Groundbreaking Held for Prison Ministry in Columbus County

TABOR CITY - Friends and supporters recently gathered in Columbus County to break ground on a 5,160 square foot building which will provide overnight accommodations for family members who are visiting relatives at the adjacent prison facility.

Visionary leaders are building the Matthew 25 Center within sight of the Tabor Correctional Institution, home to 1,750 prisoners.

Funded by area citizens, churches, and businesses, the Center is designed to provide a place of shelter and retreat. Architectural plans include a dining area, playground for children, and four hotel-type rooms.

The Rye Foundation has made an investment of $10,000 in the project.

Burnett Coleman, a retired banker who led the fundraising drive, explained the primary purpose of the Center in three words - maintaining family relationships. “We believe it is important for children and other family members to have ongoing contact and dialogue with the inmates,” he said.

Warren Steen, the President of the Rye Foundation, attended the groundbreaking and left with a great appreciation for the supporters in southeastern North Carolina. “These leaders really understand that when a prisoner comes to Tabor City, their family is in crisis,” Steen said. “And they realize that the children need extra encouragement and support, so they can choose a different path in life.”

Steen referenced a report issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It showed that 179,000 children in North Carolina had experienced separation from a parent or step-parent due to incarceration. He said that the Rye Foundation has funded other projects aimed at helping prisoners’ children in Burgaw, Taylorsville, and Winston-Salem.

UPDATE–Winner Announced for Ray Bryan Award:

Young Life on the Crystal Coast

This year, Christmas came a few days early for a Carteret County organization.

The Rye Foundation announced the very first recipient of its Ray Bryan Award. The winner is Young Life on the Crystal Coast. The award recognizes a North Carolina charity for “making a positive impact on children and youth.”

In addition to receiving the prestigious award, the organization will also receive $25,000 to enhance and expand its programming.

“This is a great surprise and also a great honor,” said P.J. Barclay, who serves as area director of Young Life. “We promise to use the funds to increase our ministry to students in the area.”

Warren Steen, the President of the Rye Foundation, explained that the charity aggressively seeks out North Carolina projects in the areas of religion, youth, and education. “There’s no Mr. Rye or Mrs. Rye at our foundation,” he said, “but we do have a lot of people who care deeply about helping children.”

According to Steen, the award is given in memory of Ray Bryan, a Goldsboro businessman and philanthropist who was actively involved with the Rye Foundation from its establishment in 2001 until his death. He died on March 30, 2016 at the age of 84.

Led for several years by volunteers, Young Life on the Crystal Coast brought Barclay on board as its first staff member in June of 2016. The organization provides Bible study, summer camp, and weekly outreach events at three area schools. Nationally, the ministry is involved in over 6,900 schools and other locations.

According to Barclay, the funds will be utilized in four areas:

  • Scholarships for camp
  • Curriculum materials
  • Leadership training
  • Operational support

The Rye Foundation has earmarked a total of $100,000 to honor the legacy of Mr. Bryan. “Our philanthropy will be directed at organizations that see the God-given potential in each child,” stated Steen.

Other groups in Eastern North Carolina have been the beneficiaries of Rye funding in previous years. These include: the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell, Camp Albemarle in Newport, the Matthew 25 Center in Burgaw, and Camp Cale in Hertford.

Churches, Rye Build Home for Wounded Vet

 “American Hero Project” Nears Completion

When 89 churches announced plans to build a home for a wounded veteran, the Rye Foundation became one of the first organizations to lend its support.

Today, a 3-year dream has become reality and the 1,358 square foot home is under roof near the Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem. Funds from the Rye Foundation were earmarked to provide a sparkling new playground at the home.

Bill Ammons, who coordinated volunteer efforts among the churches, said the local congregations came from five counties. Those were Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, and Surry.

“When everything is completed, we expect the home to be appraised at $140,000 or more,” Ammons said.


Volunteer work crews handled most of the construction, and a formal dedication ceremony is being organized.

Ammons and his team worked with a Triad nonprofit to identify a suitable resident. Veterans Helping Veterans Heal provides a wide array of services, including job training and assistance in returning to civilian life.

Warren Steen, the President of the Rye Foundation, said that research shows that families of veterans face emotional, financial, and spiritual issues. “Our prayer is that the new playground will show that people really care about veterans and their families,” Steen stated.

Recently, several members of the Board of Directors toured the “American Hero Project” to see how their philanthropic gifts are making a difference.

Cooperation was evident throughout the project. A vivid example of this cooperative spirit occurred during the construction phase, when a well-dressed lady drove onto the site. She had noticed the large sign announcing the Hero House. After getting out of her car, she reached into her purse, and pulled out her checkbook.

“My father served in the military,” she said, “and I want to make a donation.”

Rye Announces $100,000 for Ray Bryan Award

Leaders of the Rye Foundation have announced that a new award has been established to recognize a children’s charity that is making a significant impact on North Carolina children.

The Ray Bryan Award will be presented annually, and a total of $100,000 has been designated for the recipients.

Mr. Bryan, a Goldsboro businessman and philanthropist, died on March 30, 2016 at the age of 84. He served as an Honorary member of the Rye Foundation Board of Directors from the formation of the foundation in 2001 until his death.

Warren Steen, the President of the Rye Foundation, said, “Ray Bryan left a legacy of caring about children. The award that bears his name will allow us to expand and enhance our philanthropy to boys and girls throughout North Carolina.”

Steen emphasized Mr. Bryan’s personal involvement and his personal investment. “Ray understood the mission of the Rye Foundation,” he continued, “and his generosity helped us to carry out that mission with care and compassion.”

Each year, a selection process will help identify nonprofit organizations which are making significant contributions through creative programming. The Board of Directors will vote on the award winner, and oversee the funding process to ensure that all charitable gifts are used effectively and efficiently.

The first recipient of the Ray Bryan Award will be named in December.

News and Notes

Champions for Children Day
At regular intervals, the Board of Directors schedules a day to meet with leaders of children’s charities. This is a time to learn about trends, major programming plans, and funding needs. Following the recent event, the Foundation has hosted a total of 115 organizations through the years.

Richard Petty Hosts Session
Hall of Fame race car driver Richard Petty recently hosted a strategic planning meeting at his Victory Junction Camp in Randolph County. Warren Steen attended and spoke on the importance of “leaving a legacy” through wills, bequests, and planned gifts.

Children of Prisoners
According to a report issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, over 179,000 North Carolina children experienced separation due a parent or step-parent being incarcerated. The Rye Foundation understands that these boys and girls can benefit from Christian camps, positive role models, and music enrichment. Charitable gifts have been made to help faith-based groups in Taylorsville, Burgaw, Tabor City and Winston-Salem reach the children of prisoners.

Site Tours Remain Popular
Rye leaders have recently visited Camp Vandemere in Pamlico County, Kamp Kiwanis in Davidson County, and the American Hero Project in Forsyth County. Guests are always welcome, and the tours show how boys and girls are being loved and supported at ministry settings across North Carolina.

“Make Your Will” Month
Many supporters have discovered that the best way to make a significant charitable gift is through their last will and testament. We appreciate all who practice Christian stewardship by helping children through their bequest to the Rye Foundation.