Nantahala Health Foundation launches COVID-19 Impact Recovery Fund

Because the current pandemic facing us is certain not to be the last, Nantahala Health Foundation has launched a COVID-19 Impact Recovery Fund to match charitable donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000 and better position ourselves to bring organizations together to prepare for a post-COVID future.

The immediate threat has always been that the virus would spread and create pressures on our communities’ limited healthcare systems. Beyond that, however, we anticipate dramatic short- and long-term effects on our region’s education systems, workforce and local economies. By growing our resources and matching donations from the public, we will be better equipped to respond quickly and sustain that response over the duration of the recovery.

Launching a major fundraising campaign now gives those who are able an opportunity to make a tremendous impact on future health outcomes in Western North Carolina. Even so, as a relatively new regional nonprofit, yet to distinguish ourselves and begin the work of earning the community’s trust, asking for help is not typically one of the first things we’d undertake.

However, these are not typical times, and our effort to address this health threat is not our first accomplishment in support of our mission to eliminate barriers to better health. While it’s true we are new to Western North Carolina’s nonprofit landscape, our regional roots run deep, starting with our 10-member volunteer board with representation from each of the six counties served by NHF, as well as the Qualla Boundary.

We were established a little more than a year ago with a mission to eliminate barriers to health, and our hard work is already changing lives. The most recent example is our partnership with Dogwood Health Trust and other Mission Health System legacy foundations to source, manufacture and delivery vital personal protective equipment to medical professionals, first responders and essential front-line workers throughout the region. Understanding that much more would be needed to prepare for a post-COVID-19 reality, our board voted unanimously earlier this month to establish the COVID-19 Impact Recovery Fund and match donations up to $100,000.

Because the science overwhelming supports the ideas that an individual’s health is influenced first by where one lives, learns, works and plays, our mission is to improve health outcomes by addressing the region’s social determinants of health. Prior to our swift response to the current global crisis, we conducted several community listening sessions throughout 2019 to learn from nonprofit service providers how we could best work together. As a results of those listening sessions, we partnered with 28 WNC organizations and were proud to invest some $1.5 million into their work and into the local economy during our first grant cycle.

COVID-19 has forced us to adapt quickly. Thankfully, we are able to take what we’ve learned and apply it to what we’ve known all along: that adaption promotes growth, and that Western North Carolinians are resilient, hard-working people. We are more than willing to roll up our sleeves and help our neighbors in need.