Foundation celebrates 35th year

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Davie Community Foundation celebrated its 35th anniversary on Oct. 17 at Bermuda Run Country Club.

Current and former board members gathered with fund holders and guests to hear about the accomplishments of the foundation in the community.

“The crowd enjoyed good food and fellowship with friends they had not seen in a few years while reviewing story boards that had been created to share highlights of the foundation story,” said Jane Simpson, president & CEO.

The most impactful accomplishment in the past 10 years, according to Simpson, was completion of the 25th Anniversary 5n5 Community Impact Challenge.

“We were successful in raising $5 million over five years in Community Funds that could be used as needed for the Davie community. Having those dollars available changed everything.”

In partnership with the Mebane Charitable Foundation in 2014, conversations around creating an all-around healthy community were held – a Healthy Davie. Three areas of focus led to collaborative work by Davie agencies and non-profits.

The Wellness Group had residents walking 1 billion steps in 100 days; the Education Group started the Healthy Davie Preschool to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten; and the Poverty Group’s conversations about homelessness led to the creation of Family Promise of Davie County.

Purchase of the former Skinny Wheels Bike Shop ultimately led to the creation of COGNITION of Davie County, and conversations with community leaders led to creation of a college promise program for Davie – IGNITE Davie College Promise.

Special guests Lisa Reynolds, executive director of Family Promise and former scholar along with former SURF Board member and scholar, Dr. Nick Ashburn, shared the importance of foundation investments in their organization and education.

Ashburn shared the importance of persistence in achieving success, a belief shared by his friend, Jane Simpson.

After 35 years, the foundation in rounded numbers represents:

• Gifts Received, $30 million;

• Scholarships Awarded, $2.8 million;

• Grants of all types, $11.6 million;

• Community Grants, $3.3 million;

• Funds under Management, 339; and

• Assets as of Sept.30, $23 Million.

Simpson wrapped up her comments by sharing the impact IGNITE DAVIE College Promise is having on young people. More than $317,000 has been invested in 325 students since its launch in 2020. Students earned 112 certificates, diplomas and degrees and graduates are beginning to work in Davie County.

Graduate Ashley Lipscomb, Davie County paramedic, and current student Jack Jarvis, Golding Award winner, were introduced as examples of community investments.

“IGNITE DAVIE College Promise if within $250,000 of its $3 million goal,” said Simpson. “Let’s get this finished by Dec. 31 and start the new year looking at new opportunities like raising math scores and endowment funding for Davie County Schools.”

At the end of her remarks, Phil Fuller and the foundation board presented Simpson with a silver tray to commemorate her 20 years of service to the foundation. “It has been a joyful journey,” said Simpson. “It is an honor to do what I do with so many caring and generous people. Davie County people really care about their community and each other.”

Creating a foundation for Davie County was one of six goals of the “Quality of Life” Task Force report from the Davie Futures Committee. Six men decided it was an idea worth pursuing in 1988: Bert Bahnson, John Brock, Peter Hairston, George Martin, Kent Mathewson, and RC Smith.

Foundation President Kent Mathewson and Board Chair Bill Johnson agreed to solicit private donations to help build the Davie Campus of Davidson County Community College and the Helen C. Gantt Child Development Center. The combined projects represented gifts of almost $1.5 million from the Davie community.

Soon after the retirement of Mathewson in 1999, Ken Dwiggins took the reins and led the foundation through its own reorganization. He had retired from Ford Motor Co. and returned to Davie County to live. Dwiggins, along with the then chair, Joan Carter, set the foundation in motion to follow the model of other community foundations throughout the state.

On April 1,2003, Jane Simpson was hired as the first full-time staff and significant endowment building began.