2017 Annual Report Now Available!

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has released its 2017 Annual Report, showcasing 19 new endowment funds and $750,000 in grants and scholarships.

The report spotlights our director emeritus, Josephine Oden, and her mother, Inez Daniels Austin, and the scholarships endowments established in their memory. It also highlights Community Enrichment Grants to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund for new transportation, to the Beach Food Pantry providing cold storage for nourishing fresh foods, and to First Colony Foundation for their OBX History Weekend sharing the discovery of Site X.

Click here for special recognition of our Life Members on our website, who donated at special giving levels early in the Community Foundation history.

The Community Foundation gratefully thanks and acknowledges all of our generous 2017 donors, including designer, Barbara Noel, who generously donated 30% of the graphic design services for this beautiful report.

Download the report here: Outer Banks Community Foundation 2017 Annual Report.

OBCF Welcomes Lauren Mahler as 2018 Milton Jewell Intern

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is delighted to welcome Lauren Mahler this summer as our 2018 Milton Jewell Intern. Lauren has just finished her sophomore year at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where she is studying public policy and economics, and where she serves as president of her residence hall. Over the next 12 weeks, Lauren will be in our office part-time to help us update and improve several of our key databases, including our grants and scholarship records, and our nonprofit database. Lauren graduated from First Flight High School in 2016, and she is a past recipient of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors Scholarship. Welcome, Lauren!

Community Foundation Now Accepting Applications for Special Focus Grants

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications for its annual Special Focus Grants. Areas of Special Focus include Animal Welfare, Aviation Education, Health/Wellness, and Opportunities for People with Disabilities. Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 27, 2018.

Aviation grants will be drawn from the Aviation Education Fund. Requests for $500 or less may be made through a simple, one-page letter that explains the project and how the grant money would be spent. Applicants must also submit proof of tax-exempt status (e.g., 501c3 letter from the IRS). If an organization has a larger project in mind, it can apply for matching funds through the Community Foundation’s online application.

Animal welfare grants will support efforts to protect, rehabilitate, and care for animals, both domestic and wild. Animal grants will be drawn from the All God’s Creatures Fund, the Adams Family Fund for Animals, and the Schiffman Fund for Animals. In this category, requests for $1000 or less may be made through a one-page letter that explains the project and how the grant money would be spent. Proof of tax-exempt status must be attached. If an organization has a larger project in mind, it can apply for matching funds through the online application.

Health and wellness grants will be made from the Annual Advice 5K Turkey Trot Fund to improve and support the health and wellness of all people of the Outer Banks. Here, health and wellness is defined broadly, to include initiatives that attend to physical, social, emotional, and environmental health, and including projects that focus on prevention, education, and direct care. To be considered for a health and wellness grant, organizations must submit an application online.

Finally, in the area of opportunities for people with disabilities, the Community Foundation will utilize three special focus funds: the David Aycock Loy Memorial Fund, the Pauline Wright Endowment for Currituck County, and the Pauline Wright Endowment for Dare County. While the Loy Endowment focuses on children with developmental and/or learning disabilities, with a priority for children with autism, the Pauline Wright Endowments may give priority to programs for adults with Down syndrome. The Pauline Wright Endowments are available to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies, serving either Currituck or Dare residents, or both. To be considered for a Loy or Wright grant, organizations must submit an application online.

In addition to these Special Focus Grants, the Community Foundation is also accepting applications for its general Community Enrichment Grants Program, which is open to any nonprofit for any kind of charitable project that benefits the Outer Banks. This includes: arts & culture; children & youth; education; the environment; disaster relief & prevention; historic interpretation & preservation; and other human services.

Most Community Enrichment Grants will support the direct costs of a charitable project or program (e.g., art supplies, educational materials); however, 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 (e.g., computers, office equipment, strategic planning).

Program scholarship grants are also available; these are grants that enable a nonprofit to offer scholarships for its programs to participants in need. These scholarships would offset or reduce the participation fees normally charged for any sort of enrichment program, such as a day camp, educational offering, and/or after-school program.

Before submitting an application for any Special Focus or Community Enrichment Grant, prospective applicants should first review the criteria at www.obcf.org/grants, and then contact Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839 to discuss their projects. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 27, 2018. Grant decisions will be announced on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Community Foundation Announces $66,000 in Grants

In its first meeting of the year, the new board of the Outer Banks Community Foundation awarded over $66,000 to support 15 vital nonprofits. The grants will support a variety of local causes, from cancer support to music lessons for children, from historic preservation to environmental education.

The Pea Island Preservation Society earned a Community Enrichment Grant of over $29,000 for the “Freedmen, Surfmen, Heroes” project. Community Enrichment Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to nonprofits that apply for funds.

With this grant, the Pea Island Preservation Society will share the story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Life-Savers, illustrating positive messages of unity, diversity, and equal opportunity on the Outer Banks. The Pea Island Life-Savers was the all-black crew of surfmen best known for their courageous rescue of the E. S. Newman in 1896, when the heroic life-savers swam through a hurricane to retrieve the shipwrecked passengers one at a time. (The waves were too fierce for the surfboat.)

Elizabeth R and Company also received a Community Enrichment Grant: $10,000 to bring Verdi’s opera La Traviata to the Outer Banks on September 15, featuring local star Tshombe Selby, the NY Opera Studio, and local artists and musicians in the orchestra, chorus, and stage crew.

The Dare County Youth Orchestra received $3,866 for student workshops with the Virginia Symphony, and the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research received $4,588 for dolphin monitoring and educational panels at Jennette’s Pier.

Several donor-advised funds also made grants in March, including the Kelly Family Fund, the JoAnn and William Small Family Fund, and the Just for Today and Tomorrow Fund, in memory of Dorman N. Doutt and Florence B. Satterwhite. Donor-advised funds are managed on behalf of individuals and families, who recommend the grants that are awarded. This month’s recipients included a host of organizations, including locally the NC Coastal Federation, the Coastal Studies Institute, the Outer Banks Hospital for the Cancer Center Fund, the Coastal Voices program, and the NC Lions VIP Fishing Tournament.

The Community Foundation also established a new grant-making fund at its March meeting: the Serbousek Family Fund, a flexible, perpetual endowment that will award grants through the Community Enrichment Grants program each year for whatever urgent local needs and promising opportunities arise. The fund was established by Janie and Michael Serbousek of Martin’s Point.

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.

Special Focus Grants are also available this cycle, with dedicated funds set aside for animal welfare, health and wellness, aviation education, and opportunities for people with disabilities (both Dare and Currituck).

Prospective applicants are urged to review the grant guidelines online at www.obcf.org/grants, and then call the Community Foundation to discuss their ideas. The application deadline is Friday, April 27, 2018.

 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages $17 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 $8 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

 

Photo: The Board of the Outer Banks Community Foundation. From left to right: Back row: Clark Twiddy, Greg Honeycutt, Chris Seawell, John Tucker, Ray White, Scott Brown, Bruce Austin. Front row: Nancy Caviness, Teresa Osborne, Lynda Hester, Nancy Sugg, Jane Webster. Photograph by Biff Jennings, Shooters at the Beach.

Community Foundation Announces Marketing “Boot Camps” for Nonprofits

Thanks to popular demand, the Outer Banks Community Foundation is excited to announce two communications and marketing “boot camps” for local nonprofits.

The first class will be held on Thursday, April 5, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the College of the Albemarle’s Diane Baum St. Clair Technology Education Center at 132 Russell Twiford Road in Manteo. A similar, miniature-size boot camp will follow on Ocracoke Island on Friday, April 6, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Ocracoke Fire Station.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Led by Dawn Crawford and Sharon Bruce of BC/DC Ideas, the seminars will focus on marketing strategies for charitable nonprofits of all shapes and types. Both courses will cover communications planning, Gantt charts, brand realignment, and best practices for newsletters, social media, event promotions, media relations, and more.

“A strong communications plan will recruit more people to your nonprofit as donors, volunteers, and lifelong supporters,” said Ms. Crawford. “When you walk out of this class, you’ll have executable advice and tools to ensure everyone knows the story and mission of your nonprofit.”

“Last year, when we asked nonprofits to tell us their greatest training needs, marketing and communications were the most requested topics by far,” said Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “So we’re excited to offer these classes, which will give a broad overview of marketing and communications strategies for nonprofits of all sizes.”

“Normally, for a course of this scope and caliber, a nonprofit would have to travel to Greenville or Raleigh and pay tuition of $150 per person,” continued Ms. Costa. “It’s one of our goals at the Community Foundation to offer this level of training here on the Outer Banks, at an affordable cost, to help build skills and capacity in our local charitable sector. We’re particularly excited to be able to offer an encore seminar in Ocracoke, which is home to such a vibrant nonprofit community.”

Registration is required for the full-day class in Manteo and is only $15 per person for any board or staff member representing an Outer Banks charitable nonprofit. The registration fee includes a full lunch and morning coffee. Please register for the Manteo class by Sunday, April 1 to ensure your seat—and your lunch.

The Ocracoke seminar is FREE for any Outer Banks charitable nonprofit, but does not include a meal. Please register for the Ocracoke class by Thursday, April 5.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, BC/DC Ideas is a creative agency that specializes in nonprofit communications, marketing, and fundraising. Founded in 2010, their unique approach to communications creates interactivity and engagement with a nonprofit’s target audiences. Their leadership team has nearly 15 years of dedicated nonprofit communications experience, paired with a decade of corporate advertising experience. This combination allows them to think about the big picture with unique and creative tactics, all while scaling projects for nonprofit budgets.

 

 

 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages $17 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 $8 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

Community Foundation Elects New Board and Honors 2018 Champion

The Outer Banks Community Foundation announced the winners of its Champion Award and its Nonprofit Video Contest at the organization’s annual meeting last month. Two new board members were elected by the organization’s members, and two departing board members were honored.

About 150 guests celebrated $750,000 in grants and scholarships awarded to the Outer Banks in 2017, and $8 million awarded since the Community Foundation’s establishment in 1982.

The event featured an exhibit by the Dare County Arts Council from its Power of Art Program, which was established in part by a grant from the Community Foundation. Power of Art serves special groups in need, including people with otherwise limited access to arts programming and education. The exhibit featured paintings, masks, poetry, jewelry, essays, and other works by artists from GEM, Monarch Beach Club, and the Veterans Writing Project.

After guests enjoyed a delicious lunch, Lorelei Costa, the Community Foundation’s executive director, described the 19 new endowments established in 2017, and said that each fund would be invested in perpetuity to award grants and scholarships to the Outer Banks for generations to come. She also talked about the Community Foundation’s unifying role, bringing together people from all backgrounds and beliefs to work together to improve the community and help others.

Members of the Community Foundation unanimously elected two new directors for the organization’s board: Lynda Hester of Manteo, and John Tucker of Southern Shores. Mr. Tucker is a lifelong educator, while Ms. Hester is retired from the US Coast Guard and the College of the Albemarle; both have served in extensive leadership roles in the Outer Banks’s nonprofit sector.

Two outstanding board members were thanked for their service after reaching their maximum consecutive years of service: Loretta Michael of Southern Shores, who had served as the Community Foundation’s secretary, and Scott Leggat of Rodanthe, who had served as the grants chairman.

Mr. Leggat honored the grantees in attendance and announced over $600,000 in grants that were awarded in 2017. He also showed the winning videos from the Community Foundation’s annual contest. The Frisco Native American Museum came in first place, followed by Interfaith Community Outreach in second place, and Ocracoke Community Radio in third place. The winning videos, as well as all of the entries from this year and past years, can be viewed by scrolling down and clicking play.

Scott Brown and Nancy Sugg, co-chairs of the scholarship committee, announced that the Community Foundation had awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to 80 deserving students in 2017. They shared photos, videos, and stories from recent scholarship recipients.

Finally, Jane Webster conferred the 2018 Champion Award posthumously to Warren Judge, the community leader who devoted his life to serving the Outer Banks, and especially its youth. Ms. Webster enumerated Mr. Judge’s many honors, appointments, accomplishments, and leadership roles, including his 16 years of service on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, his receipt of Dare County Citizen of the Year in 2011, and his receipt of the Order of the Longleaf Pine Award in 2016.

Tess Judge accepted the award, along with his son, Mike Dixon, and granddaughter, Elizabeth Dixon. Ms. Judge reminded the audience of one of Mr. Judge’s favorite sayings: “At the end of the day, we are all One Dare County.”

Finally, Teresa Osborne, the president of the Community Foundation, closed the meeting by sharing plans for the upcoming year, and with thanks for all donors, volunteers, and community partners.

 

Photo: The three living founders of the Outer Banks Community Foundation were reunited at the organization’s annual meeting in February. From the left: Ray White, Edward Greene, and Jack Adams. Photograph by Biff Jennings, Shooters on the Beach.

 

Below: Press play to watch all of the videos ever submitted to our video contest since 2012!


The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages $17 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 $8 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

 

New Scholarships Honor Beloved Parents

Overseeing almost 50 scholarship programs and with a history of working with the community to help students reach for their dreams, the Outer Banks Community Foundation has been awarding scholarships to students since its founding in 1982.

The scholarship program has grown every year since the first scholarships—the Inez Daniels Austin Scholarship and the George W. Neighbors Memorial Scholarship—were awarded in the early years, awarding $154,000 in scholarships in 2017.

For many the scholarships are a way to remember a parent, or spouse or a son or daughter who was passed away, and in remembering them, honoring a legacy of caring.

Billy McOwen and his wife, Monica, recently created the Jeannette U. McOwen Memorial Scholarship Fund as a way to celebrate his mother, who taught in some of Cincinnati’s most troubled schools.

“My mom was a teacher and became a single mother and she raised us on a teacher’s salary,” McOwen said.

For him the scholarship represents a way to remember his mother and show his appreciation for the Outer Banks community.

“My son grew up having really good teachers here in Dare County,” McOwen said. “It just made sense for us. I could find a way to honor my mother in perpetuity and also create a scholarship fund that would be to the benefit of people locally that were interested in becoming teachers.”

The fund, which will be administered in partnership with Manteo Rotary, will enable students to continue to use the scholarship over a number of years, according to McOwen.

“The one thing in talking to Lorelei (Costa, Community Foundation Executive Director) in how we could do this, the second year, third year, fourth year, we didn’t want to keep it for just the first year. We kept it open so that people could even get it for their graduate years,” he said.

The McOwen Scholarship is not the only scholarship that is being introduced this year. The Lillian W. Riddick Scholarship for Nurses is also new, and also named for a parent.

Lillian Riddick did not become a nurse until she was in her 50s following her husband’s death. After earning her nursing degree she went to Africa where she served until failing health forced her to retire.

Like the McOwen Scholarship, the Lillian Riddick Scholarship for Nurses is a way to honor the love and dedication to family and the community. Similar to the McOwen Scholarship, it can be renewed as a student goes through their college career.

If the scholarship funds represent a way to pass along a legacy for the donors, for the students who have earned the awards it is a chance to experience everything that college life has to offer.

The Milton A. Jewell Academic Scholarship is the most prestigious Community Foundation scholarship, offering students a four-year grant of $6,000 per year, provided they maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Attending Cornell University, 2017 Jewell Scholar, Sarah Skinner, seems to be living a dream.

“I absolutely adore the place I am going to school,” she told the Community Foundation. “The campus is beautiful, the people around me are exposing me to new and different ways of seeing the world, and the opportunities available are truly awesome.”

In spite of a heavy academic workload, Skinner found time to join the staff of the Cornell Daily Sun, which, as she points out, is the oldest independent college newspaper in the nation, and because she is on the staff of the paper she has had opportunities that can have a lifelong impact.

“Working on the Sun has been an amazing experience,” she said. “And it allowed me to attend a news writing workshop with Pulitzer Prize winner, and Sun alum, Jay Branagan.”

Sawyer Scholar Christian Eberhard is majoring in film studies at American University in Washington, DC. His experiences at the college are what make attending school so important in learning about the world around us.

“When I got there, I was worried that I would be all by myself but it was only a few days before I started to make some really good friends,” he writes.

Active in theater when he was a student at First Flight High School, Eberhard is taking full advantage of what the school has to offer.

“My favorite club… is American University-TV’s sketch comedy show The Break. My friend Eli and I joined the club together, and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve had,” he writes, adding, “As a film major, it’s really great to have this hands-on work and experience which the club provides.”

The stories Skinner and Eberhard tell are what makes the college experience so important, and the support the Outer Banks community has given the students over the years has helped to create a healthy, thriving community.

“Each of our 50 scholarships has a story about the donors who created them and, often, the people who inspired our donors,” Community Foundation Executive Director Lorelei Costa said. “It’s an honor for us to steward these legacies and support the amazing students who receive the awards.”

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications online. The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm, Sunday, March 25, 2018. Students may go to www.obcf.org to start their application.

 

Photo: The Jeannette U. McOwen Memorial Scholarship is one of the Outer Banks Community Foundation’s newest scholarships, created by Billy and Monica McOwen (third and fifth from the left) as a way to celebrate his mother, who taught in some of Cincinnati’s most troubled schools. Photograph by Deborah Sawyer.

Scholarship Application Deadline March 25!

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications online. The application deadline is 11:59 pm, Sunday, March 25, 2018.

When students click on our online launch site, they will begin the process by creating a user name and password (be sure to save!) and completing a short questionnaire, which quickly and easily directs them to the scholarships for which they’re eligible.

From there, students complete one common application, upload one transcript, submit any required essays, and apply for all Community Foundation scholarships for which they are eligible, all in one place. Teachers and community members can provide confidential recommendations online, without having to make multiple copies for multiple applications.

Though many of the Community Foundation’s scholarships are merit-based, the majority of awards consider financial need. For the need-based awards, students are required to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and upload the resulting Student Aid Report into their application.

Students are encouraged to start now. Again, our application closes on Sunday, March 25 at 11:59pm and we do not provide any extensions. All scholarship winners will be announced at their school’s Senior Awards Night in May or June.

Charity and the New Tax Law (Yes, You Can Still Give and Be Smart!)

By Lorelei Costa

Note: This article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve just started the tedious task of collecting your paperwork for tax season. Not my favorite chore, but a necessary one. Maybe, like me, among your papers are a few letters from various charities telling you that your donations last year were tax-deductible. And maybe you are wondering, will the new tax bill change that in the future? Will there be any tax benefit to giving in 2018?

At the Outer Banks Community Foundation, we are getting these exact questions from donors. Nonprofits are calling us, too, wondering whether they should expect a huge drop in donations starting this year. There has been so much confusion about philanthropy and the new tax bill, that I thought I’d try to address some of the biggest issues here. Keep in mind, too, that most of the changes go into effect in 2018, so the return you’re completing now for 2017 will be very similar to previous years.

First and foremost: Yes, for 2018 you will still be able to deduct your charitable donations! This vital part of our tax system will continue to benefit many folks who choose to give to charity.

That said, next year some tax-payers will find greater advantage in choosing the standard deduction, rather than itemizing charitable gifts and other deductions. That’s because the new tax law has essentially doubled the standard deduction for most Americans.

Will charities see a dramatic decline in donations? Hard to tell, but I will say this: about two-thirds of all Americans contribute to charity, and at least half of them do so without itemizing their donations. I believe people give when a charity touches their heart, when they see a nonprofit doing good things for the world. Here on the Outer Banks, we are a generous community, and I think people here often give for no benefit, without recognition, just because they want to help people.

Now, no one wants to pay more taxes than they have to, so even if you don’t think you’ll itemize on your 2018 return, there are still some nifty strategies that may help your tax bill. Talk to your accountant now to see if you should use any of these strategies this year.

IRA Rollover Contributions: This is a good one. If you are age 70½ or older and you have an IRA, consider donating to your favorite charities directly from your IRA. This is a fantastic strategy whether you are itemizing or not; that’s because if you donate directly from your IRA to charity, the money is never even added to your income to begin with, yielding a much better bottom line on your tax return. Donating from your IRA might even reduce your income enough to put you in a different tax bracket—meaning a lower overall tax rate! Best of all, donations from your IRA count toward your required minimum distribution, which is great news if you don’t need your IRA for income right now, but are forced to take a distribution because of your age. Remember, for this strategy to work, your IRA has to write the check directly to your charity.

Gifts of Stock or Real Estate: If you are blessed to have a portfolio that includes a variety of resources, consider gifts of appreciated assets, like securities or property. Donating your appreciated assets may help you avoid the capital gains tax (which, incidentally, did not decrease one iota with the new tax law), which is true even if you don’t itemize. Ask your accountant if you’d benefit from shifting some of your donations from cash to stocks or real estate.

Gift Bundling: Perhaps you contribute annually to charity, and perhaps your budget is somewhat flexible. Consider bundling the donations you might have made over two or more years into one gift in one year. By combining them into one tax period, it’s possible they could qualify for itemization. The new tax bill gives you greater accommodation to do this; the law now allows you to deduct up to 60% of your adjusted gross income for cash gifts, which is up from 50% in 2017. (Half of those gifts—up to 30% of your AGI—can be made with appreciated securities, which avoids capital gains tax as well.) And remember that if your contributions exceed this limit, you can still carry them forward and apply the deduction over five years.

If the bundling strategy appeals to you, consider using those combined donations to start a Donor-Advised Fund with the Outer Banks Community Foundation. Donor-Advised Funds are legacy endowments that you can use to benefit your favorite charities for many years to come. We set up a special fund in the name of your choosing (it can be your name, the name of your family or business, or the name of a loved one), and you recommend grants from your fund each year. It’s like a private foundation, but with no excise tax, lower administrative fees, and a much more affordable minimum.

There’s one last major change to the tax law that may affect your philanthropy, and that’s the doubling of the estate tax exemption, from $5.6 million per person to $11.2 million. Additionally, the threshold for triggering a gift or generation-skipping tax has increased, as has the annual gift tax exclusion. This may sound like mumbo-jumbo, but this is a big deal for some families.

If this could affect your estate, be sure to meet with your advisors to discuss your plans accordingly. And if you’re redoing your plans, now’s the time to consider how a reduced tax bill could enable your family to make a planned gift that will help your community forever and establish your philanthropic legacy.

So, should you still give, in light of the new tax bill? Absolutely. For some donors, there are new giving strategies to consider that will take best advantage of the new tax law. And for all donors, please continue to support the charities that inspire you, that are making your community a better place to live, work, and play.

A Legacy of Caring

Story by Kip Tabb

As Bonnie Pfennighaus and Louise Baraw reflect upon their lives, an extraordinary story of giving back, of caring for others emerges. But for the longtime friends a lifetime of caring for people is not enough. Now retired and living in Southern Shores, they want to ensure their legacy will continue.

“We were modifying our wills, and our attorney, John Graham, said, ‘You were nurses for a long time, why don’t you use that money for a nursing scholarship,’ ” Bonnie recalled.

The result was a fund at the Outer Banks Community Foundation that will be endowed by their wills. “It will be a renewable scholarship,” Bonnie explained, “for a BS in nursing.”

The friends went beyond setting up an endowment for a nursing scholarship. They also have created legacy endowments through the Community Foundation in their wills for Food for Thought and the Outer Banks SPCA.

“That (endowments) was something that never crossed my mind,” Louise added.

Louise had been a pediatric nurse, Bonnie a critical care nurse when they lived in Boston. They came to their profession from different places, but for both, it was the opportunity to help others that seemed to motivate them.

“I knew I wanted to help take care of people,” Louise said. “I went to nursing school in Hannover, New Hampshire. Part of my affiliation was in Children’s Hospital in Boston. There was no question what I was going to do. I wanted to take care of kids. It was a heartbreakingly wonderful job. You had to remember that you could cry with the parents. You were still human.”

Bonnie seemed to almost stumble into nursing, finding an interest in medicine when her father forced her to take a job at age 17 in her hometown of Warren, Ohio. After sabotaging every option he suggested, he took her to the local hospital where an aunt worked.

There was no getting out of that, but to her surprise, “I loved it,” she recalled.

In 1980 they retired from nursing and began second careers as deputy sheriffs in Vermont.

“My dad got us into that. My dad was a deputy sheriff and my mom was a deputy in the courts,” Louise explains.

For the friends, after years of dealing with life and too often death, the new job was a relief.

“It was nice. We got kids in there we had to take care of and I knew that they weren’t going to die on me,” Louise said.

Although as deputies there were certain things they were supposed to do in certain ways, according to them, some rules were bent.

Often tasked with transporting patients to the state mental hospital, the regulations called for them to handcuff the person being transferred. The first person they transported after graduating from the police academy seems to have established how they were going to go about their job.

The assignment was on the Fourth of July and it was an elderly lady.

“We had to pick her up and drive her from St. Johnsbury to Waterbury, which is the mental hospital,” Louise said. “So they asked us, ‘Do you have the handcuffs?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have them right here.’ We put the handcuffs on her, got out of the driveway and took off the handcuffs.”

As they were driving they came to Montpelier. “Oh,” said the elderly woman. “Could we watch the fireworks?”

“We did stop in Montpelier so we could watch the fireworks,” Bonnie said.

“We had such a good time with her,” Louise said.

The stories they tell of their time as deputies are filled with small kindnesses, of treating people as individuals and with dignity.

“You cannot act like somebody you’re not,” Louise said.

In 1996 the friends retired and moved to the Outer Banks. Over the years they have volunteered for a number of community causes, including the Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Department, their church, Kitty Hawk United Methodist, and Food for Thought, a volunteer organization that packs lunches for Dare County school children.

The act of giving back—of assuring that their legacy of caring will continue—has become important to the two of them.

“If I should die tomorrow, God forbid, I want something that says, ‘Here it is. Let’s do this,’ ” Louise said.

 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages $17 million in 175 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards 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 $8 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

Anyone can start a legacy fund with the Outer Banks Community Foundation. For more information about starting a fund, please see www.obcf.org/giving/create-a-fund. For more information about planned gifts, see www.obcf.org/giving/david-stick-legacy-society.