Reflecting the character of the community



Roy Bowen visited Hilton Head for four decades before finally buying his dream island home five years ago. The CEO of the Georgia Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturers Education Foundation knew the first time he and wife Karen visited Long Cove Club that they had found more than a new residence.

“Every place has great golf courses and amenities, but I immediately felt this place was different. I found a community of caring and compassionate people,” said the new chairperson of the Long Cove Fund. “Giving back is in my blood and I found a new home that shares that purpose and drive.”

The members of the Long Cove Club formed the fund in 2003, becoming the first residential community on Hilton Head to create a charitable endowment fund. Seventeen years later, the residents have donated nearly $1.4 million to local nonprofit agencies.

“This work, it reflects the character of the community,” Bowen said. “Our residents don’t just write checks. So many of them are involved with these nonprofits, serving on boards and doing volunteer work.”

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The Fund was created in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry (CFL) and concentrates on four areas of need: health, housing, hunger and education in Beaufort and Jasper counties, with a particular focus on Hilton Head and Bluffton-focused programs.

“It’s amazing to see the work that these nonprofits do in the community. They have very small staffs, but put forth Herculean efforts,” Bowen said. “They are vital to so many here, and our members are determined to do what we can to keep their organizations thriving.”

Half of each donation to the endowment fund is invested, with half committed to funding that

year’s grants. The group created a separate charitable fund in 2014 that disburses all funds raised within that fiscal year. The Fund’s grants are awarded each June.

The COVID pandemic has created devastating challenges to nonprofits. The CFL put out an immediate call to organizations asking for a special COVID relief grant. Long Cove was the first group to respond, with a $20,000 donation matched by CFL.

“To know $40,000 would be going to relief efforts, the way our community responded, it just showed me once again that these folks’ compassion is unsurpassed,” Bowen said.

Long Cove3The endowment fund took a hit from the stock market downturn and the coronavirus shutdown damaged the group’s annual fundraising efforts. But Bowen said the Fund’s supporters proved to be at their best in the toughest of times.

“We typically have a pair of events, a Tour of Homes and a sports weekend extravaganza, to raise money and awareness, but we had to cancel both this year,” Bowen said. “That didn’t stop our sponsors, vendors and donors. We didn’t have one cancelled contribution.”

The Fund awarded $151,750 in grants to 34 nonprofits in 2020, with particular focus this year on groups involved in hunger and housing efforts.

“The impact of COVID made it clear where we needed to pay special attention in 2020,” said Bowen, who said nonprofits such as Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen and Second Helpings got additional funds this year.

Bowen was named the fund’s chair in July and said that he and the Fund advisory committee know their work will be even more important in the years ahead.

“We’ve seen family and friends hit hard by COVID, but tough times challenge us to fight even harder for what we believe in,” Bowen said.

He said committee members are determined to raise the fund’s current $640,000 endowment to $1 million and beyond.

“Heart and goodwill wins out every time,” Bowen said. “We will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.”