Outer Banks Community Foundation Funds COA Scholarship

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is helping College of The Albemarle Workforce Development and Continuing Education students by underwriting the Milton Jewel Trade and Technical Scholarship program. With the help of funds provided by the Outer Banks Community Foundation, COA has been able to award approximately 205 scholarships with the nearly $40,000 provided since the scholarship’s inception in July 2009. The Community Foundation has generously provided $10,000 for the current academic year.

The Milton A. Jewell Scholarship Fund was established by the Outer Banks Community Foundation in 2003 with a bequest from Ruth Medgyes, a former Southern Shores resident, who wanted to honor her grandfather and help local students attend college. In 2009, the Outer Banks Community Foundation designated up to $10,000 for scholarships for students at the College of The Albemarle taking  trade or technical courses that could lead to a job or career that reside in Dare County or Ocracoke.

Lorelei Costa, Executive Director of the Community Foundation stated, “The Outer Banks Community Foundation is honored to partner with COA again this year by underwriting the Milton Jewell Trade and Technical Scholarship Program. Most of the Dare County students that are assisted by this scholarship are mid-career adults; the scholarships enable them to launch new careers or advance in an existing career. The local economic impact of this scholarship program is immeasurable, and we are proud to support this program.”

For information about College of The Albemarle’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education Classes offered in Dare County, please call 252-475-9250 or visit www.albemarle.edu and click on Workforce Development & Continuing Ed. For information about the Outer Banks Community Foundation, please call 252-261-8839 or visit www.obcf.org.

Golfing for Grants: Kelly Family Knows the Art of Giving

By Sandy Semans Ross

Some folks get testy or cling to their wallets if a charitable gift is suggested. Nags Head businessman Mike Kelly just brushes off his golf clubs.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Kelly Hospitality Group Charity Golf Tournament, the fundraiser that supports the Kelly Family Fund, part of the Outer Banks Community Foundation. Scheduled this year for Monday, October 21 at Nags Head Golf Links, all proceeds from the golf tournament are donated to the charitable fund.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation manages more than 100 charitable funds for various families, businesses, and organizations across the Outer Banks, and the Kelly Family Fund, established in 1994, was its first donor-advised fund. While some Community Foundation donors set general criteria for their funds and ask the Community Foundation to select grant recipients, the Kelly family makes their own recommendations about where and how their charitable donations are handled.

Kelly held his inaugural golf tournament in October 1993. “When we reached $50,000 in the fund in 1997, we began to give grants,” said Kelly.

The first grants were to the Dare County Youth Center, the Dare County Arts Council, and the Friends of Jockey’s Ridge. Since that time, the Kelly Family Fund has awarded grants to a broad spectrum of nonprofits, ranging from the Boy Scouts and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, to the Dare Education Foundation and the Community Care Clinic.

“I was involved with the Community Foundation and learned a lot about the needs in Dare County,” said Kelly. “The idea sort of got planted in my head, and I wanted to create something so that the money stays in this area. As the county began to grow and prosper, outside charities began to fundraise here and then take the money out of the area.”

In addition to Mike, fund advisors include his wife Willo, his daughters Juliane Kelly of New York City and Elizabeth Reilly of Nags Head, and Elizabeth’s husband Ben.

Since its first tee-off in 1993, the golf tournament has raised more than $300,000 for the Kelly Family Fund. In turn the fund has already distributed $200,000 in grants — usually ranging in amounts from $500 to $5,000. Only a portion of the fund balance is awarded each year; the Community Foundation invests the principal of the fund for growth so that the fund can make grants into perpetuity.

Mike Kelly said that it is rewarding to help the area’s many nonprofits.

“In the beginning, our grant to a nonprofit may be giving it life and, later on, help it continue to grow.

“Working with the fund has kept my daughters involved in the community and aware of needs. You begin to tune in and pay more attention. For instance, I was at a Nags Head meeting one time when Gail Leonard gave a presentation about Room at the Inn and asked for a donation of $500. I had never heard of it and, following the meeting, I visited with her about it and I told her how to make a request from our fund. Since then, we have given to them annually.”

He also hears more about the needs of the community at Rotary Club meetings. “We’ve also begun to ask more questions about the best way to help nonprofit organizations.”

“The Outer Banks Community Foundation has done a great job managing our money for a nominal fee and providing the accounting we need,” said Kelly.

Kelly said that anyone can help fill the needs of the community. “Those who want to give don’t have to pull it out of their own pocket,” he said. “They can just come up with an idea for a fundraising event.”

But for those who do want to give, or at least play some golf on October 21, it’s not too late to sign up to play or sponsor the event. Teams and individual players can sign up online at www.kellysrestaurant.com (follow the link on the right for the golf tournament).

This year’s early sponsors include Atlantic Sewage OBX, Ben Franklin, Coastal Impressions, Midgett Insurance Agency, Nags Head Inn, Outer Banks Chevrolet Buick, Outer Banks Hospital, Sunny Day, and Sysco Foods. There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities still available; call Becky Miller for details at 252-256-2007.

For more information about donor-advised funds or other charitable giving options, call the Outer Banks Community Foundation at 252-261-8839.

Dare Sheriff’s Camp S.A.L.T. Program Awarded Outer Banks Community Foundation Grant

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has awarded a grant to the Dare County Sheriff’s Office to purchase equipment for their Camp S.A.L.T. summer camp program. Camp S.A.L.T. is a summer camp that is held at the Sheriff’s Office Alpine Tower for 8 weeks each summer. Campers participate in various activities during the camp, including field trips to local attractions, swimming and fishing. The centerpiece of the camp is the exposure to the Alpine Tower. The Tower is a freestanding 50 foot tall structure that provides unique challenges and team building experiences for campers. Campers, assisted by certified instructors, climb various parts of the Tower, while fellow campers assist the instructors. Campers learn to depend on their peers, who work the safety ropes along with the instructors. During these activities, campers must be outfitted with the proper safety equipment. This equipment includes ropes, harnesses and safety helmets. These items were what were purchased with the Grant funds.

Sheriff Doug Doughtie stated: “We certainly appreciate the kindness shown to our summer camp program by the Outer Banks Community Foundation. We want Dare County Youth to be a part of an experience that increases their self-esteem and fosters trust and respect for their peers. The Alpine Tower offers them this type of experience. They learn to depend on their adult instructors and their fellow campers, and will take these skills and experiences with them as they grow and mature. “

“The Outer Banks Community Foundation is honored for the opportunity to support Camp S.A.L.T.,” said Lorelei Costa, Executive Director of the Foundation. “This wonderful camp is free of charge to any Dare County youth, and we’re excited to help make that possible by underwriting the costs of the essential climbing and safety equipment.

Community Foundation Awards $115,000 in Scholarships

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has awarded $115,000 in scholarships to 54 graduating seniors and college students from Dare and Currituck Counties, including the prestigious Milton A. Jewell Scholarship.

At the senior awards ceremonies for First Flight High School, Manteo High School, Currituck High School, and Cape Hatteras Secondary School, 33 graduating seniors received 50 discrete scholarship awards totaling $65,000. Thirteen of those awards are renewable (contingent on the student’s college GPA and continued full-time enrollment), representing an additional $76,200 in future awards.

In addition, 22 college students — all originally from First Flight, Manteo, Currituck, or Cape Hatteras — received renewed scholarships this spring, totaling another $40,000.

The Community Foundation broke tradition and announced two new Milton A. Jewell Scholarships this year, to Zack Owen and Kermit Farrow, the valedictorians of their graduating classes from First Flight High School and Cape Hatteras Secondary School, respectively.

The Milton A. Jewell Award is the Community Foundation’s most prestigious merit-based scholarship, established by bequest by the late Ruth Medgyes of Southern Shores as a memorial to her grandfather. These $5,000 renewable awards are granted to students with extraordinary academic achievement and outstanding community service. Mr. Owen is an Eagle Scout, while Mr. Farrow is a volunteer for the Frisco Volunteer Fire Department; both young men contributed over 400 volunteer hours last year.

In addition to the merit-based academic scholarships, the Community Foundation is also setting aside an additional $10,000 from the Milton A. Jewell Scholarship Fund for need-based adult scholarships for trade and technical courses at College of the Albemarle.

Also awarded this year were the Sawyer Scholarship and the Jerry and Arlene Davis Scholarship, presented to Aaron Zeigler and Charles Shotton, respectively, both graduating seniors from First Flight High School. These two renewable, $5,000 scholarships reward positive work ethic and good academic standing; they are intended to help students achieve educational dreams that might not otherwise be possible.

The Community Foundation manages scholarship funds not only for families but also for a dozen local businesses, civic organizations, churches, local governments, and nonprofits, including the Outer Banks Association of Realtors, the College of the Albemarle Foundation, First Flight Society, Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, Dare Community Crime Line, the Duck Woods Ladies Tennis and Golf Associations, and the North Banks, Manteo, and First Flight Rotary clubs.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is open to anyone who wishes to establish a scholarship endowment or contribute to one of our existing scholarship funds. The Community Foundation has awarded more than $1,200,000 in awards to over 1,000 Outer Banks students since the organization’s inception in 1983. For more information, call 252-261-8839.

Catherine Carrington Clawson Scholarship
John Robinson: $1,400 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Charles H. & Dorothy S. Luedemann Art Scholarship
John Blackstock: $500 (First Flight Class of 2010)
Heidi Brothers: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2012)
Colin Conners: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2010)
Amelia Kasten: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)
Morgan Leatherwood: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)
Shelby Matthews: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2012)
Nic Nelson: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)
Austin Pickens: $1,000 renewable (Manteo Class of 2013)
John Robinson: $1,000 renewable (Manteo Class of 2013)
Andrew Sanchez: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)
Elke Talbot: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2010)

Courtney M. Burgess Memorial Scholarship
Rachel Dutton: $1,000 renewable (Manteo Class of 2012)
Sara Seto: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2012)

Curtis Creech Memorial Scholarship
Julie Klair Simansky: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Dare Community Crime Line Scholarship
Jonathan Meads: $550 (First Flight Class of 2011)

Dare County Association of Fire Officers Scholarship
Jarrett Davis: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Kermit Farrow: $1,000 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)
Colby Sawyer: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Dare County Outer Banks Jaycees Scholarship
Cheyanne Wescott: $500 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Dare Math/Science Scholarship
Caroline Lowcher: $1,000 renewable (Manteo Class of 2011)

Duck Woods Ladies Tennis Association Scholarship
Lily Bagwell: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Elmer & Betty Jo Sawyer Scholarship
Margaret Easley: $700 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2012)
Mabel Soe: $700 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)

First Flight Society Scholarship
Kyle Andrews: $500 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Founders Scholarship (Duck Woods Ladies Golf Association)
Marley Felthousen: $1,800 (Currituck Class of 2013)

Frank M. Cahoon Memorial Scholarship
Ashton Harrell: $700 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Cheyanne Wescott: $700 (Manteo Class of 2013)

George W. Neighbors Memorial Scholarship
Daniel Martin: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)

Glenn Eure Endowment Fund for Arts Education
Andrew Sanchez: $900 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Greg & Eden Honeycutt Scholarship
Jordan Mugford: $2,000 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)

Inez Daniels Austin Scholarship
Alissa Oberbeck: $2,000 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)

Jerry & Arlene Davis Scholarship
Charles Shotton: $5,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)
William Smith: $5,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2011)
Hunter Wright: $2,500 renewable (Manteo Class of 2012)
Susan Yangsteadt: $5,000 (First Flight Class of 2010)

John T. Daniels Scholarship
Barbara Olbrichova: $1,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2011)

Kellogg Cuthrell Manteo Rotary Scholarship
Nic Nelson: $500 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Charles Shotton: $500 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Kiwanis Leo Sheetz Memorial Scholarship
Wesley Rawles: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Cheyanne Wescott: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Lacy J. McNeill First Flight Rotary Scholarship
Megan Greer: $800 (Manteo Class of 2013)
Madison Maher: $800 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Lucian Griffin Scholarship
Tyler Grandy: $1,000 (Currituck Class of 2013)

Mabel O. Cooper Scholarship
Mitchell Foster: $1,500 renewable (First Flight Class of 2012)
Taylor Swankie: $1,500 renewable (First Flight Class of 2011)
Cheyanne Wescott: $1,500 renewable (Manteo Class of 2013)
Susan Yangsteadt: $1,500 (First Flight Class of 2010)

Milton A. Jewell Scholarship
College of the Albemarle: $10,000 for need-based trade and technical scholarships
Jennifer Bryson: $5,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2011)
Kermit Farrow: $5,000 renewable (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)
Richard Murphy: $5,000 renewable (Manteo Class of 2012)
Zachary Owen: $5,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)

North Banks Rotary Scholarship
Lily Bagwell: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)
Ashton Harrell: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Daniel Martin: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Julie Klair Simansky: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)
Aaron Zeigler: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Outer Banks Association of Realtors Scholarship
Lily Bagwell: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)
Sherif Hysa: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2010)
Timothy Jordan: $500 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)
Isaiah Lowe: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Katelyn Monday: $1,000 (Manteo Class of 2013)
Sabrina Ramirez: $500 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Aaron Zeigler: $1,000 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Peggy O’Brien Scholarship
Leighanne Davis: $1,000 renewable (Currituck Class of 2012)

Robert E. Rollason, Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Kaitlyn Odell: $1,200 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Sawyer Scholarship
Aaron Zeigler: $5,000 renewable (First Flight Class of 2013)

Sgt. Earl Murray Memorial Scholarship
London Davenport: $250 (First Flight Class of 2013)
Jarrett Davis: $250 (First Flight Class of 2013)

Stewart Couch Memorial Scholarship
Timothy Jordan: $1,000 (Cape Hatteras Class of 2013)

Tom O’Brien Scholarship
Tucker Jarvis: $1,000 renewable (Currituck Class of 2012)

Wallace H. McCown Scholarship
Nicholas Sorenson: $2,200 (Manteo Class of 2013)

Mystery Donor Bequeathed Largest Gift in Foundation History

By Sandy Semans Ross

The 30-year history of the Outer Banks Community Foundation is full of stories that tug at the heart, demonstrate the community’s character, and show how small monetary gifts can change lives. But no history would be complete without a little mystery and perhaps even a great love story, and that, too, is found in the Community Foundation’s archives.

In May 2003, the Community Foundation received its largest donation ever — $1.621 million bequeathed to the organization via the will of a local woman, Ruth Jewell Kennedy Medgyes. The Community Foundation invested Ms. Medgyes’s extraordinary bequest into three separate permanent endowment funds for long-term growth and philanthropy.

While the principal of these endowment funds continues to grow, the earnings have already benefited the Outer Banks tremendously. The Milton A. Jewell Grant Fund has awarded almost $224,000 to organizations as diverse as the Lost Colony, the Outer Banks SPCA, and Hatteras Island Meals. The Milton A. Jewell Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships, helping more than 100 local students attend college. In addition, a portion of Ms. Medgyes’s gift was also used to establish an operating endowment for the Community Foundation.

Yet at the time of this wonderful gift, Ruth was unknown completely to the Community Foundation’s board of directors.

After moving to the Outer Banks, Ruth led a somewhat frugal life and was not a social gadfly. She had contact with some neighbors and a few others but did not socialize much beyond that. Friends described her as a petite, unassuming, pleasant woman.

Jim Wood, a local bank trust officer, was called on by Ruth to help her invest and manage the money that she had saved for retirement. While working together to protect and stretch her dollars, one day she informed him that she had inherited a large amount of money. She said that she would never be able to spend it all, so she wanted to give it away and needed his help.

Wood was tasked with finding organizations and individuals needing financial help and who were worthy of a helping hand. Over the next few years, according to research done by the late David Stick, Ward said that she gave about $350,000 to $400,000 to various causes and individuals. She wanted no one to know of her inheritance or that she was providing the monetary gifts.

Among the recipients were Hotline, the Community Foundation, Kitty Hawk Police Department, and various individuals such as a young woman who had to quit college so she could work to support herself and child following a divorce. According to Ward, the anonymous checks made it possible for her to finish her education and included a little extra for spending money. A restaurant employee who fell on bad times was given several thousand dollars to help him get back on his feet. And there was the check for $25,000 to a hospital to pay a bill for a friend who could have never paid the debt.

Before her death in January 1997, Ruth wrote her will and in it, she instructed that the Ruth K. Medgyes Charitable Remainder Unitrust be set up with certain assets of her estate. Initially, the trust provided for the care of a longtime friend until her death. When the friend died, 10 percent of the remaining funds were to go to Outer Banks Hotline and the remaining 90 percent to the Community Foundation to manage, invest and do mostly what it chose to do, as long as a portion of it provided college scholarships for Dare County students. The new Community Foundation fund was to be named after her grandfather, Milton A. Jewell (photograph attached).

In 2005, Stick attempted to write a biography of the donor based on information gleaned from those who knew her during the 20-odd years that she resided in Southern Shores. But Ruth was a private woman who shared little of her life story and left much to the imagination.

Using Stick’s work as a starting point and doing additional research, more is now known about the quiet philanthropist. As more facts have emerged, the picture has changed, from the frugal woman who lived a modest, low-income life, to a picture of a person who — at least at times in her life — probably enjoyed a certain amount of privilege and class.

Ruth Jewell Kennedy, born in 1909 in Portland, Maine to Frederick and Marian (aka Marion) Kennedy, was named after an older sister who died within a few days of birth in 1907.

The 1910 US Census records indicate that infant Ruth, her parents and a maid lived together in Portland, but the 1920 Census placed the small family in the home of the grandparents — Milton and Hannah Jewell — who also had a live-in maid.

Ruth attended schools in Portland and graduated from high school in 1927. Before entering Vassar College that fall, she visited Paris, perhaps as a graduation present.

Coincidently, that same year, artist and designer Ladislas Medgyes — the man destined to become her husband 25 years later — was operating a theater set design school in Paris. Later that fall, he was a lecturer at Vassar where she was then a freshman. The records don’t reveal whether Ruth and Medgyes met on either of those occasions.

Graduating from the prestigious women’s college in 1930, Ruth then enrolled in Columbia University where she earned a degree in library science.

The 1930 Census lists her mother as living with the grandparents, but Ruth and her father were no longer in the household. Some records indicate that Frederick Kennedy died about a decade later in California.

Her life remains a mystery after her graduation from Columbia, until 1940, when the federal census listed her as divorced and living in a hotel for women in New York City. Single women often lived in such accommodations at that time due to financial constraints brought on by the Great Depression.

According to her obituary, she performed editorial work for the American Institute of Banking, probably in the 1940s.

Her obituary also states that she was the manager of the Pierce-Collier Travel Agency in New York City. The agency formed in 1950, and passenger records show that Ruth took a cruise in August of that same year. Travel agents frequently received deeply discounted rates in exchange for promoting specific passenger liners.

According to Stick’s report, friends told him that Ruth said that she met Medgyes on a cruise and that it was love at first sight. By the time they reached port, they were engaged, but she said that he died on their wedding night. “I was robbed,” she is quoted as saying about the man she described as the love of her life.

That shipboard romance appears to have occurred on a cruise she took in August 1951. The passenger list for that trip has her as Ruth Kennedy — that is the last found record of her using her maiden name. Her obituary states that she married Medgyes in 1952.

Her late husband’s life also seems hidden in the shadows. Records indicate that after he arrived in 1927, Medgyes began calling New York City home. With the economic downturn in Europe and given the fact he was a Hungarian Jew, Medgyes might have felt safer in the US than in his homeland or elsewhere in Europe.

At the age of 49, in 1942, Medgyes registered for the US military draft and four years later, he was registered for naturalized naturalization. As a contact person who would always know where he was, he listed the famous cosmetics mogul Helena Rubenstein.

Although his professional background was theater set design, he also was an artist and designed acrylic furniture for Rubenstein. His life via public records is sketchy but one critic of his work described him as being one of the happiest and most out-going people he had ever known.

Within months of the 1951 cruise, a Social Security card was issued to Ruth Kennedy Medgyes; her marital status had changed. She was a frequent traveler and passenger manifests, beginning in August 1952, listed her as Ruth Kennedy Medgyes.

Stick’s investigation stated that when she retired, it was after working as a librarian. That stage of her life probably began in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. Seeing the world was still important to her and according to Stick’s report, after leaving the New York library system, she enjoyed taking organized travel cruises.

In an interview Stick had with jewelry designer Gail Kowalski, the jewelry designer told him that Ruth asked for her help in selling a ring that was from the Russian Crown Jewels. Kowalski directed her to an appropriate auction house but the question of how Ruth came to own the ring is still unknown.

But while there is still an air of mystery surrounding Ruth’s life, one thing is undeniably true — she was a generous, caring person who both during and after her life helped many with both their burdens and their dreams.