Sentara Health celebrates partnership with NC community non-profit organizations

Sentara has invested more than $2 million in northeast North Carolina since 2021

Sentara Health hosted leaders from 31 local non-profit organizations for a Community Partner Celebration on December 13 at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, NC. At the event, Sentara praised the organizations for their collaboration and commitment to improving the lives of the communities they serve.

“There is power in partnerships, and I am humbled to call each of you in this room our partners,” said Teresa Watson, president of Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (SAMC), as she addressed the community partners.

Since 2021, Sentara has invested more than $2 million in grants to non-profit organizations and faith-based leaders in northeastern North Carolina through the Sentara Cares program. Grant recipients collaborate with Sentara to provide an array of community services including behavioral health, access to care, affordable housing, food security, and education and training.

“Sentara is proud to celebrate our community partners and the amazing work they do for our friends and neighbors every single day,” said Terrie Edwards, Sentara’s senior vice president for the Southside Region. “Through Sentara grants, scholarships, and sponsorships, we’ve partnered with local organizations dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in the neighborhoods that we call home. It’s an honor to be among these change-makers today and to recognize their impact.


Grant highlight: Foodbank of the Albemarle

With the help of a Sentara Cares grant in 2022, Foodbank of the Albemarle was able to introduce the Teaching Kitchen program, an innovative in-person culinary literacy program. The Teaching Kitchen can assist residents in learning how to prepare nutritious meals and stretch their food budgets. A virtual class option will be available in 2024.

In addition, Sentara’s partnership in 2023 assisted the organization’s creation of three new Client Choice pantries. With a service model that resembles a small grocery store more than a traditional food pantry, Client Choice pantries allow residents to select food based on their nutritional and medical needs, while maintaining their dignity and cultural identities.

“These programs will make our food pantry model less transactional and more transformational,” said Justine Koksal, Foodbank of the Albemarle’s program director.


Grant highlight: Elizabeth City Habitat for Humanity

A Sentara grant in 2022 enabled the Elizabeth City Habitat for Humanity to repair homes for low-income seniors in the area. Additional funding in 2023 provided the organization with the resources to construct a new home for a local family in need.

“Sentara has gifted us twice now, and it has been a phenomenal experience for us,” said Jane Elfring, vice president of Elizabeth City Habitat for Humanity.


Grant highlight: Dream Hunt and Fishing Program

The Dream Hunt and Fishing Program is a wish-granting program for children of fallen first responders, as well as children with critical illnesses, diseases, or physical handicaps who are interested experiencing the great outdoors. Programs include hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, and environmental education programs. In addition, children can learn more about the wildlife around them through mobile animal exhibits. Through their programs and initiatives, the organization was able to assist 25,525 children in 2023. When addressing the event’s fellow attendees, Dream Hunt and Fishing Program Board Member Ryan Boyce shared that their partnership with Sentara allowed them to reach 16,000 children that they otherwise would not have been able to.


Grant highlight: College of Albemarle Foundation

Dr. Catherine DeHart, executive director for the College of Albemarle Foundation, praised Sentara’s commitment to the community and the future healthcare professionals attending the college. Over the last two years, Sentara scholarships assisted 122 students in pursuing their education in health care. With the establishment of a student emergency fund, Sentara ensured that enrolled students experiencing financial or medical hardships would be able to continue in their studies.


Partnerships that strengthen the community

Throughout the event, representatives from Sentara and the local non-profits emphasized the importance of collaboration with one another. Sherry Norquist, Sentara’s executive director of community engagement and impact, echoed this sentiment. “All of us serving this region must communicate and work together to make the resources go further and prevent duplication,” said Norquist. “By understanding the assets and resources we have, we can work smarter together — not harder — and that is why we are here today.”


To learn more about the many ways that Sentara partners with the community, visit Sentara’s 2022 Community Engagement and Impact Report.