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Larry Zieverink made a difference.

By Barbara Goodmon

[06.04.04] —  Larry Zieverink, or Mr. Z, as he preferred to be called, was laid to rest last week.

Wake County will miss him, but his legacy of good works will continue to make a difference in thousands of lives in the years to come.

Everyone who knew Mr. Z thought of him as a politician as well as a true friend and advocate for people who struggled with poverty, mental illness and substance abuse.

But most people probably did not think of him as a philanthropist, as he was not a wealthy man.

He was a humble man. He never told anyone what he personally did for others — he gave groceries to people from his small store when they could not afford to pay him; the down-and-out alcoholics who came to him because they had no place to go; and the mentally ill he helped out when they could not afford treatment or medications.

In addition to personal resources he so generously shared, right up to the time of his death, he used his influence in politics to identify local and state dollars to create programs like the county’s alcohol treatment program, Fellowship Hall, and The Healing Place to serve those who struggled.

He knew it was not enough to give of his personal resources: He needed to help bring about programs and policy change that could put people back on their feet.

I personally believe that philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes. The common denominator among philanthropists is that they all make a difference.

The most common form of philanthropy we read or hear about is large contributions that make tremendous impacts in a community.

Mr. Z’s philanthropy came in another shape, a much less common form but one that has made and will continue to make a big difference in our community.

Mr. Z, my friend and fellow philanthropist, I will miss you but will continue to feel your presence in the legacy you have left behind.


Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.

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