. The close-knit community, which on the one hand was a great source of support for residents, could also make people apprehensive about disclosing personal requests for help to their neighbors.

Because caseworkers on Ocracoke were local residents themselves, Irwin had to reassure residents that even though they may know the caseworker personally, that there would be no discussion of their circumstances with anyone else.

“You might know her grandma, but it’s okay, she’s not going be calling anybody,” Irwin said. “What the two of you talk about… it’s not going to go any farther.”

Ultimately she found that her involvement with the Ocracoke community was personally and professionally rewarding.

“It was fun work to help people feel comfortable,” Irwin said. “The caseworkers did a tremendous job. It was a great experience.”

The work in Ocracoke is not done. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has volunteer groups in the process of rebuilding seven more homes for families, and hopes to complete ten to twenty more in the next several months. A grant from the Community Foundation is supplying building materials for these home repairs, and paying for specialty work, like HVAC installation, when volunteer labor can’t be used.

“Disaster recovery is a long road, especially after a hurricane of the magnitude of Dorian,” said Lorelei Costa, the Executive Director of the Outer Banks Community Foundation. “But we’re not going anywhere. We are still on Ocracoke, and Hatteras, helping our community rebuild homes. Rebuild lives.”

Postscript: In October 2020, Twiddy and Co. created a video about your Community Foundation’s response to Dorian, as told through the story of one young Ocracoke couple: