We wish we could tell you about each one of our donors who has made a difference for conservation in this state. Fortunately, there are too many! Here are some we thought you'd enjoy reading about.
Marjorie Bribitzer can’t remember when she began to support The Nature Conservancy. “I really don’t remember when I learned of TNC, but I loved the idea of just buying the land,” she explains. When Associate Director of Philanthropy Sandy Sweitzer called Marjorie and her husband Clem to thank them for 30 consecutive years of giving, the Pender County couple was surprised at just how long they have supported the organization.
“Shortly after we were married, we set up a budget for charitable donations and TNC was on it,” says Clem. At that time, the two were living in northern Virginia, where Clem was an environmental economist with the National Marine Fisheries Service and Marjorie was a clinical social worker.
The couple began visiting Pender County more than 25 years ago. They moved there 16 years ago. Clem is retired, but Marjorie continues to work part time. During their time in Pender County, they have seen that part of the state change. “Used to be Hampstead to Wilmington was just a two lane road,” Clem says. “We’ve seen county water lines come and the houses that go with them.”
Marjorie says supporting the Conservancy was one way to counter those changes. “I thought this was a really good way to do it. Going to Raleigh or DC and fighting things – that’s just not my nature. Giving to the Conservancy is the way to support what needs to be done.”
Margot Jeffer says her dad was happiest driving backcountry roads looking for local tomatoes.
“He always kept a shaker of salt in the glove compartment for such occasions,” said Jeffer. “I guess those drives, which always seemed to include a picnic and my mother wading in streams, instilled in me a deep love of nature. That has remained my entire life.”
To honor her parents, Jeffer has made a decision to leave much of her estate to The Nature Conservancy to further its work in Western North Carolina.
“I want to remember my parents in a way that honors their lives and the many gifts they bestowed upon me,” the Clyde resident said. “I cannot think of a better way than to use the proceeds from my will to protect a special natural area in their memory.”
Jeffers is one of a growing number of Conservancy members in North Carolina and across the country that are looking at different ways they can support TNC’s mission.
For information about our Legacy Club, visit the Ways of Giving page.
You may not have heard of Easter Maynard, but you’ve probably eaten at one of her family’s restaurants. Easter’s father, James, started the Golden Corral restaurant chain in 1971 – the same year that Easter was born. Two years later, the first restaurants – in Fayetteville and Raleigh – opened. Today, there are almost 500 Golden Corrals in 40 states.
Easter advises her family on their charitable giving decisions. Her family’s eastern North Carolina roots play a large role in those decisions. James Maynard is from Jacksonville. Her mother, Connie, was born and raised in Plymouth. “My parents are so grateful for the way their lives have worked out,” she says. “They want to support the communities they came from.”
Our work in eastern North Carolina is one of the reasons that Golden Corral and the Maynards recently gave the Conservancy $75,000. Easter says there were other factors that played a role in the gift. “We want to support organizations where the money goes to a real, tangible thing. People come to us wanting us to support an event, but an event takes so much time and energy, and in the end you don’t have much.”
There is also the fact that Maynard’s family has always loved the outdoors. Her father is an avid fisherman. Every year, the family takes a summer vacation in Beaufort, where the family likes to visit Carrot Island, which is part of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve. The Conservancy helped to make those visits possible, protecting 400 acres there in the late 1970s.
Tom Gwynn has been a fan of conservation for many years, with good reason. “Anybody who really likes quail, they tend to get into conservation,” he explains.
His wife Bee took a little longer to get interested in nature. She remembers ruefully a third grade project where her teacher asked her to identify three wildflowers. “I was left asking myself, what is a wildflower,” she says. She makes a gesture with her hands to explain her “narrow focus.” It wasn’t until she was in med school and went for a walk with a fellow student who was a timber cruiser that her focus expanded. “This was just fascinating,” she explains.
The two retired to the North Carolina coast. Bee volunteered at the Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, working with Dr. Pat Tester, an internationally recognized expert on phytoplankton. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented her with its Environmental Hero of the Year award for her efforts.
But, hurricanes and development drove them back inland. “We watched as the development just took over,” Tom explains. Their interest in conservation grew. So, did their interest in ensuring themselves a comfortable retirement. That’s where The Nature Conservancy came into play.
“We were retired and had mutual funds. I called TNC. I was vaguely aware of what they did,” Tom explains. He asked about the charitable gift annuity program, where donors transfer cash, securities or property to the Conservancy and the Conservancy pays out a lifetime annuity to the donor.
For the Gwynns this truly is a win/win situation. They are drawing a good interest rate while financing something they truly believe in. “Look at the percentage of return,” Bee says. “They were great. We couldn’t do better. Then, the fact that you did what you did, it was just good all around”
For more information on Charitable Gift Annuities, visit our Ways of Giving page.