One person’s vision for philanthropy can change a community

by Leslie Ann Jackson

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the lovely town of Edenton, home to one of our local affiliate foundations, the Chowan Community Funds Foundation. I was there to spend some time with Natalie Jenkins Peel, our regional director serving the community, and to pay a visit to the Boys & Girls Club of Edenton.

Natalie loves her communities, and she always wants to make the most of visits to her region. So, she arranged a tour of the Boys & Girls Club, including a venture to the club’s future space, which will hold a Teen Center, supported by a grant from the Louise Oriole Burevitch Endowment.

What the Boys & Girls Club is doing in this community is truly unique. They’re converting an abandoned school into a teen center that will be close to the College of the Albemarle and the local school. The plan is to leverage this new space to attract teens for job skills programs, leadership opportunities and more for local youth.

If I were making a photo album of my trip, the highlight snapshots would include:

  • Local townspeople stopping by our table at lunch to say hello, including an affiliate board member who happened to be there
  • The wide open spaces filled with sunshine and blue sky on the drive out to the club
  • Club staff exuding pride showing us around the clubhouse and bursting with anticipation for the children’s after-school arrival
  • Witnessing the transformation of a building under construction. Hallways full of dust and rubble that will be clean, shiny, and bursting with energy one day
  • The culminating conversation with visionary executive director, Elizabeth Mitchell, who can see the promise that this project holds for the youth of Edenton

Talking with Elizabeth is profoundly inspiring. What she is embarking on for the youth in her community is truly remarkable. When she talks about it, she is not overdone with enthusiasm and excitement. There is a sparkle in her eye for sure, but the feeling is much more matter-of-fact, as if to say “of course.” Of course, we should be seeing this project through for the youth of this town. Elizabeth graciously shared that the work would not be possible without support from the Burevitch Endowment, which was encouraging to hear and a powerful reminder of the importance of this fund.

2. It was also a moment to reflect on the simple reality that the person who made it possible was not standing there in the parking lot outside of the soon-to-be thriving teen center. Louise Oriole Burevitch has left his world, but her deep kindness and generosity lives on in eastern NC. She is the one who continues to make things possible through her endowment.

The Burevitch Endowment is truly a wonderful example of the impact philanthropy can have on communities for generations to come when people – like Elizabeth and like Mrs. Burevitch - who are passionate about their neighbors act to ensure they’ll be supported for the future.

As we’re opening the Endowment’s competitive grants cycle again this year, I’m thinking a lot about Mrs. B’s intentions for her fund, the ways it could help the people and communities of eastern NC and the trust she had in us to carry that work out into the future. Through this program, her legacy of generosity will live on for generations, and we are ever-grateful.

One last snapshot for the album –driving by the water on my way out of town. (I can never resist the sights and sounds of the water.) Until next time, Edenton.