Mebane Foundation and Local Businesses Come Through For Davie Youth and 4-H Programs

By Jeanna Baxter White

When Mebane Foundation President Larry Colbourne saw a plea in the Enterprise for sponsors for Davie County’s 4-H summer camps he immediately asked himself, “What would Allen (Mebane) do?” — then he wrote a check. 

“Allen read the paper every morning and I remember vividly how he’d call me into his office and tell me to take a look at a story he’d just read, articles similar to the 4-H one. He’d say, ‘I think they can use our help, what do you think?’  I knew all along we were going to help the organization, but he did that so I’d understand just how good it would make me feel. Now that he’s gone, I still do that from time to time, and you know what? It still feels as good as it did that first time in his office,” Colbourne shared. 

4-H Programs Forced to Pivot Funding Sources

4-H is the largest youth development organization in North Carolina, educating hundreds of thousands of young people each year. Sponsored by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, the goal of 4-H is to teach life skills, leadership, and public speaking to youth ages 5-18.

Because of COVID, the organization, which serves nearly 400 youth annually across Davie and surrounding counties, has seen a dramatic decline in funding due to limited donations and canceled fundraisers. The biggest fundraiser, the Davie 4-H Golf Tournament, which generally brings in $4,000, had to be canceled last year. Due to guidance from NC State University, which oversees Davie County 4-H, and outdoor gathering limits, this year’s Davie 4-H Golf Tournament was also canceled.

The decision dealt a tough blow to funding for the organization’s summer programming.  

“This was a very hard decision for us,” says Danny Lough, Davie County 4-H Extension agent. “We want to ensure everyone stays safe during this time and an in-person spring fundraiser does not allow us to do that. The funds earned from the golf tournament go directly to serving youth in our community through our clubs, camps, school enrichment, and STEM programs. Thanks to these funds, we can offer all these programs at little to no cost for our Davie families, which allows every youth an opportunity for a fun and educational experience.”

Programs Are Able to Stay Low Cost or No Cost Due to Funding

One of Davie County 4-H’s largest youth opportunities is the Summer Fun Camps that serve nearly 100 children annually and provide a safe, hands-on educational opportunity for families that need summer child care. 

Davie County Farm Bureau and United Way of Davie County donate funds annually to help cover some of the costs of camps. However, without additional funding, Lough was concerned that the cost of this summer’s camps would have to increase to cover insurance and travel expenses; possibly pricing out many families traditionally served by Davie 4-H Summer Fun.

Then he had an idea – ask businesses to sponsor the Summer Fun Programs like they sponsor the golf tournament.  

The idea was a tremendous success.

In addition to a $3,000 grant from the Mebane Foundation, Davie County 4-H received donations from Barnette Heating & Air, Fuller Architecture, Fuller Welding & Fabricators, Meg Brown Home Furnishings, Mocksville Auto Pride Car Wash, TAOksm, and Trailers of the East Coast

Summer Fun & Learning

“We really appreciate the outpouring of support from the business community as well as a few individuals. Several donors have children who have gone through the Summer Fun Camps and wanted to give that opportunity to others. We actually raised more than the funds lost which has allowed us to keep the prices low and increase the number of camps offered plus add a zoo trip.”   

This summer’s 14 camps cover a wide range of topics from gardening to computer coding. Each camp will be limited to 10 participants to allow for social distancing during transportation. After-camp care will also be provided for the first time. 

Most of the camps are led by volunteers who are very knowledgeable in the field they are teaching. “Our Davie County Master Gardeners help lead our Junior Master Gardener Camp where youth learn more about gardening. A local chef teaches the cooking camps and teaches the kids cooking skills and healthy recipes. Our Davie 4-H Shooting Sports instructor, Nelson Cowden, will teach youth about firearm safety and wildlife identification,” Lough said.

“The Mebane Foundation is all about education and getting kids involved in our community and I think our summer fun programs really align to that core value. Every kid is going to have fun, every kid going to have a safe summer camp experience but at the same time walk away with new skills and knowledge gained from our camps.” 

Registration Begins April 27, 2021

Camp registration is held in person and begins at 8 a.m on Tuesday, April 27th. Interested families may stop by the Cooperative Extension office, 180 S. Main St. #210, Mocksville, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m on weekdays. There will also be an evening sign-up on May 6 from 5-7 p.m. 

Learn More

To learn more about this summer’s camps check out the camp brochure HERE.

For more information, contact Lough at or call (336) 753-6100.

Smart Start Thanks Community for Help Meeting Mebane Foundation Challenge Grant

By Jeanna Baxter White

Daijah and Harriet enjoy “Brown Bear What do You See?” at the Davie County Community Park.

Drumroll please! Smart Start of Davie County is proud to announce that the $10,000 Mebane Foundation Challenge Grant has not only been met but exceeded! Thanks to generous contributions from the Davie County community, Smart Start has raised $33,345 to fund its family support and literacy programs. 

“We are humbled by the donations from local businesses and individual people in the community to support early education programs and Smart Start of Davie County,” said Gena Taylor, executive director. “We appreciate the wonderful work by the Mebane Foundation through grants that have helped us grow our literacy and family support programs over the years!  The success of our mission is attributed to generous supporters and we are deeply grateful to Mebane for their challenge grant, and to everyone that donated!”  

Smart Start had to cancel its annual Hometown Hoedown fundraising event, which typically raises $40,000-$60,000, due to COVID-related gathering restrictions. Since state funding was reduced for the Smart Start network across the state approximately 10 years ago, fundraising and grant writing have played a critical role in supporting the organization’s early care and family support programs, according to Taylor. 

To support the organization after the cancelation of the event, and to promote early education initiatives in Davie County, Mebane Foundation President Larry Colbourne issued a challenge offering a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10,000. 

Group Connection pumpkin carving activity for parents and children.

“The Mebane Foundation continues to be amazed by the willingness and support of the Davie County community to step up when organizations like Smart Start have a need. In this environment, many of our local non-profits are feeling the same type of pain with respect to fundraising shortfalls. With Smart Start being our long-term partner and working in the very same space our mission has us in, it made this challenge a perfect fit for us. I want to congratulate Gena, her staff, and volunteers for their all hard work!”

Taylor explained that the Mebane match will go toward funding Smart Start’s family support programs and literacy programs where state funds fall short. 

Smart Start of Davie County serves to ensure that young children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed in school and beyond. The organization connects the community through programs that ensure quality early education, health, and family support for all children prenatal to kindergarten in Davie County. These programs include: 

  • Child Care Subsidy – A child care scholarship program for families
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – An early literacy program for children
  • Parents as Teachers – An in-home parent/child education program
  • Nurturing Parenting Program – A ten-week parenting class
  • Strengthening the Foundations of Quality – A technical assistance program for child care providers
  • Early Childhood Resource Center – A free educational kit and resource lending library for parents and child care providers
  • Reach Out and Read – An early literacy program championed by local pediatricians
  • WAGE$ – An educational incentive program for child care providers

“Many of the family support and community programs we offer, such as KidsFest, Nurturing Parents, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and Reach Out and Read are primarily funded by grants and private donations,” said Heather Phillips, Smart Start board chairwoman. “We are so grateful to the Mebane Foundation’s Challenge Grant in lieu of hosting our popular Hometown Hoedown event due to health and safety reasons. Because of the Foundation and the community’s generosity, we were able to raise enough funds to confidently continue offering these beloved programs to the families of Davie County.”

Although the Mebane Foundation Challenge has ended, it is never too late to give. Donations will continue to help provide quality programs serving children prenatal to five years, their families, and caregivers To give, call the office, or mail checks to 1278 Yadkinville Road, Mocksville, NC 27028.  

About Smart Start of Davie County 

To learn more about Smart Start and its many programs to promote early childhood education click here, call (336) 751-2113, or email

Roll and Read Story Walk at the Davie County Community Park in October 2020.