Before launching expanded programs and outreach efforts from its new headquarters in Wrightsville Beach’s Historic Square, the N.C. Coastal Federation set aside a day to celebrate the community that made the move possible.
Visitors toured the facility, met staff and learned about new programs during the May 3 grand opening of the organization’s new Southeast Office and Coastal Education Center, but Tracy Skrabal, office manager and coastal scientist, said the event’s main purpose was to recognize the individuals and organizations that donated time, money and materials necessary to open the facility.
“It was truly a community undertaking for us to be able to open these doors,” Skrabal said. “It is a new day for us. The sky is the ceiling for the programming we’ll be able to do and the partnerships we’ll be able to take on.”
The process began in late 2012 when Mark and Debbie Mitchell agreed to donate the 1946 Palmgren-O’Quinn House to the federation.
A $600,000 fundraising campaign paid for the cottage to travel by barge from Harbor Island and undergo renovations by Konrady & Son Construction, but donations continued to overwhelm the federation’s staff.
“[Keller’s] donated our alarm system and fire system. Port City Elevator gave us back our check after we paid them,” Skrabal said. “It’s crazy how generous people have been.”
All contributions were celebrated, but the federation gave special thanks to Fred and Alice Stanback.
Todd Miller, founder and executive director of the N.C. Coastal Federation, announced the decision to name the coastal education center after the Stanbacks during the grand opening.
“If you travel anywhere across North Carolina, you’re going to encounter beautiful natural areas they’ve helped to protect and preserve,” Miller said. “It’s a great honor for the coastal federation that they let us put their names on this center.”
Skrabal said she hoped the grand opening would also raise awareness of the federation’s coastal advocacy work.
“A lot of people may have heard of the costal federation but don’t know who we are or what we do. … This was not an inexpensive endeavor so we’re hoping such a visible presence will translate into a lot of new support for the federation,” Skrabal said.
After working in the new office for a month, Skrabal said the staff is invigorated by the change.
“It’s been really great for staff mentality. It’s a boost, because what we do is often hard and intense. Having a beautiful place to call home makes it more worthwhile,” Skrabal said.
email [email protected]