Kevin Daniels defended his boss – Gov. Pat McCrory – last week against critics who say the state has become increasingly regressive since McCrory took office earlier this year.
Daniels, McCrory’s former director of Community Affairs and now program director for the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service’s AmeriCorps, spoke at a May 30 fundraiser hosted by the Wharton Gladden Foundation at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar. He said McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, has been hard at work trying to improve the lives of all North Carolinas by improving the economy.
“Since January, he has announced the creation of close to 5,000 jobs, which is impressive, and it’s all across the state; it’s not just focused on one area,” said the New York native. “When you look at the work that the governor’s doing, he’s providing leadership in that he did what he said he was going to do: he’s going in and he’s creating jobs.”
When asked about the regular demonstrations the state NAACP now stages at the General Assembly to protest a litany of new laws – which are only enacted after the governor signs them – that the civil rights organization says are designed to suppress the black vote, deny defendants their right to a fair trial and otherwise disenfranchise communities of color, Daniels was diplomatic.
“I think that they are expressing their constitutional right to assemble,” he said, “and I support that.”
Last week’s event, a “wine mixer,” drew about 100 people who paid a minimum of $25 to attend. It was the fifth year that the foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Greensboro-based real estate investment firm, had held the fundraiser to raise money to support area agencies and causes. The foundation has adopted “The Power of One” moniker for its fundraising efforts. For $1,000, donors can become The Power of One members and help decide which agencies benefit from foundation grants.
“The Power of One is just a continuation of what we’ve been doing with Wharton Gladden Foundation,” said Wharton Gladden Managing Director Algenon Cash. “We are raising money to make strategic investments into nonprofits.”
The foundation uses a private sector model to identify its beneficiaries, supporting only the most effective nonprofits in the area, Cash said. Organizations that address homelessness, domestic violence or substance abuse, three things Cash says he witnessed frequently as a child, are its focus. Past grant recipients have included Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, the Bethesda Center for the Homeless and Samaritan Ministries. To date, the foundation has invested $11,000 in local nonprofits and donated more than 4,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest of Northwest North Carolina. The fundraising goal for this year is $20,000.
“My grandfather used to tell me growing up on Liberty Street that if I wanted the situation to change on Liberty Street, then I had to change it,” related Cash, a well known philanthropist and conservative political activist. “What I do politically, what I do with the company, it’s just about taking ownership of the community and trying to make sure (positive) things happen … what makes me feel good is to see all this come to fruition.”
A handful of local professionals, including attorneys Jay and Alice Tolin, served as table hosts. The couple brought a handful of their employees from Tolin and Tolin Attorneys at Law to the event. The Tolins, who are friends of Cash’s, say they would like to add another cause to the Power of One effort: children with special needs. It is a cause that the couple is passionate about; their two-year-old son James has Down Syndrome.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Jay Tolin said about the fundraising effort. “I think it’s something we should do more often. I hope it’ll get people’s minds thinking about how they can give back.”
High Point resident Charity Belton also praised the concept of the mixer, which she said offered the perfect blend of business and pleasure.
“I love it because it allows people to come together and meet,” said Belton, who is heavily involved in the nonprofit sector. “It allows you to actually do business while you’re having fun, so it’s a good connecting point. It’s a great way to self-develop.”
Daniels, who grew up poor, stressed the importance of supporting communities in need and making sure that the nonprofits that serve those populations have enough resources to do the work.
“Ever since I came to North Carolina, the passion to serve ignited within me,” he said. “My passion is the low income areas … I don’t have the ability to write a check, but I do have the ability to connect people with the resources that they need.”
Daniels, the former state president of the right-wing Frederick Douglass Foundation, told attendees that the Power of One is a strong model to help redefine charitable giving statewide.
“If we can take that concept and put it in the mind of everyone and model that across the state, we can do some powerful things,” he said.
Mayor Allen Joines was also invited to take part in the event, which also served as an informal birthday celebration for Cash. Republican Cash is a staunch supporter of Joines, a Democrat who is up for reelection this year. The mayor addressed attendees briefly, highlighting what he considers his major accomplishments over his first three terms.
“Twelve years ago, we started out on a mission to rebuild this city’s economy, to bring us together as a community … and to address issues of crime and neighborhood blight. We’ve reached out with messages of inclusion, and I would say over the past 12 years, we’ve moved the ball pretty well forward in our community,” the mayor said.
For more information about The Power of One, visit www.whartongladden.com.