Support for the Sheriff

by | Oct 11, 2023 | Nonprofit, Pender County

With consent from Sheriff Alan Cutler, Hampstead resident Cynthia Tart led the charge to establish the Pender Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation.

Residents of Pender County came together at the inaugural Taste of Pender Charity Dinner on July 22 to celebrate the formation of Pender Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation, Inc.

The purpose of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is to provide charitable support for programs, equipment, technology and other items the sheriff’s office tax-provided budget does not include. The Foundation’s Sunshine Committee, Jail Ministry, K9 Committee, Scholarship Committee and Events Committee have begun developing projects that bring residents together to assist the sheriff’s office.

Cynthia Tart, a resident of Hampstead, proposed the idea to Sheriff Alan Cutler a year ago after she and her husband, Danny, attended the first Pender County Citizens Academy. Cutler consented, and the process began to form the foundation.

“It was a four-month process to complete the documents to form the foundation, and we couldn’t start without getting funds to pay for the start-up,” Tart says.

Frank Williams Building Company Inc. in Scott’s Hill, the foundation’s first donor, provided the needed funds.

Pender County Sheriffs Office

Tart reached out to residents and formed the 13-member board of directors, and she agreed to be president. She has leadership experience, having been executive director of Communities In Schools (CIS) for 20 years in Brunswick County and a North Carolina CIS regional coach for the eastern counties for three years. Jennifer Brady is treasurer, Kiren Jaswel is secretary, Savannah Holman is in charge of events and fundraising, Pastor Joey Canady leads the Jail Ministry Program, and other board members include Mike Ortiz, Rhett Pollock, Art Saurer, Jeff and Cindy Caldwell, Sgt. Chester Ward, Jennie Coleman, Sam Jones and Carla Cotton.

Tart’s idea for the foundation began when she and Danny moved to Hampstead in 2020 and wanted to learn what programs Pender County offered its residents. The notice that the first-ever Citizens Academy would begin in July 2021 attracted her attention, so she and Danny enrolled.

“I thought that would be a good way to learn about Pender County,” Tart says. She explains that other counties across the United States have these informative training programs. She had attended the one in Brunswick County, where she and Danny lived for more than 40 years.

The 90-minute sessions at Pender County meet Tuesday evenings for seven weeks, and participants learn about the sheriff’s office responsibilities including jail administration, the narcotics division, the 911 center, the K9 unit, helicopter and marine patrol and investigations.

As she processed what she was learning and realized the needs, Tart considered how she could support the sheriff’s office. Pender County has 65,737 residents as of July 1, 2022, with 59 percent between the ages of 18 and 65. The academy brings the community together, Tart says, and she believed a charitable foundation with all funds benefiting the sheriff’s office was appropriate. The foundation includes residents and businesses, all volunteering their time and donations.

“The community is willing to help,” Tart says. To determine the sheriff’s priorities, Tart asked Cutler for his wish list. “Number one, my inmates need Jesus,” he said. “He doesn’t want inmates coming back to jail,” Tart says. “That’s how the jail ministry was formed.”

Currently, seven to 10 ministers of different denominations are involved in the jail ministry and are available to assist inmates who request their help. The ministries meet monthly to decide what is needed.

“The dream is to have a transition home for the released inmates who have no place to go,” Tart says. “This is to help them, so they don’t go back to jail.”

Second on Cutler’s wish list is to provide incentives and appreciation gifts to employees.

Sheriffs Foundation Pender County NC

“I would love to be able to give employees gifts monthly to build morale and let them know how much I and the community appreciate them,” Cutler says.

Tart says the Sunshine Committee formed to provide appreciation baskets and incentives. Erich Fritz and his wife, Alexa, owners of A Taste of Sunrise Coffee House in Hampstead, donated the first gift basket.

“I am a retired firefighter medic, and I like to support first responders,” Erich says. “I have a soft heart for firefighters, and I support their charities.” The basket contains a pound of their house-blend coffee, crackers, candy and novelty items. “Our goal is to have four gift items from the community in the sheriff’s office at all times,” Tart says.

The Taste of Pender event at Hampstead Women’s Events Center on July 22 was created for the sole purpose of raising funds to benefit the sheriff’s office.

“I feel it’s a privilege to do this and to have the help, experience and willingness of the board members, and to have the sheriff give us a chance,” Tart says. “This shows we care. I love being here.”

Can you help?
Ways to support the Pender Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation include:
– Donate gift baskets, vacation packages, gift cards or gift items to the Sunshine Program
– Make a monetary donation
– Host a community fundraiser
– Become a foundation volunteer or serve on a committee
– Participate in the Pender County Sheriff’s Citizens Academy
Mail donations to the Pender Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 363, Hampstead, NC 28443.

For more information:
call (910) 523-1012 or email

Photography by Vicky Oliver

About the author

Jo Ann Mathews

Jo Ann Mathews

Jo Ann was a freelance writer and English teacher before her husband, Steve, and she moved from Flossmoor, Illinois to Southeastern North Carolin in 2000. Both of them are Illinois natives, but Jo Ann loves to write and Steve loves to golf so our area offered the perfect venue. One of their sons is a naval officer and lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and their three sons. The other is an investment banker in San Francisco. Jo Ann enjoys swimming, jazz, needlepoint and her Kindle.