January 1, 2000, was to be the day our lives were going to change forever. The fear was that all of the world’s computers would crash and that the world as we knew it would revert back to the olden days. Referred to as the great Y2K scare, this non-event created panic and is now called the “disaster that never was.”
However, the end of 1999 brought a local disaster to the Cape Fear area. Category 4 Hurricane Floyd hit the North Carolina shoreline, causing widespread flooding, 35 deaths and a billion dollars in damage statewide. North Carolina Governor James Hunt designated United Way of North Carolina as the lead agency to manage the financial donations coming in to the state for hurricane relief. And on a local level, on November 19, campaign chair Howard H. Loving, Jr. announced the 1999 campaign had exceeded its goal by raising $2.89 million. Local people in need would be helped.
With more help on the way, in May 2000, the Cape Fear United Way announced the largest gift ever received for hurricane relief in its 59-year history. Interestingly, the gift came from United Way of the Triangle, which raised about $1.2 million more than it needed for hurricane relief during its 1999 campaign. United Way of the Triangle invited other United Way agencies to apply for the excess dollars. Cape Fear United Way worked to submit a collaborative application for $600,000 that included a dozen area agencies. United Way of the Triangle approved the grant application and awarded the Cape Fear application $435,521.
In conjunction with the Triangle gift, 2000 board chair Andy Atkinson announced that Cape Fear Area United Way had received a $20,000 gift from United Way of America that was designated for hurricane relief in Columbus County.
Nationally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a petition filed by United Way of America and The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems and others requesting the national designation of 211 for health and human services information and referral. The telephone number 211 was chosen as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would make a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Today, on a national and local level, you can dial 211 on any phone to reach a helpline that handles thousands of calls. Our local helpline offers around-the-clock help and up-to-date local information to residents who are in need in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Columbus counties. NC211 is also a web-based system that is used in Wilmington as a way to update and maintain much needed information during a weather event. This helpline can also be found at NC211.org.
The year 2001 brought many changes to the world and to the local community as well. The Cape Fear Area United Way campaign, launched mere days before the tragic events of 9/11, yielded a record result at its close. According to an announcement made by United Way board chair Howard H. Loving, Jr. in early December, the 2001 campaign raised in excess of $3,115,000. The campaign exceeded its goal when contributions from GE, Carolina Power and Light, and other large employers started to pour in. Hank Estep of Griffin-Estep Benefits chaired the 2001 campaign.
In 2002, United Way set a goal of $2.7 million for its annual campaign, a year in which Howard Loving, Jr. served a second term as board chair. United Way executive director Bobby Smith told the Star-News that the goal was reduced by $400,000 from the 2001 campaign goal because of a post-9/11 downturn in the economy and cuts in state spending. United Way’s Pacesetter Campaign raised $850,000, with BB&T leading the way with a $35,000 campaign donation.
Bobby Smith resigned in 2003 and accepted a position as United Way executive director in High Point. In June, former Forsyth County United Way executive Lynn Pharr was named United Way executive director. Hank Estep, 2001 campaign chair, succeeded board chair Pat Walden upon Pat’s death mid-term.
Continue our walk through history as our next Insight will continue our story through the early to mid-2000s. Join us as we celebrate you at our 75th anniversary on June 11, 2016 at Audi Cape Fear. Our 1940s-themed event will highlight the past 75 years, as well as focus on our present and future. All are invited. Find that perfect vintage outfit and come have some fun. Visit uwcfa.org or buy tickets at 75thanniversarycelebration.eventbrite.com, or call (910) 798-3900 for more information.
Christopher L. Nelson is president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, a local nonprofit organization. Since 1941, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked alongside local agencies in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties to assist them in providing substantial and sustainable change within the Cape Fear area. To learn more about the United Way of the Cape Fear Region, go to https://uwcfa.org/ or call (910) 798-3900.
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