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.

Community Foundation 2022 Annual Meeting Recap

Community Foundation Honors Sheila Davies, Elects New Board Members, and Celebrates 40 Years at Annual Meeting

The Outer Banks Community Foundation held its annual meeting virtually via zoom on February 22. Three new board members were elected by Community Foundation membership, and two departing board members were thanked and recognized. Sheila Davies, Director of the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services and Public Health Director, was named as the Community Foundation’s 2021 Champion for her exemplary service and dedication to the Outer Banks in compassionately leading our community during a pandemic and beyond.

“In my 20 plus years living on Outer Banks, I’ve been continually impressed by the loving and giving nature of the people here,” said Dr. Davies. “Time and time again, when needs arise, the Outer Banks Community Foundation, area nonprofits, businesses, government, and citizens step up and create solutions. Congratulations and thank you to the Outer Banks Community Foundation for 40 years of remarkable service and giving to our community.”

Betty Govan Selby, Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Manteo and Northeastern NC Regional Coordinator for Advance NC; Ray Meiggs of Southern Shores, former Executive Director of both the Arts of the Albemarle and the Whalehead Preservation Trust, and Twiddy & Company real estate executive; and Claudia Neall of Nags Head, a Senior Foreign Language Interpreter with Dare County Department of Health & Human Services and former Director of Mano al Hermano were unanimously elected by Community Foundation membership to serve as at-large board members.

Two retiring board members were thanked for their outstanding service: Jane Webster of Kitty Hawk, who served as the Community Foundation’s Vice Chair in 2020 and 2021 and Grants Chair from 2019 – 2021; and Nancy Caviness of Duck, who served as an at-large board member from 2017 – 2021, including as Scholarship Committee Co-Chair from 2018 – 2021.

In 2021, grants and disbursements went to the community through donor-advised funds ($190,656), organization and designated funds ($169,467), scholarships ($174,900) Community Enrichment and Focus grants ($207,896), and disaster grants ($146,300).

The meeting included a special video honoring Community Foundation founders and Emeritus board members from 1982 to today and celebrating more than 200 funds established and $12 million in grants and scholarships awarded since the Community Foundation began. The seven-minute video, produced by Twiddy & Company, can be seen on the Community Foundation’s website and YouTube page.

Community Foundation President and CEO Chris Sawin acknowledged contributions of talent over the years, starting with Founder David Stick and founding board members Andy Griffith, Edward Greene, Jack Adams, Martin Kellogg, Cashar Evans, Jr., and Ray White, expressing gratitude to them for creating a charity whereby current and future generations can ‘put something back’ for the betterment of all.

Community Foundation Board Chair Clark Twiddy closed the meeting by saying, “We hope to inspire personal generosity; work on behalf of our donors and community on governance, sustainability, and good stewardship of assets; and to create meaningful impact through grants and scholarships, as well as through our full engagement in our communities.”

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, administers 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.


The Outer Banks Community Foundation wishes to thank

– Miles Daniels and Ben Wiener of Twiddy & Company, for producing our 40th Anniversary video

– Twiddy and Company for donating space and technology for our Annual Meeting live stream

– Katy Spore for creating our 40th Anniversary artwork

– Hilton Garden Inn for their use of the Kitty Hawk Fishing Pier for video interviews

– Barb Noel for program layout and design assistance

– Interviewees, speakers, and on-camera – Jack Adams, Pastor Ivey Belch, Lorelei Costa, Jean-Louise Dixon, Cashar Evans, Adrianna Noel Goodwin, Daniel Palacios-Ibarra, Mike Kelly, Alicia Peele, Litzy Velazquez Tovar, and Jane Webster

– Brett Barley for storm video footage

– Daniel Pullen and Outer Banks History Center, Drew C. Wilson Photograph Collection, for use of images


Community Foundation Now Accepting Grant Applications

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications from nonprofits for its 2021 Community Enrichment Grants Program. Applications must be submitted online via the Community Foundation’s web portal. The first deadline of the year is Friday, January 29 at midnight.

The Community Enrichment Grants Program is the Community Foundation’s largest and broadest funding opportunity. The grants are offered on a competitive basis for any kind of charitable project that benefits the Outer Banks, or any part thereof. Areas of interest include: arts & culture; animal welfare; children & youth; education; the environment; disaster relief & mitigation; health; historic interpretation & preservation; and other human services.

Most Community Enrichment Grants will support the direct costs of a charitable project or program. In 2020, for example, the Community Foundation sponsored prescription and over-the-counter medications for Dare residents through NC MedAssist, an ATV for sea turtle nest monitoring for the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, and a hydroponic growing system for the Peace Garden Project.

Community Enrichment Grants are also awarded for capacity-building projects, with a goal of enhancing a nonprofit’s long-term effectiveness, financial stability, and/or program quality. For example, a grant was awarded last year for a new website for Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation.

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 after-school program. For example, a 2020 Community Enrichment grant provided scholarships for children with disabilities for MANE and TAILL Therapeutic Horsemanship Academy.

Some limited Community Enrichment Grants are also available to nonprofits for program staff wages.

Community Enrichment Grants will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout 2021, and will be reviewed and awarded quarterly. Any applications received by Friday, January 29 will have a decision by March 12. Before starting an application for any grant, prospective applicants should first review the criteria online at, and then contact Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839 to discuss their projects.

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.

Community Foundation Awards $150,000 in COVID Grants

This week the Outer Banks Community Foundation announced its fourth round of COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants, awarding over $13,000 to three more nonprofits. These latest grants will support artists in Dare County, a diaper drive for families with young children, and essential upgrades for our community’s free health clinic.

In total the Community Foundation has awarded over $150,000 in COVID Grants since March 13 to sixteen local nonprofits, supporting their efforts to provide for the basic, urgent needs of Outer Bankers during the Coronavirus emergency.

“Since mid-March, our local nonprofits have been on the front lines of this crisis, keeping our families secure and healthy through this pandemic,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “This extraordinary work is despite our nonprofits suffering from over $1.1 million in revenue losses because of the COVID crisis, due to canceled fundraisers, decreased donations, and lost opportunities for earned income.”

“The Community Foundation has been honored to help begin to fill this funding gap for our indispensable nonprofits. We’ve been so inspired by their tireless determination to serve our community’s basic needs through the COVID-19 crisis, and we are honored to assist in their efforts.”

The fourth, most recent round of Rapid Response Grants funded new needs related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Recognizing the important role that the “creative class” of artists, musicians, and performers play in Dare County — and the impacts that the COVID shut-down has had on their livelihoods — the Community Foundation awarded Dare County Arts Council a grant of $5,000 to support new digital revenue platforms for Outer Banks artists. The grant will support virtual concerts, online classes, an online store of local artists’ wares, and digital art exhibits.

Funding for this grant was from a bequest from the late Dorothy Luedemann, a local artist whose Legacy Gift to the Community Foundation established a forever fund to award grants to arts organizations across Dare County

Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County also received a Rapid Response Grant in May: $5,000 to address an area of unmet need—diapers for families of young children. The cost and lack of availability of diapers and wipes have put a significant strain on families already struggling to pay rent, provide food, and afford other basics. The Children and Youth Partnership is planning drive-through diaper distribution events on Roanoke and Hatteras islands in the near future, so families can conveniently and safely receive these vital necessities.

The Community Care Clinic of Dare also received a Rapid Response Grant in May to upgrade their facility, to allow for better sanitation, social distancing, and telemedicine. The clinic provides free primary medical care, medication assistance, and health and wellness education to approximately 550 uninsured and underinsured patients each year who live or work in Dare County.

Since March, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $70,000 to local food assistance programs to meet increased needs through the COVID crisis, from Kitty Hawk to Hatteras Island to Ocracoke. Rapid Response Grants have helped the Beach Food Pantry, Food for Thought, the Lifeline Outreach in Salvo, Bread of Life Food Pantry in Ocracoke, and the Buxton Food Pantry. Hatteras Island Meals and the Albemarle Development Corporation also received assistance to serve prepared meals to homebound seniors and adults with special needs.

Other Rapid Response Grants have provided financial assistance to Dare County residents who are out of work due to Coronavirus closures. Interfaith Community Outreach and Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men are using grant money to help families that are most affected by unemployment or underemployment, by assisting with rent, mortgage, utilities, medical bills, and more.

Dare County and Ocracoke students benefited from more than $15,000 in grants, used to fund wireless access and adaptive equipment for special needs students. The goal of these grants was to allow students to successfully participate in remote learning and online classes through the mandated school closures. The Community Foundation was also able to award a wireless access grant for Currituck County students through a donor-advised fund.

“We have been blessed at the Community Foundation to receive several bequests, major donations, and legacy gifts over the years to endow our community grant-making,” said Ms. Costa. “These gifts, made over many years, have given us the flexibility to rapidly respond in times of crisis. We are more grateful than ever to our donors. Their legacy gifts continue to allow us to be innovative in meeting community needs as they arise.”

Community Foundation Awards $37,680 in COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants to Nine Nonprofits

In our second round of COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants, the Outer Banks Community Foundation has announced $37,680 in emergency funding to nine local nonprofits, supporting their efforts to provide for the basic, urgent needs of Outer Bankers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“As this pandemic deepens, our nonprofit partners are rising to overcome serious obstacles, and are determined to continue ensuring that their clients have access to basic services,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “These leaders are acting with courage, perseverance, and selfless generosity, and we are honored to be able to help support our partners who are meeting the most essential needs of our community.”

The Community Foundation awarded almost $30,000 to local food assistance programs across the Outer Banks. Grantees include the Beach Food Pantry, the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Ocracoke, Hatteras Island Meals, Lifeline Outreach in Salvo, and Food For Thought. These organizations are all serving record numbers of clients through the COVID-19 crisis. Rapid Response Grants will restock pantry shelves, purchase additional refrigeration, support home-delivered meals for at-risk seniors, deliver grocery hampers, and provide food vouchers for families in need.

Rapid Response Grants are helping our community’s homeless. Room in the Inn, a nonprofit that organizes shelter for the homeless through the winter months, is now able to extend their season, thanks in part to a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation. The Rapid Response Grant will allow them to continue sheltering homeless adults for at least another month through the COVID crisis, following CDC health and safety guidelines for emergency shelters.

The Community Care Clinic of Dare was awarded $939 in support of new telemedicine services. The grant will purchase blood pressure cuffs and no-patient-contact thermometers, so that clinic staff may safely provide quality care for their patients with chronic conditions through telemedicine.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has now awarded over $90,000 in COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants. Although priority for these grants has been given to meeting basic human needs through the crisis, especially food and nutritional assistance, the Community Foundation has also been able to utilize special funds to help with other projects. For example, dedicated funds to help animals will support the Coastal Humane Society, Feline Hope, and Friends of Felines in supplying dog food, cat food, and cat litter at local food pantries, helping people care for their pets during this difficult time.

Dedicated funding to help people with disabilities is supporting Easterseals UCP in purchasing “sensory bags” for their clients with intellectual disabilities from Dare and Currituck Counties. The bags will include items that clients can use at home during this socially isolating time to support language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem-solving skills, and social interaction.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation continues to accept applications for its COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program. Grant requests will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed every two weeks to ensure quick decisions and timely programs. The third application deadline is 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 16; decisions will be announced on Tuesday, April 21.

To be eligible for a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, programs must be related to the Coronavirus crisis, either directly (e.g., care for patients) or indirectly (e.g., assistance to out-of-work residents). Priority has been given to meeting essential human needs, especially food and nutritional assistance. Other priorities may include medical care, shelter, other essential supplies and needs (e.g., face masks, sanitation supplies), support for essential workers, remote learning, and health and wellness programs, including mental health programs. Special emphasis may be given to at-risk populations, including the homeless, the elderly, people with financial need, essential workers, people with disabilities, and people with health risks.

To apply for a Rapid Response Grant, nonprofits should first call the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 to discuss their programs and their funding needs. From there, requests can be submitted via an emailed one- or two-page letter in PDF format, briefly describing the nonprofit’s mission, the project at hand, the dollar amount requested, the local need it would meet, and the beneficiaries of the proposed program. You can find more information about all of these programs, and how to apply, at

Wells Fargo Bank Awards $50,000 Grant for Disaster Relief

Wells Fargo has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Outer Banks Community Foundation for the Ocracoke Disaster Relief Fund. The grant will directly support hundreds of households who have been devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

“Our hearts go out to all the families and businesses impacted by Hurricane Dorian,” said Thomas Cline, Wells Fargo’s Region Bank president for Eastern North Carolina. “Wells Fargo is committed to supporting our communities in their time of need, and we appreciate the Community Foundation’s commitment to ensuring that every penny in the Disaster Relief Fund will go directly to hurricane victims.”

“Our neighbors on Ocracoke are still struggling terribly in the aftermath of this hurricane,” said Lorelei Costa, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “Private philanthropy is now playing the leading role in rebuilding our communities, and Wells Fargo’s donation is a big step forward in meeting our neighbors’ needs.”

Already, dozens of  households on Ocracoke have been awarded assistance through the Disaster Relief Fund. Administered in partnership with the Ocracoke Fire Department, the Fund is helping these families with appliances, car down payments, utilities, rent payments, wheelchair ramps, medications and medical equipment, electrical repairs, and much more.

The Disaster Relief Fund has also pledged up to $500,000 toward temporary shelter and home repair needs. In partnership with Hyde County, the Fund is paying for utility hook-ups for 35 temporary trailers for Ocracoke families while their homes are rebuilt or repaired. Additionally, the Disaster Relief Fund has pledged financial assistance to purchase building supplies for home repairs for 60 Ocracoke homes, in partnership the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

These awards, said Ms. Costa, are just the beginning of many grants to come over the next many months.

Relief efforts on Ocracoke are led by volunteers, who are contributing countless unpaid hours to helping their neighbors in the recovery. This includes volunteer case workers, who are working directly with storm victims, and the members of the Ocracoke Fire Department, who are managing disbursements. Beyond Ocracoke, more than 7,700 businesses and families have donated to the Disaster Relief Fund since Hurricane Dorian.

“We have been astounded by the efforts of the volunteers in Ocracoke, who are tirelessly helping their neighbors, and the generosity of people across the country who have donated to Disaster Relief,” said Ms. Costa. “From large institutions like Wells Fargo, to children running lemonade stands, the outpouring of generosity has been incredibly humbling.”

The Community Foundation is still accepting donations to the Disaster Relief Fund for Ocracoke. Contributors can visit to make a secure donation online. Or mail a check to OBCF, 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949, with “Ocracoke disaster relief” written in the memo line.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that helps meet local needs across Dare County and the entire Outer Banks. The Community Foundations manages $19 million in 175 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards charitable grants to local nonprofits, administers 50 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 $9 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.