Category: Philanthropy


Library in Vance County installs bilingual Spanish early literacy stations with Pope Foundation support

From the John William Pope Foundation September 9, 2015 RALEIGH — With recent grant support from the John William Pope Foundation, the H. Leslie Memorial Library in Vance County has added new technology to the youth services area to their Henderson, N.C. facility.  The new installation features additional early literacy stations that offer over 70 educational software programs in several curricular areas.  Several of the station’s programs are offered in Spanish, making the bilingual offering beneficial to the entire family. The official press release can be read online at The Daily Dispatch: The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson, North Carolina-based company Variety Wholesalers, Inc. For more information about the Perry Memorial Library, visit their website here.
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Pope Foundation makes emergency grants to Raleigh-area animal shelters

From the John William Pope Foundation August 20, 2015 RALEIGH, N.C. — The Pope Foundation has issued two emergency grants to local animal rescues.  Safe Haven for Cats in Raleigh and the Vance County Animal Shelter in Henderson were each awarded $1,000 to aid with pressing issues. “Both Safe Haven Rescue and Vance County Animal Shelter are doing their respective parts to keep communities clean and safe by providing shelter and care for animals that would otherwise be neglected or endangered.” said Joyce Pope, vice president of the John William Pope Foundation.  “Furthermore, their work to care for and rehabilitate abandoned and abused animals adds important value to our society and underscores how important it is to care for all community members, great and small.” Safe Haven for Cats took 34 cats into their facility after a July animal hoarding case that removed over 150 animals from a Chatham County home. The shelter has run out of space and resources during the summer months when they are typically already crowded.  Vance County Animal Shelter has also been struggling.  Their shelter has not been updated since it was built 40 years ago, and is regularly well over capacity.  This spring they received a five-acre land donation and are working to raise the funds to update their existing space. The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson, North Carolina-based company Variety Wholesalers, Inc.  Art Pope is chairman of the foundation.  For more information, visit   ###
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White Oak School gymnasium effort receives $5,000 grant

From the John William Pope Foundation July 24, 2015 RALEIGH – The John William Pope Foundation recently announced the award of a $5,000 grant to the White Oak School gymnasium revitalization project in Elizabethtown. “Buildings like the White Oak gymnasium are the backbone of many small communities,” said Art Pope, chairman of the John William Pope Foundation. “The Pope Foundation is proud to support a project that the people of Bladen County will find useful and important for years to come.” The Pope Foundation receives its support from the family of Art Pope and from Variety Wholesales, Inc., owner and operator the North Carolina based Roses and Maxway stores. The White Oak school doors were shuttered years ago, and all that remains on the property is a gymnasium built in the 1940s. The property was donated to White Oak Baptist Church about a year ago and the White Oak School Reunion Committee began the process of renovating the building into a community center. The grant from the Pope Foundation will help complete the final work on the building, including the installation of heating and air conditioning systems. Read the original press release at Bladen Journal online:  ###
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Art Pope opens Raleigh Save-A-Lot

Rep. Holley, Art Pope, and Councilman Weeks at the April 1 Save-A-Lot grand opening On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Variety Wholesalers CEO Art Pope, joined Variety Wholesalers President Wilson Sawyer to officially open the doors to their newest store venture, a Save-A-Lot grocery store at 1610 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Raleigh. Several local representatives were on hand to mark the occasion including Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley and Raleigh District Councilman Eugene Weeks.  Holley praised Variety Wholesalers for the social impact the store will have on Raleigh, noting that some issues were beyond politics.  She praised the number of jobs created and the effort Variety Wholesalers made to hire from the community. At the grand opening, two separate $2,000 checks were presented to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Salvation Army on behalf of Variety Wholesalers. The news article below appeared online with the News & Observer on April 1. Save-A-Lot store opens in Southeast Raleigh Kroger left in 2012, leaving residents with few grocery options BY SARAH BARR SBARR@NEWSOBSERVER.COM   A new Southeast Raleigh grocery store aims to fill a need for fresh, affordable food in a neighborhood where residents were left with few grocery options after a Kroger closed two years ago. Save-A-Lot, part of a chain of more than 1,300 discount grocery stories, opened Wednesday in the former Kroger building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Variety Wholesalers, headed by former state budget director Art Pope, owns the 18,000-square-foot store, along with a Roses store that’s connected to the new grocery. Shoppers toured Save-A-Lot after a grand-opening ceremony Wednesday, searching out deals on fresh produce, meat, dairy and other foods. They found an 8-pound bag of Red Delicious apples for $2.99, a box of elbow macaroni for 87 cents, a 2-pound pack of boneless pork chops for $6.55 and a gallon of whole milk for $3.75. Lisa Toon, 51, said she’s relieved to see a grocery store return to the shopping center. Since Kroger closed, she’s had to drive past the empty building to get to the nearest grocery store and hasn’t been able to find groceries as cheaply as she would like. “It will make life a whole lot easier,” she said as she and her husband, Ledell, pushed a cart with chicken, paper towels and eggs. In late 2012, Kroger announced it would pull out of the location because of declining sales figures. Residents and elected officials said the move was a major loss and worried about how it would affect the neighborhood. They especially had concerns about those without cars who have had to rely on several buses to get to the nearest full-service grocery stores about a mile away. Of the 4,000 households within a mile of the store, 25 percent earn less than $15,000 a year and more than half earn less than $35,000. The median household income in Wake County is about $66,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Variety Wholesalers bought the Kroger building last summer for $2.57 million, prompting public criticism from some community leaders who dislike Pope’s support for conservative causes. At the store’s opening, Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, a Wake County Democrat, said the issue is not a political one. “Guess what? When you’re hungry you don’t say are you a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. “Some issues exceed politics.” In the state legislature, Holley has pushed to bring attention to the issue of “food deserts,” communities where families don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. She said the new store also is important for the economic development it could help spur in the area by adding jobs and anchoring the shopping center. The Save-A-Lot employs 27 people, and the Roses employs 70. Variety Wholesalers officials have said the pairing of the Roses with a Save-A-Lot should encourage residents to make the trip to the shopping center, heading off the problems Kroger had in the location. Customer Sharon Paige, 60, showed up to shop for groceries before the ribbon across the front of the building was even cut. She’s looking forward to buying household items at Roses, then heading next door to Save-A-Lot. “You can do everything in one step,” said Paige, who said she may even walk to the store from her home in Chavis Heights.    
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Pope Exposed: News & Observer Columnist Covers ‘The Giving Side of Art Pope’

On December 23, 2014,  News & Observer columnist Barry Saunders wrote about Art Pope, the philanthropist, and his work with the Pope Foundation.  The column appears below and can be read online at: Saunders: The giving side of Art Pope BY BARRY SAUNDERS Ah, man. It would be the social event of the season – nay, of the millennium – but alas, it’ll never happen, cap’n. They wouldn’t even have to pay me to cover a wang dang doodle attended by people from all of the groups that get money from the J.W. Pope Foundation: just being there and seeing those in tuxes and tatters mingling would be payment a’plenty. Since 1986, the beau monde and thedemimonde – that’s the high-class swells who dine at white-linen establishments and the struggling soup-kitchen mavens who do what they have to to survive – have benefited from the altruistic contributions of the organization headed by Art Pope. Yes, that Art Pope. Pope, the current chairman and president of the Pope Foundation and Variety Wholesalers Inc., is the most polarizing person in state politics – and he’s not even in politics. Depending upon on which side of the aisle one stands, Pope is a selfless patriot or a reactionary zealot who at best is indifferent to the poor. While serving as Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director, Pope was thought by many to be the state’s real chief executive, earning the sobriquet “Pope Art” and “knight of the right.” I always doubted that Pope was controlling state government, because much of it has been so dysfunctional that it would be hard to find Pope’s imprint on it. It’s not hard to find it on Step Up Ministry, though. Steve Swayne, CEO of the nonprofit jobs and life skills training program, said the $25,000 his organization received from the Pope Foundation “will help us place 30 people in jobs. … Many of these people have been in the criminal justice system, over half of them have been homeless.” It has placed 554 in jobs this year. Whenever I’ve sought comments from Pope in the past, it was about some political move that had infuriated half of the populace and delighted others. That’s why when I called and left a message last week, I hurried up and let his office know that I come in peace, in recognition of the Christmas season. Philanthropic father When I reached him by phone, he explained that his father, John W. Pope, had long been philanthropic. “My parents gave directly … and the company gave to local charities in the areas where we had employees. … When I joined the family business in 1986, he wanted to channel the family and company charitable giving through a foundation. One of the first tasks he assigned to me was to form this Pope Foundation.” Pope said the group’s local humanitarian giving is centered in Wake, Vance and Harnett counties. “That’s where our family is from, where the company is from, where most of our employees are. Mainly, it’s a geographic criteria. … We have a board of directors – originally, it was just me sitting down with my father reviewing the grant requests. In the last six or seven years, we’ve gotten more professional, a staff with grant officers – not many: we only have two people on the payroll. I’m not on the payroll, by the way. “They review and recommend the grantees, and we present it to the board of directors and the board approves it,” he said. Just reading the list of the groups that received almost $2 million in December is enough to set the mind a-racing at the thought of seeing them all coming together. In addition to Step Up Ministry, groups as disparate as the N.C. Symphony, N.C. Museum of Art, Helping Horse Therapeutic Riding Program, Carolina Ballet, Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen, Safe Haven for Cats, and the Food Banks of Central and Eastern North Carolina all received grants from the foundation. Pope, in a news release, said, “The old ‘give a man a fish’ parable is that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but that if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. We believe in doing both.” That’s cool, but too many people don’t consider that, for a man to fish, he at least needs a pole. And a lake.      
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