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GivingTuesday Spotlight: SUSTAINABLE SANDHILLS

'We live at ground zero in Cumberland County with Chemours in our backyard and industrial waste flowing down the Cape Fear River through our county'


Second in a series: During GivingTuesday, CityView Today is spotlighting a few of the 79 nonprofit agencies supported by the Cumberland Community Foundation’s annual observance of the global day of generosity. Make your gift here between November 20th and November 29th to have it amplified by a $550,000 match.

Today: we speak with Sustainable Sandhills Executive Director Wayne Rider.

CITYVIEW: Why is your organization’s work vital to the people you serve?

RIDER: One of many examples is the current state of the Cape Fear River Basin. Regretfully our primary source of drinking water is contaminated with industrial waste like GenX. And polluted with litter like single-use plastics. We serve to raise awareness and encourage local residents to know what they are drinking before they drink it. We encourage community members to not litter and support programs like Fayetteville Beautiful and Five for Friday which is a pledge to pick up five pieces of litter on Friday.

We live at ground zero in Cumberland County with Chemours in our backyard and industrial waste flowing down the Cape Fear River through our county. The ongoing contamination of the Cape Fear River Basin could be one of the worst human-caused disasters in history, time will tell. The long term health effects of what we drink daily are not completely understood yet, scientific research is ongoing. With that said, we have a lot of work ahead of us to better raise awareness, so community members are making informed choices.

How does what you do benefit the community as a whole?

Everyone needs natural resources such as reliable power, clean air, healthy food, and freshwater. Today, tomorrow, and forever. That concept is at the core of sustainability. We encourage the wise use of our natural resources. This is a win win for community members and our environment. Reducing the cost of electric and water bills (what PWC shares with us day in and day out), fuel consumption at the pump, growing fresh vegetables in backyards versus buying imported produce. Buying fewer disposable items. It all adds up to substantial savings for local residents practicing sustainability.

Tell us about your operation, and what your annual budget allows you to do — and how you make decisions about what gets left out if there’s a budget shortfall… 

Sustainable Sandhills is a local community based non-profit that primarily operates from grant funding and partnerships with governmental organizations. We do very well serving our partner programs that overlap with our ongoing projects and programs. But we often fall short in non-profit goals like community engagement, sharing sustainable tips, and increasing public awareness of environmental issues and the benefits of sustainability. As well as small things that have a big impact, like promoting and encouraging participation in Earth Day events that take place annually in April.

How does the financial boost you get from the Cumberland Community Foundation make a difference in the life of your organization?

The Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Sustainable Sandhills going back to the early 2000s. The financial boost is a blessing that helps fill funding gaps in program support. With that said, what the Foundation does is just not about a financial boost — non-profits run off time, talent and treasure. The Foundation is a local gem or lighthouse for local non-profits. The mentorship, coaching, and education provided by the Foundation to local non-profits is priceless.

What’s your message to those who are considering supporting the Foundation? Why should they be a part of Giving Tuesday and support the campaign?

Always support your local community whenever you can. Whether buying locally grown food, merchandise, or donating. Your support for the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign is a wonderful way to make a meaningful change at the local level.

About Wayne Rider: His background is diverse with military leadership, small business operations in the local community, wildlife biology and habitat improvements. He describes himself as a conservationist at heart, always looking for opportunities to give back to our environment. He's a lifelong learner of sustainability and a believer in the Sustainable Sandhills mission and values.

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