Lunchtime Live Webinar on Giving October 27

With over 200 nonprofits serving the Outer Banks, it’s difficult sometimes to prioritize your giving and figure out where and how to invest your hard-earned dollars. We hear frequently from donors, businesses, and families who want to help our community, but don’t know where to start. This Tuesday, October 27, at 12:30 pm, join our Executive Director, Lorelei Costa, for a dynamic and fun Lunchtime Live webinar with the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. You’ll get practical and timely advice on how to focus your donations to make the best impact, whether you are planning your giving on behalf of your company, your family, your foundation, or just yourself. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

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:

We’re Going to Get There: One Year Later, the Road to Recovery from Dorian


We’re Going to Get There — The Road to Recovery from Dorian

Part One of a Two-Part Series, One Year After the Hurricane

by Kip Tabb

On a warm day in late August this year, Ocracoke looks much like it has for years. Traffic moves at a crawl through the village business district, the shops are full of people, restaurants are open, and golf carts and bikes seem the best way to get around.

“In general, it’s pretty brisk. And I’ve heard that from other people around the village as well. They’re feeling pretty good about the season,” Amy Howard, owner of the Village Craftsman, said. “All in all, that’s really good news.”

Yet Ocracoke is still a community on the mend from the devastation that Hurricane Dorian wreaked one year ago. Away from the main business district, among streets where only residents go, or along the quaint dirt roads that are still a part of the village, there is still a journey to be traveled.

“It’s just been really a real big challenge, so we’ve come a long way. We’re not fully back, but we’re going to get there,” Paige Bennett said. Bennett was one of a number of island residents who volunteered as caseworkers in the wake of Dorian to help her neighbors get the aid they needed.

On September 1, 2019 Hurricane Dorian made landfall at Elbow Cay in the Bahamas as a category five storm. For three days it lashed the island nation with sustained winds as strong as 185 mph, before beginning its trek to the north.

The path of the storm paralleled the coast, bypassing Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, finally making landfall on Hatteras Island at 8:35 in the morning on September 6 as a powerful category one hurricane.

As the storm exited over the ocean, it left unprecedented levels of damage in its wake, especially on Ocracoke and Hatteras. But, as is often the case in coastal communities, it was not the wind that did the damage; rather, it was the water, the storm surge that inundated the towns and communities.

And the storm surge was like nothing anyone in those communities had ever experienced — 7 feet, 4 inches in Ocracoke Village, flooding every street, every yard, every property. On Hatteras Island the US Coast Guard gauge recorded a storm surge of 7 feet.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation may have been the first relief agency to recognize the enormity of what was happening, establishing a relief fund before flood waters had even receded.

Lorelei Costa, Community Foundation Executive Director, said, “On Friday, September 6 when Hurricane Dorian was still blowing, I started getting news that Ocracoke had just been slammed and that it was under water. It became immediately clear that Ocracoke, which has always been a part of our service area, would need help of some sort. I talked to my board president, Scott Brown, and we decided to encourage donors to earmark gifts for Ocracoke or Dare County, or split it between the two.”

The response was overwhelming, ultimately raising over $1.5 million for Ocracoke and Dare County within a few months. The first and largest donor was TowneBank, contributing the lead gift of $150,000 on the very next day after the storm. Eventually more than 6,000 individuals, businesses, and other groups contributed to the cause.

From the beginning, the needs of the communities were extraordinary. On Hatteras Island homes were flooded and businesses damaged, but it was Ocracoke that took the full brunt of the storm.

In Ocracoke, homes that had stood for years were knocked off their foundations; almost every home, every structure had some form of water damage. Harrowing tales of people clambering out of windows to safety, or climbing on counters or beds to escape rising waters, were common.

Yet, no one lost their life.

“If we didn’t have anything else to be thankful for, but the lack of the loss of life, that in itself is enough,” Pastor Ivey Belch of the Ocracoke Lifesaving Church said.

Immediately after the storm, Pastor Belch was at the heart of the recovery process. His church’s Bread of Life Food Pantry has been a part of Ocracoke since 2017. Partially flooded by Dorian, the pantry moved temporarily to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Station, which became the hub of relief efforts and donated supplies.

Food, cleaning supplies, and household goods poured into Ocracoke as Dorian exited. But just getting the supplies to the island proved to be a logistical nightmare; the storm surge ripped great chunks of asphalt from the roadbed of NC 12 on the north end of the island. The road was impassable for weeks, and the Ocracoke/Hatteras ferry trip went from a one-hour trip to two-and-a-half hours. The Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries continued service, but a round trip now took five to six hours.

The immediate needs of the community quickly became apparent — estimates put the number of uninhabitable homes as high as 40% in Ocracoke Village. Even homes that did not have structural damage still had losses.

“It did not get into my living quarters,” Connie Leinbach, the editor of the Ocracoke Observer, said. “But…it was chest high downstairs. I had to replace my washer and dryer.”

Housing was not the only problem. According to Hyde County Commissioner Tom Pahl, in a speech at the Community Foundation’s Annual Meeting, 88 out of 105 businesses on Ocracoke sustained significant damage. Many were left unemployed, and the financial strain was extraordinary.

The first grants from the Community Foundation were for assistance with the immediate needs of the community — paying for food, helping with utility and medical bills, replacing furniture and appliances — simply keeping day-to-day life moving forward.

Pastor Belch believes the speed at which the first grants and donations came to the island were important to the strength of the recovery.

“I would say definitely the amount of assistance and help and funding that came in, in the beginning, was a huge kickstart. I don’t think we would be where we’re at today if it hadn’t been for the amount of monetary and physical donations and help that came in the beginning,” he said.

That aid was invaluable. Although there has been significant funding for large projects to restore roads and infrastructure from government agencies, neither the state nor federal government had the flexibility or speed to help a family immediately who had lost a home or a job.

Working with the Community Foundation, a committee of volunteers from the Ocracoke Fire Department came together to distribute funds to storm victims. But in a community as tightly knit as Ocracoke, it was important that everyone believed in the integrity of the system. Thus, a group of volunteer caseworkers was formed to interview clients to ascertain needs, and pass along that information anonymously to decision-makers, with victims’ names and addresses withheld.

In an interview in November 2019 for the Coastal Review Online, Fire Department committee member Charles Temple explained the process.

“What we settled on was using case workers who could be advocates for their clients to us, but we wouldn’t know who the client was until we had already made decisions about giving out money,” he said.

Over time the needs of the community changed. By the end of November, NC 12 on the north end of the island had been repaired, and the goods, services, and workers needed to repair the damage done by Dorian were coming to Ocracoke. But as those goods and services reached the island, the necessity of addressing the damage to Ocracoke’s homes — and the critical shortage of housing — became even more apparent.

As 2019 ended and the new year began, the new challenge facing the Relief Fund was what could be done for the homes of Ocracoke and Hatteras Island.

Today, a year after Dorian, the Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund has now helped over 350 families from Ocracoke and Dare County, in partnership with the Ocracoke Fire Department, Interfaith Community Outreach, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, Hyde County, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. But the challenges to address housing, increase our community’s resiliency, and make our communities whole, have continued, especially through COVID.

Coming Up: Part Two: Housing, and the COVID Crisis

COVID Rapid Response Grants Round Six Now Open

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications from nonprofits for a sixth round of COVID Rapid Response Grants.

During this cycle, the Community Foundation is especially encouraging grant proposals from groups addressing childcare and remote learning needs during school closures.

To be eligible for a COVID Rapid Response Grant, programs must be urgent in nature and must be related to the Coronavirus crisis, either directly (e.g., programs that assist students with remote learning) or indirectly (e.g., assistance to workers without child care). True to their name, COVID Rapid Response Grants have an expedited application process and a fast-track decision timeframe. COVID-related requests must be submitted by 5pm on Monday, September 14 via a one- or two-page letter, plus attached budget, with funding decisions made the following week.

“The Outer Banks continues to face unprecedented challenges through the COVID crisis,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “One challenge that we’d particularly like to address is the urgent need to support working families of school-age children while our schools are closed. We are very interested in helping families that must work during the school day, as well as families with children with special learning needs.”

To date, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $220,000 in COVID Rapid Response Grants for a wide range of programs, including nutritional assistance, internet connectivity for at-home students, and financial assistance for the unemployed.

To apply for a grant, nonprofits should first review the grant guidelines published online at, and then call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 to discuss their project and funding needs.

OBCF Awards $65,000 in COVID Grants for Childcare and Educational Needs

In its fifth round of COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants, the Outer Banks Community Foundation has awarded more than $65,000 in emergency funding to local nonprofits. The grants will help families in Dare County afford childcare and tutoring during the COVID-19 school closures.

“Our schools are starting in 10 days with remote learning, which will safeguard our students and teachers through the COVID crisis, but will also present a tremendous challenge for working families who cannot stay home with their kids,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director.

“The Community Foundation is working to address this urgent need by helping nonprofits offer new childcare and tutoring programs in our community, and by offering scholarships to help families afford these and other educational programs.”

The Outer Banks Family YMCA received a grant to launch its E-Learning Academy, a full-day program designed for kids, Pre-K through 8th Grade, learning virtually this school year. Through this program, the Y is transforming its Nags Head facility into “classrooms” that will support students’ online education and remote learning. Academic coaches at the Y will support students through the Dare County Schools’ curriculum and provide additional daily enrichment for kids. The grant from the Community Foundation will allow the Y to offer E-Learning Academy “scholarships” to families who cannot otherwise afford the program. For more details, and to enroll your child, please call the YMCA at 252-449-8897.

The Mustang Outreach Program also received a grant from the Community Foundation, for a Remote Learning and Tutoring Center Project in Kill Devil Hills. Following CDC guidelines, the Center will serve as a safe, centrally located, and sanitized environment for tutoring, with an emphasis on serving children with special learning needs. The grant from the Community Foundation will allow the Program to offer scholarships to families who cannot otherwise afford tutoring. For more details, and to enroll your child, please call Mustang Outreach at 252-441-4612.

In addition to these two new programs, the Community Foundation is also supporting families through a grant to Interfaith Community Outreach. Through Community Foundation funding, Interfaith will offer monetary assistance to families with financial need to help pay for any type of childcare and/or tutoring the family may need. “Whether it’s a babysitter, a childcare facility, a special needs educator, or an afterschool tutor helping a child learn English, this grant to Interfaith will help families give their children with the support and care they need to be safe and succeed in remote learning,” said Ms. Costa. Families can apply for assistance at, or by calling 252-480-0070.

The grants announced today are funded by a special gift the Community Foundation received from an anonymous donor at the end of last year. The Community Foundation announced the Vision 2020 Fund for the Outer Banks in February, with the intent of using the gift to address an urgent and pressing community need, to be identified.

“Today, as the COVID crisis continues to affect local families, businesses, and nonprofits across our community, the Board of the Community Foundation decided that the best use of the Vision 2020 Fund was to address these on-going, urgent, COVID-related needs,” said Ms. Costa.

You can help more families in our community afford child care, get access to educational support, and otherwise thrive through remote learning and the COVID-19 crisis. To contribute to the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Grants Fund, visit, or call 252-261-8839 for more information.

Community Foundation Accepting Applications for COVID Grants

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications from nonprofits for a fifth round of COVID Rapid Response Grants, as well as applications from any nonprofit for any type of charitable project benefiting the Outer Banks.

During this cycle, the Community Foundation is especially encouraging grant proposals from groups addressing childcare and remote learning needs during school closures.

To be eligible for a COVID Rapid Response Grant, programs must be urgent in nature and must be related to the Coronavirus crisis, either directly (e.g., programs to stop the spread) or indirectly (e.g., assistance to workers without child care). True to their name, COVID Rapid Response Grants have an expedited application process and a fast-track decision timeframe. COVID-related requests must be submitted by 5pm on Friday, July 31 via a one- or two-page letter, plus attached budget, with funding decisions made by August 7.

“The Outer Banks continues to face unprecedented challenges through the COVID crisis,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “One challenge that we’d particularly like to address is the urgent need to support working families of school-age children while our schools are closed. We are very interested in helping families that must work during the school day, as well as families with children with special learning needs.”

Earlier this year, the Community Foundation awarded more than $150,000 in COVID Rapid Response Grants for a wide range of programs, including nutritional assistance, internet connectivity for at-home students, and financial assistance for the unemployed.

To apply for a grant, nonprofits should first review the grant guidelines published online at, and then call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 to discuss their project and funding needs.

In addition to COVID-related projects, the Community Foundation is also accepting applications for any charitable project benefiting the Outer Banks through the Community Enrichment Grants Program. Community Enrichment Grants are offered on a competitive basis for any kind of nonprofit program, including: arts & culture; animal welfare; children & youth; education; the environment; disaster relief & prevention; health; historic interpretation & preservation; and other human services.

Most Community Enrichment Grants will support the direct costs of a charitable project or program. In 2019, for example, the Community Foundation sponsored pet resuscitation masks for Dare County fire departments through the Coastal Humane Society, furnishings for the Monarch Beach Club’s day programs, and renovations and new appliances for the Roanoke Island Food Pantry.

Some limited Community Enrichment Grants are also available to nonprofits for program staff wages. For example, a grant in 2019 is allowing the Community Care Clinic to retain a Spanish language translator and interpreter to provide medical care to low-income, uninsured, and under-insured patients.

Community Enrichment Grants also are awarded for capacity-building projects, with a goal of enhancing a nonprofit’s long-term effectiveness, financial stability, and/or program quality. For example, grants were awarded last year for software for the Outer Banks Relief Foundation and for computer equipment for Interfaith Community Outreach.

Additionally, the Community Foundation awards program scholarship grants, which are grants to enable a nonprofit to offer “scholarships” to individuals and families with financial need or other hardship. The scholarships offset the registration fees that the nonprofit would normally charge for any kind of enrichment program, such as an educational offering or tutoring program.

While applications for COVID Rapid Response Grants may be in the format of a brief letter, applications for Community Enrichment Grants must be submitted via the Community Foundation’s online system. The deadline for Community Enrichment Grants is also Friday, July 31, but Community Enrichment Grants will be awarded on September 3. All applicants are urged to call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 before starting an application. More information can be found at

Lorelei Costa Elected to Statewide Nonprofit Board

The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits announced today that Outer Banks Community Foundation Executive Director Lorelei Costa has been elected to the statewide board of directors of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

The announcement states: “Since 2012, Costa has led the Outer Banks Community Foundation, a public charity that helps to increase charitable giving, manage charitable funds, and provide targeted grants and scholarships to meet local needs in Dare County, Ocracoke, and across all Outer Banks communities.

“We’re so pleased that Lorelei brings her experience and perspective from both the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to the Center’s board and the greater North Carolina nonprofit community the Center serves and advocates for,” said Jeanne Tedrow, president and CEO of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

Costa also serves as a board member of the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, and recently served on the Community Leadership Council of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. She has a been a life-long volunteer with nonprofits, including performing arts groups, historic preservation, public radio, women’s health, and a homeless shelter, and her local fire department.

About the Center: Founded in 1990, the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as a statewide network for nonprofit board and staff members, an information center on effective organizational practices, and an advocate for the nonprofit sector as a whole. We offer services directly to all sizes and types of 501(c)(3) nonprofits and work closely with other local, state and national groups that assist nonprofits.”

Costa said, “It’s an honor to be elected to this board. I have long admired the NC Center for Nonprofits. They are a very valuable resource to groups across the state, including ours.”

2019 Annual Report is Published Online

Our 2019 Annual Report is published! At a time when more and more experiences are virtual ones, we decided not to print a large batch of books, but instead, to publish and share an historic year in our Community Foundation with you online.

The main reason: there were just too many donors to print – to do so would have nearly doubled the size of our Annual Report! A record 6,000 donors from around the country and across the globe contributed to our Disaster Relief Fund after Hurricane Dorian. That disaster was unlike anything our community had seen, since the Community Foundation was formed, nearly forty years ago. Daniel Pullen’s photos, a heart-warming story, and a complete list of disaster donors all are included in this year’s report, in addition to other important benchmarks.

There were four new scholarship funds created in 2019, to honor people who worked hard, got ahead, and who inspired others to achieve more and to always think and act generously. Thirty 2019 graduating seniors and nineteen college students received $192,000 in scholarships in 2019, from 55 scholarship funds held in trust at the Community Foundation. Each scholarship represents a student who is preparing to go out into the world to live their dreams and reach their goals.

There are six new funds, created in 2019 by big-hearted donors who wanted to leave this Outer Banks a better place. Five of these are “endowed,” meaning they have been placed in trust so they will aid the community for many generations into the future, finding solutions to pressing needs and supporting promising opportunities we can only dream of today.

The Community Foundation’s story—the one you’ll see in our 2019 Annual Report—is really about thousands of donors, all with different interests, different passions, and different stories. Some want to ensure our children have opportunities for bright futures. Some want to use our expertise to create funds to support a specific charity, alma mater, or park. Others have broader interests and want to apply their donations to address larger needs. Still others want to give back to a place that has given them so much, and help the Outer Banks in general, with a forever gift to the community.

It is our honor at the Outer Banks Community Foundation to connect people who care with the causes, great and small, that matter most to them. We ensure their legacies are honored, stewarded, and do the most good.

We hope you enjoy reading the good YOU helped create in 2019. And we hope you’re thinking about the kind of mark you are making, and the lives you are touching, through your philanthropy. We invite you to call us at 252-261-8830 to help you further your legacy of giving.

Read the full annual report here.

Community Foundation Awards $37,000 to 14 Nonprofits

At the June meeting of the Outer Banks Community Foundation Board of Directors, over $37,000 was awarded to support the work of 14 vital nonprofits. The grants will aid a variety of local causes, including care for our elderly, therapeutic activities for people with special needs, food, medicine, education, and the arts.

NC MedAssist received a $10,000 Community Enrichment Grant to provide free prescription medications to low-income, uninsured Dare County residents. An estimated 15% of Dare County adults are uninsured and 11% of our residents live at or below the federal poverty level. Last year, NC MedAssist served 245 Dare County residents, providing them with more than $650,000 in needed, and often life-saving, medications.

NC MedAssist reports that the high cost of prescription medications is still the number one reason why uninsured individuals go without their daily medicine for diseases like high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes. “Without our programs, our patients would have to choose between putting food on the table and purchasing their medicine,” wrote Sheila Kidwell, NC MedAssist Director of Foundations and Communications.

Dare County residents can apply for medication assistance online at or by calling MedAssist toll-free at (866)331-1348.

MANE & TAILL Therapeutic Horsemanship Academy earned a $7,000 Special Focus Grant to provide individual riding lessons and horsemanship skills to people with special needs in Currituck County. MANE & TAILL has been serving the community since 2009, providing a safe, nurturing environment for approximately fifty clients each year. Their programs are designed so that children and adults with special needs can learn life lessons and reach physical, emotional, and social goals from their experiences with horses.

This grant was made possible by a bequest from the late Pauline Wright of Currituck, who had a passion for helping people with disabilities and left a gift to the Community Foundation in her will to do exactly that.

Outer Banks Forever was awarded a $500 Special Focus Grant for digital education and distance learning programs about the history of the Wright Brothers.

Special Focus Grants are available in the spring of each year, with dedicated funds earmarked by donors for the causes they choose. The Community Foundation currently administers Special Focus Grants in the areas of animal welfare, aviation education, and opportunities for people with disabilities, in both Dare and Currituck.

Several donor-advised funds also made grants in June, including the Kelly Family Fund, the Preston Family Fund, and the Burwell A. Evans Charitable Fund. Donor-advised funds are managed on behalf of individuals and families, who recommend the grants that are awarded. This month’s recipients include G.E.M. Adult Day Services, Friends of Jockey’s Ridge, NC Coastal Land Trust, Lacey J. McNeil First Flight Rotary Scholarship, Outer Banks Relief Foundation, Beach Food Pantry, and Dare County Arts Council.

The Community Foundation is now accepting applications for its next cycle of Community Enrichment Grants. Eligible projects must directly benefit all or a portion of the Community Foundation’s service area, which includes all of Dare County, and all Outer Banks communities, from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. Community Enrichment Grants support all charitable causes, including arts and culture, children/youth, disaster relief and prevention, education, the environment, historic interpretation and preservation, and other human services.

Prospective applicants are urged to review the grant guidelines online at, and then call the Community Foundation to discuss their ideas. The application deadline is Friday, July 31, 2020.

Community Foundation Awards $164,000 in Scholarships

For a full list of scholarship recipients, please visit

The Outer Banks Community Foundation awarded $164,000 in scholarships this spring, helping students from across the Outer Banks achieve their educational dreams.

31 graduating seniors from Cape Hatteras Secondary School, Manteo High School, Currituck County High School, Ocracoke School, and First Flight High School received scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year. Of these students,15 received awards that are renewable for up to four years of college.

In addition to these awards, the Community Foundation has also renewed financial support to 22 current college students who earned multi-year scholarships.

The R. Stewart Couch Hatteras Island Scholarship, in the amount of $8,600, was awarded to Hatteras Island Secondary School senior Jadon Midgett. Stewart Couch established this scholarship for Hatteras Island students through a generous bequest in his last will and testament. Contributions raised by the Outer Banks Association of Realtors in Stewart’s memory were added to his bequest to make this the Community Foundation’s most generous single-year award. The scholarship is given each year to one graduating high school senior from Hatteras Island, the “diamond in the rough” who just needs a little help to achieve his or her educational dreams.

“Throughout High School, I have always done my best to keep a strong academic record and maintain involvement in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Now it seems that all of this work is finally beginning to pay off,” wrote Jadon. “As the son of a lineman and the grandson of a commercial fisherman, I come from a blue-collar family and am a first-generation college student… this scholarship will certainly be a big help.”

First Flight High School graduating senior Sara Rae (Simone) Midgett was awarded the $6,000 Jerry and Arlene Davis Scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years, with a total value of $24,000. This need-based scholarship targets Manteo and First Flight High School students who worked throughout high school and who plan to continue to work through college. The intent of this scholarship is to help students achieve educational dreams that might not otherwise be possible. Simone also received a $1,000 Outer Banks Association of Realtors Scholarship.

“I worked hard to become captain of the lacrosse team and Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper,” wrote Simone in her application essay. “I worked hard to be elected student government secretary and president of Teen Democrats. I worked hard for all of these things because I knew they could help me reach my goal: to go to college. For me, having the opportunity to go to college allows me to beat the odds. I would be the first person in my family to go to college and graduate.”

The Milton A. Jewell Academic Scholarship, a four-year, $24,000 award, went to Judith “Judy” Rose Williams of First Flight High School.

Judy wrote, “My goal is to become a pediatric surgeon and travel the world, giving patients the healthcare they deserve. One day, I hope to move to a Third World country and open a clinic with an attached orphanage or youth center. I not only want to give children physical support, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual support. I am determined to give them the opportunity to live out their passions, just as I intend to live out mine.”

The Community Foundation also announced three new scholarship programs this year. Two scholarships were created by Millie Roughton, in memory of her late husband, local entrepreneur, and Bear Pharmacy founder Billy Roughton. The Billy G. Roughton Memorial Scholarship for Medical Professions provides financial assistance to students from Dare or Currituck Counties with strong academic records who are pursuing a field of study in an allied, clinical health profession; the Billy G. Roughton Memorial Scholarship for Tourism and Hospitality will award scholarships to learners with strong academic records who are pursuing certification in tourism and/or hospitality. The Karen Phillips Scholarship, also established in 2019, will be awarded to a Dare County student who plans to pursue studies in a medical field. The first scholarships from these three new funds will be awarded in the fall of 2020 by Community Foundation scholarship partners College of the Albemarle and Mount Olivet United Methodist Church.

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 Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839, or donate to an existing fund online at