Notes from the road

by Natalie Jenkins Peel

Hyde County is a special place. Those that know it, know this is a fact!

Getting there is the part that I cherish, the protected refuge that will never see development, the two-lane road that is yours alone…

When you are driving through Lake Mattamaskeet, which is the largest natural lake in the state of North Carolina, you feel like you are floating on water.

I love Hyde County for so many reasons.

Growing up, Ocracoke was a summering place for my family. My grandparents knew the locals and we were taught to appreciate every part of the sacred island, especially those that called it home.

These days, it's mainland Hyde that has my affection.

On my most recent trip to be with the Beaufort-Hyde Community Foundation, I saw a bear cub, three blue herons and an elderly lady hanging her sheets on a clothesline. The honeysuckle fragrance that engulfed my car through the vents was overwhelming and blissful and put a smile on my face immediately. I also had a personal agenda of taking home soft-shell crabs for my husband.

I appreciated being witness to these things on my journey to this slice of heaven because I love that all these things still exist in a world of changing environments.

This meeting was a special one, not only because the board was deciding on their annual community grants, but they had an important presentation on the agenda, and it wasn’t just finding some softshell crabs!

The meeting started with an introduction of two new fundholders, Clare and Walter Baum. The Baum’s are lovely and every time we get to see each other, it is such a treat! In our time together, we talk about many things, most of them include our commonality of loving eastern NC and the people that we know in common. At our last gathering, we talked about the work of the BHCF affiliate and the Baum’s wishes for a relationship with the board.

Because, as you see, one of NCCF’s most important asset is our affiliate network like the Beaufort-Hyde Community Foundation. We’re lucky to have a tremendous resource in this local board that is comprised of community members that live, work and love both Hyde and Beaufort counties.

So here we are in beautiful Engelhard, meeting with the Baum’s at St. George’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1874. It is a beautiful old church that Walter grew up in.

Clare and Walter have established two funds that support their beloved parish, the Nancy Swindell Baum Memorial Endowment and the St. George's Episcopal Church Organ Endowment. Both important funds will provide annual grants that will preserve and maintain the 100-year old Hinners Pipe Organ that the Baum’s were instrumental in bringing to St. George’s.


Clare shared with the board the history of the organ down to the last key, she played for us and the joy on everyone’s face was evidence of our purpose in being there. Hearing from Walter about his latest historical preservation project, the Octagon House is what our work is about.

It’s relationships!

It’s relationships with people that care and love their communities and want to ensure those things are secured now and when they are no longer here. Having our Beaufort-Hyde Community Foundation affiliate in place enabled them to leave a legacy for the community they love. It is an honor to do that on their behalf.

The BHCF board departed saying it was their best meeting ever! And I must agree it was special, they now have a visual story to share about the Baum’s and two permanent endowed funds that will take care of the Hinner’s Pipe Organ at St. George’s in perpetuity so that they as board members can inspire others to think about taking care of their communities through a permanent endowment.

By the way, soft shells were on the dinner table that evening.

Thank you, Hyde County!