Dawn has not yet broken in Rocky Mount as I write, and some of my colleagues have already left to travel over 400 miles today to visit organizations applying for assistance to help families and communities devastated by yet another hurricane. Just two years ago, I would have not known the level and depth of work that Golden LEAF would conduct to assist with hurricane recovery, and now, with hurricane relief as well. But for an organization created to help transition the economy of rural, tobacco-dependent North Carolina, we simply cannot hope that recovery will automatically happen. Hope is a virtue, but not a strategy.
When Golden LEAF was created in October 1999, Hurricanes Floyd and even Fran were still fresh on North Carolina minds. While other storms hit parts of North Carolina hard in the last 20 years, it was not until Matthew and Florence that as broad a portion of eastern North Carolina felt severe impacts, including loss of human life. I believe there have been lessons learned and improved responses, but we know we cannot stop storms from coming. And so we must deal with that reality – and together as a state, we are.
This issue deals with Golden LEAF’s role in short-term relief – using private donations to the N.C. Hurricane Florence Relief Fund; and long-term recovery – using tax dollars for local government and small business assistance – as we finish up the work we’ve done for Hurricane Matthew and begin the recovery work for Hurricane Florence.
We know that we cannot wait. Governor Cooper’s signature was probably not yet dry on Hurricane Florence legislation appropriating Golden LEAF $25 million to facilitate the state’s recovery funds when we had applications posted on our website. Already, we’ve approved 24 grants of over $2 million for short-term relief, within about a month since the Governor asked us to take on the responsibility. The faster we move, the faster the healing begins.
But while this issue concentrates on these awful disasters, please know that our other traditional grantmaking continues. Since our beginning, we’ve provided scholarships to rural NC students to go to college. Read about my friend Andrew Aliseo, one of our many great scholarship alumni, in this issue.
On October 1, I celebrated my 10th anniversary with the Foundation, and Golden LEAF celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. We are working to reflect on the past and its lessons, and apply them to a great 10 and 20 years ahead. You’ll read about those developments in the months to come.