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A Community Foundation Moving Forward

Posted On December 3, 2020

Tony Price takes over as President

By RAY LINVILLE  »  Photos by Mollie Tobias

The leadership of a compassionate and benevolent community organization in the Sandhills is changing. Tony Price is succeeding Russell Sugg as the president of Moore County Community Foundation.

The foundation is the premier local network for raising and directing locally contributed funds to benefit specific programs of more than 30 caring nonprofits in the county. It is guided by a volunteer advisory board whose members live and work in the county.

The change in leadership is not a change in the direction but a renewed emphasis on community engagement.

“My agenda will be to continue the workings of the current board and have even a greater impact in the community,” says Price.

His ambitious goal will be a challenge because the foundation has given more than $1 million in grants to nonprofit charities in Moore County since 1991, and its annual awards have exceeded $100,000. However, if anyone can succeed in filling the shoes of Sugg and extending his leadership legacy, it’s Price.

As he begins his presidency, Price says that the foundation has great recognition “in the community, and we want to expand it. We want to build relationships with more local companies and make our work more familiar to increase our support. The demographics of the community have been changing. The area is becoming younger. We want to develop initiatives to reach young people.”

He also points out that new industries and businesses as well as an expanding military presence have changed the demographics. “We need initiatives to reach those people,” he adds.

For the past three years, Sugg, Wealth Advisor and Senior Vice President at First Bank Wealth Management, has been the foundation’s president. Reflecting on his tenure, Sugg points out three important accomplishments: “First, I wanted a more diverse board, and we have accomplished that. Secondly, we worked to get our name more into the community. Third, because so many of our grants are designated for health care programs, we are now working much more closely with the medical community.”

As chief executive of the Moore Free and Charitable Care Clinic in Southern Pines since 2011, Price was well aware of the significant impact that the foundation has in this area even before he joined the board two years ago. The clinic is the largest recipient of the foundation’s community grants program and last year received $25,000 to provide health care to the limited-income uninsured of Moore County.

Recently recognized for a statewide award, the clinic provides approximately $29 in medical services for every dollar donated. It is representative of the local nonprofits that receive MCCF grants.

Sugg says, “Each one is closely scrutinized. We verify that they are solvent and what they will do. Each grant is for a specific purpose and cannot go into a general operating budget. We help them serve a specific need.”

For managing the clinic during the COVID-19 crisis with no interruption in services to clients as well as leading the clinic’s effort to raise private donations to double the clinic’s size, Price was recently honored by the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

While Price was leading the clinic in its response to the pandemic, Sugg had a similar and complementary role as MCCF president by quickly assisting other community organizations financially. The period to apply for grants typically begins in early April each year, and the grants are awarded several weeks later.

However, when the COVID-19 crisis began in Moore County, Sugg was able to obtain and direct financial support rapidly for the preparation and distribution of meals to families in immediate need. “We had to operate outside the normal process of allocating funds,” he says.

What inspired Price to join the MCCF board initially and now be willing to serve as its president?

He says, “My perspective is different (from other board members) since I’ve been a recipient for years. When grants are funded in July, we attend an event where 32 nonprofits come together, and we hear each one — folks from throughout the community — tell their stories. Attending just one session will draw you into the work that the foundation does. I’m honored now to be asked to be the president.”

As Price assumes more leadership responsibilities with the foundation and continues to lead the clinic, he continues his other community service, although he stepped down as the chair of the board of Moore County Department of Social Services last June. He is vice chair of the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and will become its chair in January. In addition, he was recently sworn in as member of the Moore County Board of Health.

Each year MCCF seeks proposals to enhance the quality of life in Moore County and respond to changing community needs. It is an affiliate of the N.C. Community Foundation, which helps individuals establish long-term funds for charitable causes throughout the state.

In addition to grants to civic organizations, individuals may receive scholarships. Several scholarships are awarded annually to students enrolled in engineering, science, math, electrical systems, nursing, education, and teaching programs.

Among other duties, the board awards grants and builds assets for Moore County by creating perpetual endowments. The foundation helps individuals establish permanent funds for charitable causes and accepts applications from nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of Moore County.

Individuals who want to contribute to the foundation can select several options, and the foundation makes it easy to become philanthropic. Anyone can open an endowment for their favorite cause or contribute to an existing fund.

Funds raised by MCCF have benefited disaster relief efforts, family support programs, youth leadership activities, emergency veteran assistance, literacy improvement projects, educational and mentoring activities, health care programs, and other significant community outreach projects.

Each year the MCCF has typically conducted a Man and Woman of the Year banquet, where it has presented prestigious awards to deserving community activists. Because of the pandemic, the fundraising banquet will not be held this year and has been replaced by a special end-of-year campaign.

The transfer of presidency from Sugg to Price builds on their collaboration as MCCF board members as well as the camaraderie that they have created through volunteerism. As Sugg continues on the board for his seventh year, he’s more than pleased that it will be in the hands of such a dedicated community leader.

Readers interested in the MCCF should visit nccommunityfoundation.org/communities/sandhills/moore-county online. For more information about the clinic, please go to moorefreecare.org.