by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside
I had to climb under our house last weekend to check out a problem with our sump pump. Not that I would actually know how to fix it, but I convinced myself that I needed to understand the bigger issue, and get a real “lay of the land” so to speak. My husband was out of town, and I was determined that this was something I could handle on my own.
Once I was actually under the house on my hands and knees with a flashlight tucked in my armpit, I realized once again that I had over-estimated my abilities. It was dark and dank and a bit damp down there, and our previous encounters with animals in our attic have made me quite aware that creatures lurk everywhere on our property. What the heck was I thinking? And I could not help but wonder if this was what is termed a pretty high-level problem.
Then I thought about those who really had a high-level problem. A faulty sump pump is merely an inconvenience. But a house that is uninhabitable because of flooding and mold and destruction is truly devastating.
Thousands of our neighbors in eastern North Carolina are still out of their homes, displaced by Hurricane Matthew and related flooding. They are living with other folks, in temporary housing, in hotels -- trying to get through all the steps necessary to find a permanent place to live.
Disaster relief is an opportunity for each of us to learn more about the challenges our neighbors are facing, and for many of us to flex our philanthropic muscle. Many of you already have donated to the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund, and for this we thank you. Contributions topping $720,000 have been made to our disaster relief fund to support eastern North Carolina in recovery efforts.
That may sound like a lot, but it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket of what will be needed for recovery, which is estimated in terms of billions of dollars and multiple years.
We expect to raise more in the coming months, as Duke Energy has just issued a matching grant challenge. Over the next 90 days, the company will match dollar-for-dollar your gifts to the NC Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund up to $50,000. (See details here on how you can give.) We appreciate Duke Energy for their generosity and for their vote of confidence in NCCF’s abilities to help support recovery.
So what does a community foundation have to do with disaster recovery?
First of all, we depend on those who live and work in communities affected by the hurricane to make recommendations about needs, issues and rebuilding efforts. We so value our statewide network of local affiliate advisory board members who can identify and evaluate these local needs, helping us to ensure that our disaster relief grants are going where they need to go.
Second, our disaster relief fund was set up to provide these services free of charge. We do not charge administrative or other fees on this account. Of course this is the right thing to do, and many of those who give to the fund have told us that is one reason they chose to contribute to the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund, because they know that every dollar goes to recovery. The response has been nothing short of amazing, which has also made this a challenge due to the staff time and effort that has been devoted to this disaster. Our model allows us to play this role.
Our statewide board is committed to this fund. It is just one way that we can give back and model effective community leadership.
We care about North Carolina, we believe in the resilience of our people, in the generosity of our friends and the value of giving.
Unlike the sump pump, I am totally confident in our ability to effectively assist in the recovery effort.