David W. Riggs, Executive Vice President of the John William Pope Foundation, made this statement in response to a recent documentary by Bill Moyers:
Bill Moyers, through Moyers & Company, recently released a documentary titled “State of Conflict: North Carolina.” Broadcast through the PBS network on Jan. 3, the one-hour program falsely portrayed the charitable work of the John William Pope Foundation and of our Chairman and President, Art Pope.
“State of Conflict: North Carolina” repeated the false claim that Art Pope and the Pope Foundation “bought” the state of North Carolina, mostly through giving to public policy nonprofits that advocate for common sense free-market reforms. Mr. Moyers presented nothing new in his documentary — in fact, he’s late to the party. Many left-wing operatives have hurled similar accusations for years. The claims have never stuck because they are entirely false.
But Mr. Moyers doesn’t merely repeat a falsehood. Worse, he conceals the fact that the Pope Foundation is not the largest grantor to public policy groups in North Carolina. While the Pope Foundation gives around $5 million to conservative, free-market organizations in North Carolina each year, that number pales in comparison to the $11 million given annually by left-wing foundations to progressive groups in the Tar Heel State.
In 2011 alone, three progressive foundations gave generously to left-of-center, liberal groups in North Carolina: The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ($9.2 million in grants), the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation ($614,000 in grants), and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation ($968,000 in grants).
If North Carolina can indeed be bought, as Mr. Moyers and his allies claim, then shouldn’t it go to the highest bidder, the side that spent the most money?
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The Daily Dispatch, based out of Henderson, N.C., yesterday reported on the Pope Foundation’s $35,000 in grants to food pantries in Vance County. The grants were part of a larger $185,000 given by the Pope Foundation in October to humanitarian charities.
LifeLine Outreach Inc., a nonprofit based in Vance County that alleviates homelessness
and assists women and children in crisis. (Photo credit: Daily Dispatch)
The Dispatch reported:
Local non-profits and faith-based organizations took a hit when the federal government closed for 16 days.
The John William Pope Foundation made its yearly donations to Vance County charities a few months early this year to help offset the impact of the shutdown.
“We heard on the ground that the federal government shutdown was having an effect on these charities doing this humanitarian work and what we decided to do was to expedite our end of the year funding to cover the shortfall caused by the shutdown,” said David Riggs of the Pope Foundation.
The foundation is a private family foundation focused on humanitarian charities in Wake and Vance counties.
The foundation donated $5,000 to Area Christians Together in Service, $10,000 to Life Line Outreach Inc. and $20,000 to the United Way of Vance County.
Twanna Jones, executive director of ACTS, said her organization has not received a Pope Foundation grant in the past.
“They heard about the great work that we were doing in the Vance County community,” Jones said.
ACTS provides a daily soup kitchen on weekdays, a food pantry, backpack buddies, and Meals on Wheels for the disabled and elderly.
Jones has plans to expand her operation with a mobile feeding program that supplies meals to all areas of need.
She said the grant money would help with the expansion as well as day-to-day operations.
“My goal is to have a seven-day a week soup kitchen that feeds twice a day,” Jones said.
For the first time this year, ACTS will serve lunch on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to noon.
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Responding to false statements recently made in a syndicated column, Pope Foundation Executive Vice President David Riggs corrected the record in this letter to the editor in The News & Observer:
The Aug. 20 Other Opinion piece “The massacre of the N.C. model” by Bloomberg’s Al Hunt contained false statements about Art Pope and the John William Pope Foundation.
Hunt wrote, “Pope has given to the Republican Party through his political action committee, foundations and personal contributions.” This is unequivocally false. Art Pope is a proud Republican, but he does not have his own political action committee. His personal contributions to the Republican Party do not come close to $1 million, even over his lifetime.
The Pope Foundation, a charitable organization, has never contributed anything to the Republican Party. By reprinting Hunt’s false statement that the Pope Foundation contributed to the Republican Party, you falsely accused the foundation of a major violation of the IRS Code and campaign finance laws.
The Pope Foundation has given millions of dollars to charities, including humanitarian, arts, education and public policy nonprofits. Humanitarian charity helps those in immediate need, treating the symptoms of poverty. The Pope Foundation’s support for public policy groups and those empowering individuals has the long-term goal of curing the underlying causes of poverty.
Publishing the false and defamatory statement that the Pope Foundation gives to the Republican Party was a disservice both to your readers and to the charities supported by the Pope Foundation.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, JOHN WILLIAM POPE FOUNDATION
Immediately, my eye was drawn to the first name on the list of charities and universities the Pope Foundation blessed with $1.2 million in grants last year.
The Alliance Medical Ministry? Art Pope, Republican archenemy of some Wake County school board Democrats, gave $10,000 to the charity where Dr. Anne McLaurin, former school board Democrat, provides medical care to the uninsured? What nefarious motive must he have?
We need our selfish, rich, conservative caricatures to eschew humanitarian efforts so we can say they want to hang on to their haddock. Every conservative, we know, believes that giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish just keeps the man standing there with his hand out.
”If you are cold, starving, sick, it’s hard to learn a trade or profession so you can provide for your family. You do need direct humanitarian help,” Pope said recently in a lengthy interview. “You can call it treating the symptoms when you just provide food and shelter when you want to treat the disease, which is poverty. But sometimes you do treat the symptoms first or the person may die.”
Humanitarian aid actually is the fourth prong of the Pope Foundation’s charitable efforts – the other three being public policy, education and the arts. Given the amount of unfavorable press Pope has received this year, one might expect any talk of prongs to refer to a pitchfork.
An October article in The New Yorker, headlined “State for Sale,” chronicled the role three Pope Foundation-backed public policy groups played in the Republican takeover of the General Assembly in 2010.
Pope has been characterized as having a “plantation mentality” because Variety Wholesalers, his family’s retail business, employs some part-time workers at minimum wage. He also has been accused of taking advantage of blacks because many of his stores are in low-income neighborhoods. The N.C. Association of Educators even called for a boycott of the stores, which include Rose’s and Maxway.
It’s painfully hard to understand why detractors demonize a man for providing affordable goods in low-income areas and why they want to jeopardize the jobs of the 7,000 people he employs with a boycott.
“When we do make money from the company, most of it we’re reinvesting in the company and still creating more jobs,” Pope said. “Every day we sell clothing for an affordable price, every day we make a payroll, we’re enriching lives.”
In addition to the Alliance Medical Ministry grant, the Pope Foundation gave $5,000 to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, $5,000 to Hope Reins of Raleigh, $10,000 to Habitat for Humanity, $10,000 to Hospice of Wake County, $5,000 to the Interfaith Food Shuttle, $25,000 to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, $5,000 to the Raleigh Rescue Mission, $5,000 to the Salvation Army, $5,000 to the Shepherd’s Table, $25,000 to StepUp Ministry, $10,000 to Urban Ministries, $30,000 to the YMCA – and $5,000 to Safe Haven for Cats.
You mean Art Pope doesn’t eat cats for breakfast?
“I’m a dog person also,” said Pope, who has a 17-year-old she-cat named Rocky. “I’m an equal opportunity animal lover.”
‘Yeah, it’s working’
In December, the Pope Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary with a dinner that raised $300,000 for StepUp Ministry. The Raleigh nonprofit helps more than 600 low-wage and homeless people move their lives to stability – job, family and home – each year.
“They provide life skills and job skills, teach them to manage budgets, so those worse off in our society, in our county, can get a hand up to provide for themselves and their families,” Pope said. “A lot of those at StepUp have received direct charity through food kitchens; some suffered from child abuse, some from substance abuse, and they need help there as well. We try to accomplish the whole range.”
Being able to honor StepUp was one of the highlights of his year, Pope said.
“Looking at the clients of StepUp who were at the dinner who spoke to a big audience and then also spoke one on one with us, that was a ‘Yeah, it’s working’ moment,” Pope said, fists in the air. “We can make a difference.”
In the longer term, Pope said, he’d like to end poverty so people don’t need charity.
“Until we get there, we still need to provide direct humanitarian help,” he said.
Addressing the divide
Of course, it’s the path to “there” that so divides liberals and conservatives.
Pope believes protecting the free-market economy, “subject to the rule of law with the government providing essential services,” creates the conditions “where people can be successful and provide for their families and raise themselves out of poverty, so the next generation will do better.”
His support of the John Locke Foundation and other conservative public policy groups “is just as intentional to alleviate poverty as direct charity like the Food Bank and Habitat. One is treating the short-term, immediate needs and symptoms, and the other addresses the underlying causes of poverty and will eliminate poverty for more people in the long term.”
Disagree with him. Debate him. But don’t demonize him.
People are complex. Always assigning dark motives to the one-dimensional foes we create makes it easier to feel morally superior, but it makes it harder to solve our problems.
Art Pope, who became chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers Inc. after his father’s death in 2006, was a reluctant participant in the family business.
“When I was an undergrad at Carolina, my father wanted me to get a business degree. I got a political science degree,” Pope said. “When my father wanted me to go get an MBA, I not only got a law degree, but I got it at Duke. My father was a huge Carolina supporter. When I graduated from Duke Law School, my father wanted me to come into the family business, and I went into private practice. I spent several years practicing law, and I thoroughly enjoyed being a practicing attorney.
“My father, in 1986 – I had planned to stay in the governor’s office one year because I didn’t plan to be a career state employee, even as counsel to Gov. Martin, so I returned to my old law firm – but my father approached me with a fairly attractive offer. After being on my own for years, I felt comfortable working for the family company for the first time. My project was to start the Pope Foundation that year.”
Asked whether he gets great joy from being able to give so much money away through the foundation, Pope said what he gets is satisfaction.
“Joy isn’t quite the right word,” Pope said. “You regret that someone is in a position of need. I don’t get joy giving people food. I wish they weren’t hungry to begin with.”
Pope also gets satisfaction from climbing mountains – he has conquered Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America, and Kilimanjaro – and avoiding caves.
“When I read about people who go spelunking in caves, that absolutely horrifies me,” he said. “Put me on the edge of the mountain looking a mile down, but put me in an enclosed space? No, thank you.”
The John William Pope Foundation contributed $1.2 million to local charities and universities last year. The foundation is a private, family foundation, supported by the late John W. Pope, Sr., of Raleigh, his wife, Joyce W. Pope, and their children: Art Pope of Raleigh, Amanda Pope of Citra, Fla., and their late son, John William Pope, Jr. The Pope Foundation receives additional support from the family’s business, Variety Wholesalers, Inc., which owns and operates Roses, Maxway, Super 10 and other discount stores. It has offices and distribution centers in Raleigh and Henderson.
Alliance Medical Ministry $10,000
American Red Cross-Triangle Chapter $5,000
Asheville School, The $225,000
Barium Springs Home for Children $10,000
Blessed Sacrament School $10,000
Capitol Commission $10,000
Carolina Ballet $25,000
Disabilities Education Support Center $5,000
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina $5,000
Full Gospel Tabernacle Incorporated $25,000
Godwin Presbyterian Church $5,000
H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library, Inc. of Vance County $10,000
Habitat for Humanity – Wake County $10,000
Henderson YMCA $5,000
Hope Reins of Raleigh $5,000
Hospice of Wake County Foundation $10,000
Interfaith Food Shuttle $5,000
Lifeline Outreach, Inc. $3,000
North Carolina Opera $10,000
North Carolina Symphony $25,000
NC Theatre $25,000
North Carolina Youth Legislative Assembly Administration $5,000
Neuse Christian Academy $2,500
Occoneechee Council – Boy Scouts of America $50,000
Performance Edge $5,000
Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina $25,000
Raleigh Charter High School $25,000
Raleigh Fine Arts Society $25,000
Raleigh Rescue Mission $5,000
Ravenscroft School $25,000
Rex Healthcare Foundation $5,000
SAFE Haven for Cats $5,000
Salvation Army of Wake County $5,000
Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen, The $5,000
StepUp Ministry $25,000
United Way of Vance County $10,000
Upper Room Christian Academy $10,000
Urban Ministries of Wake County $10,000
Vance County Historical Society $5,000
Virginia Episcopal School $25,000
White Memorial Presbyterian Church $50,000
STAFF WRITER BURGETTA EPLIN WHEELER
email@example.com or 919-829-4825
Source: News & Observer