Outer Banks Legacy—Looking Back on 40 Years with Frank and Lynda Hester

L-R Frank and Lynda on their wedding day, 7-31-82, Naomi Collins Hester, Dare Co. Dept. of Education, Naomi with first grandchild, Raechel. Photos courtesy of the Hester family.


Frank and Lynda Hester had a lot to reflect on and celebrate this month, and as part of our family, we’re celebrating with them as we mark milestones during our Community Foundation’s 40th Anniversary year.

Frank’s mom, Naomi Collins Hester, would have been 84 this July 28. She spent her lifetime giving to others, first as a teacher at Manteo High School and at Head Start. She co-founded Monday Night Alive, a still-thriving, Roanoke Island after-school program that mentors school-age youth. She was a social worker for older adults, and she worked at Dare County Department of Education’s central office for many years, until retirement. She volunteered as a Sunday School teacher, was a member of the Echoes of Heritage, and served on the boards of dozens of organizations, including Children and Youth Partnership, Health and Human Services, and East Carolina Bank.

Before Naomi passed away in 2009, her family created the Hester Family Legacy Fund in 2008 in her honor. “It was a way to keep her memory alive and also to continue to reach out and help people without looking for anything in return,” her son Frank said.

Contributions by family and friends helped the fund quickly grow. The very next year, the Hester family began recommending grants to veterans at risk, children at risk, and older adults at risk. So far, thanks to the power of endowments, more than $10,000 in grants have been awarded to local charities that work with children, veterans, and older adults, and there is more than $14,000 in this fund—and growing.

40 years ago, Naomi was 44, in the prime of her life, working each day for brighter futures in our community. Forty years ago, Frank and Lynda Hester were getting married on a little beach in Hawaii; they’re celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on July 31st. Forty years ago, David Stick was dialing up friends with an idea to create a Community Foundation for the Outer Banks.

We are so fortunate here to count compassionate, action-oriented families like the Hester’s as neighbors and friends. We’re particularly honored at our Community Foundation to have Lynda Hester’s leadership as our board’s current Secretary.

We also are enormously grateful that there is this place on the Outer Banks where people like Naomi can be honored, and where legacies like hers can continue to create good in our community forever. During a time where many are divided, Frank remembered a quote his mother used to say, “We may not always see eye to eye, but I hope we can see heart to heart.” We are forever grateful to our founders and early leaders for having the vision and fortitude to establish this Community Foundation, 40 years ago.

Outer Banks Road to Recovery Fund Created

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is pleased to announce that the Outer Banks Road to Recovery Fund has been established by an anonymous donor. The endowed fund will be maintained to award grants to nonprofits that provide support to Outer Banks residents on their journeys to recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. The fund will advance harm reduction efforts, connect more people to care, and increase public awareness. As with all endowed funds, it is structured to be a permanent community resource for generations to come.

“This new fund is such an important gift to our community,” said Community Foundation CEO Chris Sawin. “Every family on the Outer Banks has been impacted by addiction. Our job is to grow this fund with support of our entire community, and to provide funding for new solutions to the tragic crisis of addiction.”

The donor’s passion to create the fund comes from personal experiences in his own family. It is no secret that drug and alcohol addiction disrupts lives, often tragically, and touches virtually every community in the US. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 nearly 92,000 people in America died from drug overdoses, a 31% increase from 2019. The CDC also reports that alcohol abuse costs the US several billion dollars each year due to motor vehicle crashes, court costs, health expenses, property damages, and lost worker productivity. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2020, over nine North Carolinians died each day from a drug overdose.

“Our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment further illustrates the impact substance use continues to have on our community,” said Saving Lives Task Force Co-Chairs Roxana Ballinger and Wally Overman. “In fact, 14.5% of community survey respondents identified substance misuse and recovery support services as being in need of improvement and 42% said it is a health behavior that residents need more information about in Dare County.”

The fund’s creator hopes that donors will be inspired to contribute to the Outer Banks Road to Recovery Fund, in memory of a loved one, or to help someone they may never know. Contributions can be made online at www.obcf.org/donate or by sending a check to OBCF, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949.

$10,000 Grant Awarded from SAGA Donor-Advised Fund to Water’s Edge Village School in Corolla

WEVS students are flanked by (L-R) WEVS Board Treasurer Bryan Daggett, WEVS Board President Meghan Agresto, and Community Foundation Board Member Ray Meiggs; (center) Shweta Gupta of Saga Community Focus; and (right) WEVS School Director Sylvia Wolff.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation and Water’s Edge Village School (WEVS) are pleased to announce a new grant award of $10,000 from the SAGA Endowment Fund, as part of SAGA’s Community Focus program. The donation supports the WEVS Capital Campaign to build an additional schoolhouse adjacent to its current location in historic Corolla Village.

Waters Edge Village School is a tuition-free, NC charter school guided by a mission to incorporate whole child development, with an emphasis on project-based, hands-on learning. The school serves 44 students in grades K – 8 and has a waiting list of more than two dozen students.

“It is a privilege to invest in the lives and education of local children by offering a donation toward the expansion of the new academic building for Water’s Edge Village School in Corolla,” said Sumit Gupta, President of SAGA Community Focus, the charitable program of SAGA Realty and Construction. “Contributing to and helping our community grow is of utmost importance to SAGA Community Focus and we are honored to be part of this project.”

“Donors like Saga Community Focus are behind all of the grants and scholarships we administer,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawn. “Donor-advised funds allow donors to select which grants are awarded from fund assets each year, and have contributed more than $1.4 million, in nearly 1,000 individual grants, since 1997.”

Water’s Edge Village School is raising 100% of its costs to expand, and is looking to the community for help, because by state law, state and local governments may not contribute capital to charter schools. The new school building will accommodate current needs and future growth by providing three additional classrooms, a community room, a resource room, and a teacher’s office.

Additional contributions to the school’s capital campaign may be made by mailing payments to PO Box 215, Corolla, NC, 27927, or online at watersedgevillageschool.com.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization that connects people who care with causes that matter. Based in a historic flat top cottage in Southern Shores, the Community Foundation manages $25 million across more than 200 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards grants to nonprofits, manages more than 60 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

NC Symphony Music Grant for Dare Students

We are proud to support the NC Symphony Society with a $7,500 grant in 2022 to give Dare County students their first orchestral performance since COVID.

“Music is one of the primary ways we learn about ourselves, others, actions and consequences, and traditions and beliefs. It is one of the fundamental ways human beings create and communicate meaning,” stated the NC Department of Public Instruction. And, according to the National Association of Music Education, music is critical to student success in schools. Students involved in music are more engaged in school and have higher SAT scores. They are also cited as being more attached to their communities.

Hundreds of local students attended multiple performances on April 25th to hear compositions by classical artists such as Mozart and Beethoven.

“Any time we send an ensemble into the school, it is an exciting and rewarding experience for both musicians and students,” said Jason Spencer, NC Symphony Society’s Director of Education. “After more than two years of virtual concerts and learning, these in-person concerts have become even more meaningful. For some of these students, this was not only the first assembly in two years, but the first assembly they had ever attended! You could feel the energy and excitement in the audience, and the musicians certainly fed off the students’ enthusiasm during each program. We are incredibly grateful to the Outer Banks Community Foundation for their support in making the return to in-person concerts possible.”

Community Foundation Awards $80,948 in Grants to Four Nonprofits

From Theatre of Dare’s 2020 production of “Mame.”

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has awarded four Community Enrichment grants to address a variety of needs across the Outer Banks.

Theatre of Dare was awarded a $20,000 grant to pay for renovations and purchase technology and storage equipment at their new, long-term home in Kitty Hawk. Now in its 32nd season, the group offers full-scale theater productions each year, summer theater camps and shows for children, and a Monday night comedy club for adults. “Our plan is to expand from just performances to providing camps and classes for children, booking concerts, and hosting events,” said Theatre of Dare Business Director Kelsey Thompson. “We have an amazing group of artists and volunteers, but it takes money, too. The Community Foundation grant award means we will be able to offer a larger variety of performing arts experiences to the community, and we could not be more grateful.”

Outer Banks Dare Challenge was awarded a $30,000 grant for its new facility in Wanchese that will triple its capacity for housing individuals in its substance abuse treatment program. In 2019 there were 19 drug-related deaths in Dare County; so far this year, there have been eight. Dare Challenge has a 15-year history of successfully treating men with substance abuse disorders. “Dare Challenge is a beacon for those who are struggling on the sea of addiction and looking for safe harbor,” said Dustin Daniels, Dare Challenge Executive Director. “Our expansion will enable more people to find freedom from their addictions.”

MANE & TAILL Therapeutic Horsemanship Academy was awarded a grant for $18,948 to support their program for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Grant funding will also help launch a new program to help at-risk youth learn life skills through working with horses and other animals. “Our new program for at-risk children offers a safe and challenging environment where change and growth can take place,” said MANE & TAILL Executive Director Samantha Iulo. “The planned activities will teach participants how to make empowered choices and will help them develop communication skills, greater empathy, and appropriate responses to peer pressure and other stressors.”

The Outer Banks Family YMCA was awarded a $12,000 grant for financial assistance to families in need with children wishing to attend summer camp. “We believe all children and teens should have the opportunity to participate in safe and fun summer programming that supports their learning and growth,” said Outer Banks Family YMCA Senior Program Director Sam Wills. “We are grateful for this grant that allows us to provide financial assistance for families in need this summer.”

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization that connects people who care with causes that matter. Based in a historic flat top cottage in Southern Shores, the Community Foundation manages $25 million across more than 200 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards grants to nonprofits, manages more than 60 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

Pauline Wright Endowment for Currituck Animal Shelter Helps 60 Dogs Rescued In Moyock

This is Lo, a happy hound looking for his fur-ever home. Currituck Animal Shelter staff help reconnect lost pets with their owners, arrange pet adoptions, educate the public on animal care, and provide a clean and healthy environment for pets in shelter.


It was on the cold winter night of January 29, 2022 when news broke out that the Currituck County Animal Shelter had seized and rescued more than 60 dogs in Moyock. It was the largest seizure in the shelter’s history. Many of the animals were malnourished, neglected, and in desperate need of medical attention. The sheer number of animals needing help was overwhelming and heartbreaking.

Through a grant from the Pauline Wright Endowment for the Currituck Animal Shelter and a generous donation from an anonymous donor, the Outer Banks Community Foundation was able to help. The Community Foundation’s funding of the shelter helped pay for emergency vet bills, food, and supplies that the shelter needed.

Pauline Wright loved animals; especially her sheltie, Draco. She loved helping people, too, and was an active participant in her husband’s medical practice in Jarvisburg, where she would go on calls and minister to people who were ill or had lost loved ones. She ran the kitchen for the Wright Emergency Clinic and Maternity Hospital. Her personal mission was to ‘make everyone smile,’ according to those who knew her.

The labs were all adopted or placed with rescue in roughly 30 days!” said Currituck Animal Services & Control Director Gina Maurer. “The donation from the Community Foundation helped with the daily supplies and needed vet care.”

To support Outer Banks Community Foundation please click here to donate today, or send a check to Outer Banks Community Foundation, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949. 

Local Philanthropist Establishes Endowments for Scholarships, Housing

Karen DelVacchio and Cookie, a poodle mix rescue dog that Karen adopted. According to Karen, “Cookie is a lovable little bundle of energy!”

Two new endowed funds that will support Outer Banks students and workers have been established by Nags Head realtor and philanthropist Karen DelVacchio. As with all endowed funds created at the Community Foundation, the Cookie Jar for Good Deeds Fund and the Helping Hand Cookie Jar Scholarship Fund are structured to be permanent sources of support, providing grants and scholarships in starting in 2023 and continuing for generations to come.

The new Cookie Jar for Good Deeds Fund is a Field of Interest fund that will award grants to nonprofit organizations that provide financial or housing support to individuals, with a preference for supporting employed individuals needing extra financial help for rent or mortgage payments.

The Helping Hand Cookie Jar Scholarship Fund will provide need-based scholarships to non-traditional students who are pursuing an education after one or more years in the workforce, post high school graduation.

“Not everyone knows what they will do right out of high school, or even after some college,” said Karen. “I created these funds for adults who want another shot at a career choice and because, due to our chronic worker housing shortage, businesses and workers are really struggling on our beaches.”

“We are thrilled that the two new funds Karen has established for the entire Outer Banks will address unmet needs in innovative ways,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin.

Endowment funds have been created over the years by individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and government agencies for causes they are passionate about. Funds can be created to memorialize loved ones, support a favorite issue or charity, provide scholarships, and more. The first step is to visit https://obcf.org/giving/create-a-fund/or call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839. The Community Foundation holds more than 200 endowed funds for the Outer Banks; anyone can donate to any of these existing funds online at https://www.obcf.org/donate.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization that connects people who care with causes that matter. Based in a historic flat top cottage in Southern Shores, the Community Foundation manages $25 million across more than 200 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards grants to nonprofits, manages more than 60 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

OBX History Weekend: Searchers for New Horizons

Willie Balderson, the Director of Living History and Historic Trades Interpretation for the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, gives a living-history performance on the first day of OBX History Weekend. He is portraying Anas Todkill, a Jamestown colonist who was sent out to search for Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony. Willie, as Todkill, explained life at Jamestown and his mission, revealing to the audience clues he discovered about the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

In late March, OBX History Weekend entertained local audiences with a free, interactive, public-oriented symposium titled Searchers of New Horizons.  The three-day event celebrated the inventors, dreamers and pioneers whose paths led them to the Outer Banks. Your Community Foundation was pleased to provide funding through a Community Enrichment grant that applied resources from endowments held here. The Aviation Education Fund for America, the Charles H. and Dorothy S. Luedemann Arts Fund, the Thomas and Annie Baum Memorial Fund, and the Community Fund all underwrote the grant that supported the Symposium.

We had a chance to catch up with lebame houston of Elizabeth R & Company, who produced the event with The First Colony Foundation and The National Park Service/Outer Banks Group, to learn about her perspective about the special, scholarly event.

“The primary strength of the symposium was the roster of pre-eminent presenters whose recent research, new discoveries, and challenging questions excited attendees,” said lebame.  “On Day One, the heretofore illusive Thomas Harriot came alive for the audience as researchers Dr. Robyn Arianrhod of Monash University, Dr. Robert Fox of Oxford University, Dr. Steven Clucas of Birbeck University, Dr. Karen Kupperman of New York University, and Dr. Karin Amundsen of the University of Southern California unraveled their findings about this early American pioneer.  Harriot was an Oxford graduate, astronomer, mathematician, navigator, naturalist, surveyor, and Roanoke colonist; he was also Sir Walter Raleigh’s right-hand man engaged in new world discoveries.”

“Dr. Gallay’s new research has resulted in a different view of Sir Walter Raleigh,” lebame said of the presentation by Dr. Alan Gallay of Texas Christian University.  “His concept of new world colonization clearly thrilled the North Carolinians in attendance.”

Day Two of the symposium featured nine 30 minute presentations and discussion panels focusing on the Carolina Algonquians and the fate of The Lost Colony. “Dr. Kim Sloan, the authority for colonist John White’s watercolors, excited the audience when she cast the gauntlet for more research focused on the so-called “Sloane Copies,” said lebame, “suggesting the possibility that these ‘copies’ could indeed be the John White originals.”

Legendary aviators headlined the third and final day of OBX History Weekend. Hosted at the Gazebo Theatre at Fort Raleigh, audiences enjoyed presentations on the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, and Francis Rogallo.

We extend heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the producers, presenters, participants, sponsors and funders who made OBX History Weekend a world-class historical symposium, exploring the centuries-long parade of searchers who have discovered secrets of the Outer Banks.

For more information about OBX History Weekend, visit https://www.firstcolonyfoundation.org/obx-history-weekend/. To make a contribution to any of the more than 200 funds held for the community at the Community Foundation, visit https://www.obcf.org/donate.

Community Foundation Awards $191,100 in Scholarships

2022 Community Foundation Scholarship Recipients. 1st row L-R: Ana Karen Alvarez-Isadoro, Emily Bayne, Jose Briones Avila, Ivy Cage, Chloe Clark, Versailles D’Alessio, Emma Del Monte 2nd row L-R: Isaac Drummond, Kirra Folb, Eric Fulcher, Sydney Guns, Kayla Hallac, Kate Hamilton, Jordan Holcomb 3rd row L-R: Isabella Lettieri, Grayson Lewis, Maggie McNinch, Clara Oden, Morgann Owens, Regan Parker, Jobell Porter 4th row L-R: Kathleen Quigley, Mya Salch, Maggie Sherman, Jackson Strange, Yoselyn Trejo-Gabriel, Hart Vandzura, Loxley Wayland

The Outer Banks Community Foundation awarded $191,100 in 76 scholarships to 56 students this spring, in a year of firsts for the Community Foundation’s expanding scholarship program.

This year, thirty-eight percent of graduation seniors receiving Community Foundation scholarships will be the first in their families to attend college. In addition, three newly-established scholarship programs have awarded their first scholarships to students who have completed two years of coursework at College of The Albemarle (COA) and are continuing their studies at four-year institutions. In total, seven scholarship awards were made in 2022 through new scholarship funds.

Scholarships were awarded to three COA students and 26 graduating seniors from Cape Hatteras Secondary School, Manteo High School, Currituck County High School, Ocracoke School, and First Flight High School. Of these students, 17 received awards that are renewable for up to four years of college. The Community Foundation also has renewed financial support to 26 current college students who earned multi-year scholarships.

Two new, renewable scholarship funds, the R. Wayne Gray Memorial Scholarship and the Hanft McDevitt Family Scholarship, plus an expansion of the renewable OBX Scholars Program, will help three COA graduates pursue four-year degrees this fall. Jeffrey Blake Gard is receiving the Hanft McDevitt Family Scholarship ($2,000 renewable) to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pursue a Physics bachelor’s in science degree. Isabella Lettieri is receiving the OBX Scholars COA Scholarship ($2,000 renewable) to attend school at East Carolina University. Lane Stevenson is receiving the R. Wayne Gray Memorial Scholarship ($1,200 renewable) to attend Florida Gulf Coast University and complete a double major of Accounting and Finance.

“We are thankful to all of our scholarship donors, and especially grateful that two families who recognize the value of the Dare Guarantee, establishing funds to support students who will continue their work toward bachelor’s degree or higher,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin. “We’re thrilled to see so many first-generation college students being helped, too. Finally, we have tremendous appreciation for those generous families who created enhanced scholarship funds that provide $20,000 or more each year in renewable scholarships, to support students throughout their college career.”

Seven enhanced scholarship funds accounted for $91,800 in new and renewing scholarships this year, five of which were awarded to newly-selected graduating seniors.

The Milton A. Jewell Academic Scholarship, a four-year, $24,000 renewable scholarship, was awarded to Maggie McNinch, a First Flight High School graduating senior. Maggie is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she plans to pursue a degree in Journalism.

The Jerry and Arlene Davis Scholarship, a four-year, $24,000 renewable scholarship, was awarded to Versailles D’Alessio, a First Flight High School graduating senior. Versailles will attend East Carolina University in the fall, where she plans to major in Psychology.

The Elizabeth and Wayne Evans Scholarship, a four-year, $20,000 renewable scholarship, was awarded to two students:

  • Ana Karen Alvarez-Isidoro, a Manteo High School senior, is the first her family to go to college. She will attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  • Mya Salch, a First Flight High School Senior, will study nursing at East Carolina University. Mya also is a first-generation college student.

The R. Stewart Couch Hatteras Island Scholarship, a one-time, $8,800 award, went to Jose Briones Avila of Cape Hatteras Secondary School. Jose plans to study Culinary Arts at Wake Tech Community College. Jose also is a first-generation college student.

For a full list of scholarship recipients, please visit www.obcf.org/scholarships/recent-recipients.

Scholarship funds have been generously donated by individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and government agencies to help local students pursue higher education. Any community member can establish a scholarship fund with the Community Foundation by calling 252-261-8839, or can donate to an existing fund online at www.obcf.org/donate.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization that connects people who care with causes that matter. Based in a historic flat top cottage in Southern Shores, the Community Foundation manages $25 million across more than 200 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards grants to nonprofits, manages more than 60 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

VRMA Stewart Couch Golf Tournament Grows Memorial Scholarship Fund

Doug Brindley (L) and Chris Sawin

Outer Banks Association of Realtors (OBAR) President and Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) member Doug Brindley recently delivered an $8,000 contribution to the Community Foundation from VRMA for the R. Stewart Couch Scholarship Fund. The donation was the result of proceeds from a 2021 golf tournament established in honor of Stewart Couch, a Hatteras Island native and a successful businessman, world traveler, and beloved community leader.

Brindley was instrumental in establishing the VRMA Stewart Couch Golf Tournament. The first of what will be an annual fundraising event was held last October at The Quarry Golf Club in San Antonio, TX, just ahead of the 2021 VRMA International Conference.

Stewart Couch was pioneer and trendsetter in the vacation rental industry. He grew a fledgling Hatteras Island Realty to a firm that managed nearly 600 homes and employed almost 200 people during the tourist season. He served as Director of VRMA and was a Founding Director of NC VRMA. Couch was 2004 President of Outer Banks Association of Realtors, and he was a passionate and lifelong champion of all things Hatteras Island. Stewart sadly lost his life in 2012 at age 62 while on a surf trip in Nicaragua.

“Stewart and I were good friends,” said Doug Brindley, OBAR’s 2022 President and Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales business owner. “When I mentioned we name the new VRMA tournament in his honor, that was it. Everyone there knows Stewart or knows his story. I knew if the tournament was in his honor, it would be a success.”

“We are honored to carry on a small part of Stewart’s great legacy through the memorial scholarship established in his name,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin. “His kindness and his love for the people of Hatteras Island will live on through the students helped by his scholarship fund each year.”