In 2003 a group formed on the island to focus on saving the Berkley Manor. Approved by the Hyde County Commissioners, the Berkley Steering Committee was formed. The goal was to save the property from development and utilize it’s greenspace and historic structures for community needs and tourism activities. One consistent question that arose was “Who or what type of entity was there that could facilitate, apply for and administer funding and carry-out this community based project?
This is where the concept of the Ocracoke Foundation began.
Then in the spring of 2006, Ocracoke watermen learned that the last operating fish house would not reopen and was up for sale. Individually, no waterman would be able to afford the $325,000 price tag plus renovation costs. Was it possible that they could come together and come up with the funds? If so, where would these funds come from? What and who would be able to find the funding? How could they manage a business as a group when they are so uniquely independent? What business structure would be put in place that ensured sound long term management? How could they receive donations to undertake educational outreach if they also needed to be a profit generating business? How could this crisis situation be avoided in the future?
These questions were not unique. Often, situations arose where action was required immediately – either to obtain funding, seize an opportunity, or develop an initiative or project. The answer was to create an entity ready to serve and thus the Ocracoke Foundation was formed to foster the development of projects on Ocracoke that benefit the community – economically, socially and environmentally.