Every year, in late May or early June, I witness magic.  The result of the magical event is a year’s worth of inspiration, motivation and determination.

In the spring of the year in Catawba County, North Carolina, the Unifour Foundation Endowment Fund opens its grant making season.  It’s always a flurry of activity: calls, meetings, site visits and sometimes angst over the electronic grant application.  But, just the same, every year we meet to hear the stories and award the grants to the winning applicants.  This year, just 25 of the 50 organizations received grants to support their projects and programs.  But in 12 years that one fund has awarded more than $2.4 million in those small Foothills communities.

Following the nuts and bolts, the application process, we begin to hear the stories.  There’s the magic! You hear it firsthand in the voice of the young woman living in the women’s homeless shelter speaking of her experience, her efforts to get back on her feet, finish her education.  Truly there were few dry eyes in the banquet room. There is the inspiration!

Or we hear the stories of a summer meal program for 900 children in Alexander County.  Then there are the stories about medical supplies and prescriptions for the free clinics in Caldwell and Burke or Catawba counties.  Or the programs to assist seniors in signing up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program.  How many of us have wandered through that valley with our senior parents? There’s the motivation!

But every year, I speak to those who were not so fortunate to receive a grant from this endowment, and I hear their disappointment, I hear their fear and uncertainty over making their budget stretch far enough, and I know they too needed those grant dollars. There’s the motivation. 

Every year we want to administer the strongest grant program we can offer and make meaningful, strategic grants in our communities in the Catawba Valley.   Establishing these endowment funds, managing strong grant making programs to meet community needs and fund holder dreams – there’s the magic!  How fortunate am I to be a small part of such an exceptional process.