The history of the Cape Fear Volunteer Center is a little muddy, there is some lore out there, but this is the one I go with. Let me set the stage for you: in 1997 Hurricane Fran hit here, it pretty much devastated the area in one way or the other. If you stayed you could not get out, if you left you could not get back in, we became like an island. In New Hanover County we had a Red Cross, we had a Salvation Army, we had a United Way etc. back then the term “spontaneous volunteer” had not yet been coined. Once this storm hit people around the country saw we needed help, people had lost everything. People decided they were going to dedicate money, time and they cleaned out their closests and send their clothing. The later two behaviors caused a few problems for our area. The distribution of dollars is easy for agencies to do, they know how to do that without a problem. However without being prepared for the arrival of “spontaneous volunteers” this manpower went to waste, no one wanted to send them out into the field, they stood there waiting to be matched, and went home frustrated. Additionally, a mountain of clothing was created, eventually became mildewed, and had to be hauled to the landfill, also going to waste and not getting to its intended recipients.
Two women, Vicki Dull (the then President of the Junior League of Wilmington, and Vicky Elmore ( the then Community Vice President of the Cape Fear Area United Way) decided that this waste of assets should never happen again. So they looked to the Points of Light Foundation, that was created by the first President Bush. There they found what would be a shell structure of a volunteer center. They decided that they would create the Cape Fear Volunteer Center as a service to be provided by the Cape Fear Area United Way 1997.
Annie M. Anthony