The following are remarks prepared by Fred Stephens for a board sponsored farewell dinner during June of 2016.

Thank You for the thoughtfulness to have such a dinner. I am most grateful. It has been an Honor/Privilege to serve Brunswick Family Assistance and work with and for you in the capacity of a Volunteer, a Board Member and for the last 4 years Executive Director.

As I reflect on my tenure with BFA and especially on the last 4 years, there are many people, places and events that will stay with me forever, and I will touch on these in a moment.

I leave with some trepidation (fear, anxiety, misgivings, unease)… primarily because I will miss terribly the staff and volunteers of BFA. I am very proud of BFA and I feel privileged to have been able to serve this Agency. I will miss being engaged in doing the important work of this agency, which is to assist individuals and families in crisis… but I am anxious to spend more time with my wife, family and friends. We have six very active and engaged grandchildren with whom Nonny and Poppy want to spend more time.

So as I prepare to leave, in what is a planned/orderly transition, I want to say thank you to three people. In selecting three folks, I knowingly run the risk of offending someone not included but THAT IS NOT my intention.

First, I want to thank two Lindas…
– My wife of 51 years, and true partner in my life’s journey. She has always been my greatest supporter, while being my most severe critic. She always keeps me focused on doing the right thing and doing it for the right reason(s). Thank You for encouraging me and sharing with me this journey with Brunswick Family Assistance. We have some unknown amount of time left to joy the fruits of our labor. I will cherish the thought of looking forward to those moments.
– Second, Linda Turner. She knows her job, knows the agency, knows the business. We all look to her for guidance. She has traits I admire and value highly: Trustworthy – reliable – dependable – confidential. I seek, like all of you, her advice and guidance as do Program Managers (Stephanie and Olivia).
– Third, Ken Papaj, for his friendship and sage advice and counsel; for being trustworthy and confidential, and for his Board Leadership, QENO, Policies and Procedures, Committee Structure, Financial Oversight (budgeting) and other leadership and proactive actions. And other things we have done… B4B, Recognition Breakfast, Volunteer Breakfast, Fund Raising events (Mike’s Garage Band)… August 13th.

The four years were truly a rewarding experience.

The four years were not all smooth sailing; in fact the seas became quite rocky and almost terminally so at times. But through it all we moved this agency forward on behalf of the citizens we serve.

I know that I received FAR more than I gave.

Four things of which I am most proud…
1. The Staff, within BFA and The Family Thrift Store
As I leave I know there is passionate, committed, knowledgeable staff in place to carry on the Mission and fulfill the Vision of Brunswick Family Assistance… the honorable, friendly, understanding, firm (resolute to follow BFA policy guidelines) manner in which we treat our clients (BFA) and customers (Family Thrift Store).
To the staff: Very frequently we make decisions together as to whether or not to support or how much… I cherish these interactions.
2. I’m proud that BFA has increased its spending on direct assistance over the time period of 2012 to the present by 60% ($162K to $259K + in kind >$500K) while increasing our Net Equity by 65% ($312K to $516K). We have sustainability, and we have a very good reputation among our key stakeholders. Annual appeal up 18%, $91k. Individuals up 11%, $33k. Faith Based up 8%, $119K. BEMC up 11%, $70k. Special Events up 12%. It’s good to always remember one bad work/action takes a factor of 10 to overcome.
3. I’m pleased with the facilities we now have for BFA and the Thrift Store.
4. I’m proud of the many important partnerships and collaborative relationships we have established over the past 4 years. At the risk of unintentionally overlooking a few, I think of:
Brunswick County (including Commissioners, County Management and DSS); The Brunswick Beacon, Brunswick Chamber of Commerce (and other Chambers); Brunswick County Board of Realtors); BEMC; Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, BSRI, the New Hope Clinic, SPOIFC, faith based and civic organizations and individuals, too numerous to enumerate here (please check our webpage,

Now for a brief peek into the future…

There are always unknowns and uncertainties, decisions to be made without benefit of all the facts, and needed information for a more certain outcome on those decisions. But if we strive to the Right Thing, for the Right reason, respecting always the individuals whose lives will be most impacted, we can make our decision the best of the possible outcomes.

The 4-Way Test considers the following questions in respect to thinking, saying or doing:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

One last comment:
As I have had the privilege over the past month of June to work with my successor and to introduce him to our key stakeholders in the Cape Fear Area, I was struck by one comment… this from the all important Cape Fear Memorial Foundation Board Chair Mr. Garry Garris: “You said you would have a month of transition with the new Executive Director and you were again good for your word. Other nonprofits say this, but Brunswick Family Assistance has done it.”

And while on the subject of the Succession Plan… I had complete confidence that the Board selection committee would find the best possible replacement, and in my judgement they have done so.

I believe the new Executive Director can take Brunswick Family Assistance to even greater heights and have our Mission and Vision become a reality for more of our neighbors and citizens of Brunswick County.

Thank you and God Bless this Agency and each of you.

Fred Stephens, Executive Director (retired)