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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North Carolina Basnight Cancer Hospital Honors Late Senator

Image courtesy UNC Health

UNC Health announced on Monday that North Carolina’s state cancer hospital will now bear the name of one of its most influential and dedicated supporters. As a tribute to the legacy of the late Senator Marc Basnight, the longest serving legislative leader in our state’s history who passed away in 2020, the building was officially renamed the North Carolina Basnight Cancer Hospital in a ceremony on Monday, September 19, at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. “The mission of UNC Health is to promote the health and well-being of the people of North Carolina,” said Wesley Burks, MD, CEO of UNC Health and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “Today was a great opportunity to come together to honor Senator Basnight, a man who embodied that mission throughout his career in public service.”

The new, commemorative plaque at NC Basnight Cancer Hospital reads in part:

A man who, driven by vision and commitment to a state that would champion the health of all its citizens, made this hospital possible.

Inspired by doctors, researchers, patients, and caregivers he met during his beloved wife Sandy’s battle with cancer, Senator Basnight’s leadership toward North Carolina’s investment in the fight against cancer impacts every patient who walks through these doors. The University of North Carolina’s Cancer Research Fund, Biomedical Research Imaging Center, and this hospital are all a direct result of his unwavering focus on the lives of every citizen in our state.

“This place is an important part of his sweeping legacy, and it is so fitting that it should carry his name… but he wouldn’t care about that much,” said Governor Roy Cooper at the dedication ceremony. “He really didn’t want to be anything that he wasn’t already…he just wanted to get it done. Well here we are Marc, good work. Get it done, my friend. Get it done.”

UNC Health produced a video of the September 19, 2022 dedication.

Trust Company of the South Current Market Conditions Presentation

Trust Company of the South (TCTS) and Community Foundation (OBCF) at Ramada Breakfast Meeting, 9-15-22. L-R Bill Noble, TCTS; Chris Sawin, OBCF; Jeff Dippold, OBCF; Burke Koonce, TCTS; MaryAnn Toboz, OBCF; Pat Regan, OBCF; Jonathan Henry, TCTS; Dan Tolomay, TCTS; Joseph Aulisi, TCTS.

We love the opportunity to learn from experts, and Community Foundation board and staff were delighted to welcome Trust Company of the South leaders to the Outer Banks in mid-September for two special gatherings.

Trust Company has been a valued and steadfast partner in Community Foundation asset management for nearly 20 years now. They have steadily out-performed the market and have provided healthy returns on investments, meaning more funds available for grants and scholarships each year.

While at the beach, Bill, Burke, Dan, Jonathan, and Joseph met with our board of directors over dinner, and then presented on Current Market Conditions to local estate planners and OBCF fund establishers at a Community Foundation networking breakfast at the Ramada.

Their slide presentation can be viewed here:

Trust Co of the South Current Market Conditions Presentation 2022.09.15

Community Foundation board and staff are dedicated to helping the Outer Banks have the resources it needs to be safe, strong, and vibrant. To that end, we steward community assets; award grants and scholarships; support nonprofits through training, convening, and grant-making; and fundraise when major disasters strike. We are planning more networking breakfasts and meetings with estate planning professionals; our next event will be in Spring 2023.

$65,150 in 3rd Quarter Grants Awarded to Eight Nonprofits

Community Foundation Awards $65,150 to Eight Nonprofits for Nutrition, Education, History & Culture, Performing Arts, and Pet Health

A learning moment amid butterfly release excitement. Photo courtesy of Elizabethan Gardens.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation board of directors approved $65,150 in third quarter Community Enrichment grants to eight nonprofits, lending support to programs that educate our children, nurture our elderly, provide animal welfare, support the performing arts, appreciate our environment, history, and culture and train our region’s nonprofit leaders.

Outer Banks Forum for the Lively Arts received grant support for their 38th season relaunch. “We are grateful to the Community Foundation for their support of this exciting entertainment series,” said Forum President David Connaughton. “Our supporters also make possible the college scholarships and student internships in performance, sound, and stage management we are able to offer. World-class entertainment and focus on the performing arts enrich us all.”

Dare Education Foundation received funding to assist with in-house technology for Language Arts programs in all county schools. Teachers will be able to use grant-funded document cameras to provide high-quality visual components that increase student engagement in class.

Elizabethan Gardens was awarded funding for PlantED, a new child education initiative to increase learning and nurture enthusiasm for nature, botany, gardening, and environmental science. “We greatly appreciate the Community Foundation’s support to enhance educational programming at the Gardens,” said Executive Director Theresa Armendarez. “This funding will add sensory elements to the Discovery Cottage outdoor space that will help us serve a broader audience.”

The Tamassee Group received grant funding for a new documentary film that will promote public awareness of the Outer Banks and its fascinating history. The film’s anticipated completion date is early 2024.

Hatteras Island Meals received a grant to provide nutritious, hot meals to homebound Hatteras Island residents each weekday. “Community Foundation grant support goes a long way toward moving us closer to our goals,” said Hatteras Island Meals Board Chair Mike Tidd. “We delivered compassionate outreach and 10,000 hot meals last year; we expect that we’ll beat that number in 2022. There’s a need, and we’re meeting it head-on. We plan to continue doing just that.”

Coastal Humane Society was awarded grant funding to provide low-cost heartworm tests at vaccination clinics and subsidized treatment when pets test positive for heartworm.  They also will subsidize heartworm prevention medication for one year to owners in need of extra help.

NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island received a grant to support free public events and training for Dare County employees and residents. They plan to present at several community events where organizers are requesting services but can’t afford the associated costs.

A grant award to Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce will offset registration fees for nonprofit personnel to attend “Leadership OBX” in 2023. Interested nonprofit staff should visit the Chamber website for updates and applications.

“Community Enrichment grants offer nonprofits the opportunity to apply for funds from a growing and unrestricted grant-making pool,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin. “We encourage interested nonprofit leaders to contact us at any time to discuss their projects, so we can work together to help address the Outer Banks’ most pressing needs and promising opportunities.”

Grant applications are submitted to the Community Foundation via an online grants link. Organizations interested in applying for grants should contact Chris at the Community Foundation to discuss their project before applying. The next round of Community Enrichment grant applications is due by 11:59 pm on Friday, October 28.


Outer Banks Seafood Festival Endowment Created

Local commercial fisherman Jake Griffin demonstrates net hanging at the 2021 Outer Banks Seafood Festival.

We are pleased to announce that the Outer Banks Seafood Festival Endowment has been established by the Outer Banks Seafood Festival Board of Directors. The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is a nonprofit organization that promotes the positive impacts of our local seafood industry, educates people about seafood indigenous to North Carolina and the Outer Banks, and provides need-based support to the local fishing community and its members through festival proceeds.

The endowed, designated fund will be maintained to support the Seafood Festival and its philanthropy. As with all endowed funds held at the Community Foundation, it is structured to be a permanent resource for generations to come.

“The maritime industry is a cornerstone and key economic driver of our Outer Banks,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin. “This is the first fund established at the Community Foundation to specifically support the hard-working members of this industry, and we couldn’t be more grateful to The Outer Banks Seafood Festival for their generous efforts.”

“The Outer Banks Seafood Festival was founded in 2012 as a way to celebrate, promote, and support our local commercial fishing industry,” said Richard Hess, Chairman of the Seafood Festival Board. “Commercial fishing is a big part of our community’s cultural heritage, and it is vitally important to the Outer Banks. Our board is inspired to continue this annual event and steward event proceeds for the benefit of our working watermen and women and their families.”

Since 2012, the Festival has generated nearly $70,000 in grants and financial support for local maritime industry members in need. The 2022 Festival date is Saturday, October 15; event information is available at

Contributions to the new Seafood Festival Endowment can be made online at or by sending a check to OBCF, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949.

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 have 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 on July 28, 2022. 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 through a family fund, 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 seeing heart to heart, and 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 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

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.