Sometimes our paddles feel small — but usually they’re just what we need

Fall is finally here, and about time! It has been a long, hot summer.  Many of us in North Carolina have been through a tornado, an earthquake, a hurricane and a flood. (Are locusts next?)

Our disaster relief efforts have been all-consuming to many on our team. But marketing, administrating and granting these funds have combined to provide an incredible opportunity for us to illustrate the effectiveness of our model and the power of our statewide network.  It has also been an opportunity for all parts of our organization to come together to work for our state, and all on our team have shone.  We have learned much, and I want to pay special tribute to Rod Martin, who chairs the statewide grants effort, and all who serve on that committee.

Aside from the disasters, our summer at NCCF has been busy and active. The pace has been brisk in terms of new funds and growth in existing funds; community grants processes replete with meetings, reviews, receptions and celebrations; donor events across the state; fund statements and many other communications out to our Foundation “family.”

While everyday activities can feel somewhat overwhelming at times, there are of course bigger issues to consider. Some of our challenges can seem down right daunting. A great quote I’ve heard puts it this way: “The challenges are deep, and sometimes our paddles can feel so small.”

Those facing rural North Carolina were brought into plain view at our recent board meeting, where we had the opportunity to hear from Anita Brown-Graham from the Institute of Emerging Issues.

Challenges facing the foundation sector were keenly underscored at the Council of Foundation’s recent conference, where Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation wondered if we should all rethink our business model.

And we now also have challenges coming from the US Congress, which is suggesting changes to the charitable exemption.

Not to mention the challenges that many of our communities are facing in recovering from April tornadoes and Hurricane Irene.

So it’s all put into perspective. Sometimes all those little everyday challenges may block our vision around the big roadblocks many of us face.   So we all navigate around both pebbles and boulders, and our paddles are usually exactly what we need.