Nantahala Health Foundation announces its 2020 NIMble grant recipients

October 2, 2020

More than 30 Western North Carolina nonprofits and public service agencies have been awarded Needs Immediately Met, or NIMble, grants from Nantahala Health Foundation in support of programs designed to achieve better health outcomes for regional residents.

Organizations located in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain counties, and the Qualla Boundary, many with immediate needs as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the region, were awarded a total of $272,882. 

“The primary goal of our NIMble grant program is to ensure our quick response to meet our partners’ most crucial needs,” Nantahala Health Foundation Executive Director Lori Bailey said. “In addition to meeting these urgent needs, NIMble has helped us identify and work with organizational leaders who have developed innovative ideas for addressing the social determinants of health in our region.”

NIMble grant funds were awarded in support of programs that address NHF’s funding priorities, which include access to healthcare, education, transportation, alleviation of poverty, and quality of housing. Knowing that organizations working in these areas were facing additional challenges related to COVID-19, Nantahala Health Foundation Board of Directors set aside a portion of their 2020 grantmaking funds as matching dollars for community-donated funds to specifically address COVID impact and recovery efforts throughout the region, according to board Chair Jane Kimsey.

“The staff and volunteers of these organizations have been working especially hard throughout the pandemic to help people in our community,” Kimsey said. “We look forward to our collaboration with each of them as we work together to strengthen our community’s overall health.”

According to Bailey, more than 75% of awarded NIMble grants, or $212,499, will support regional recovery efforts.

“I’d like to express our profound appreciation to those who contributed to our COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Fund,” Bailey said. “Your contributions helped make these grants possible; they will provide critical resources for our region’s most vulnerable citizens.”

NIMble grant funds were distributed into the categories below; projects marked with an asterisk indicate some or all of the proposed work relates to addressing the impacts of COVID-19:

ALLEVIATION OF POVERTY

40% of total funding

  • *Caney Fork Community Development Council – To support the continuation of Council services, specifically the purchase of food boxes and milk to address hunger in the community; to provide Internet for a community hotspot; and facility repairs.
  • *Center for Domestic Peace – To provide digital devices to expand opportunities for access to health and education for victims of domestic violence.
  • *Clay County Senior Services – To purchase tables, chairs and associated storage caddy to ensure the continuation of services while meeting current sanitation standards.
  • *Giving Spoon – To support expanded hours for their cook to meet increased needs related to hunger in Swain County.
  • *Grace Place, A Community Table – To purchase a walk-in freezer to support efforts to address food insecurity in Graham County.
  • *HERE in Jackson County – To support individuals and households obtain and/or maintain permanent housing.
  • *International Friendship Center – To expand services to include bi-lingual career and professional development to meet marginalized families’ need for training and access to fair-paying jobs.
  • *Jackson County Department of AgingTo purchase and install protective barriers to increase safety at three congregate meals sites serving Jackson County seniors.
  • *Mountain Projects – To support Jackson Neighbors in Need, a community-based emergency aid fund that assists low-income residents of Jackson County.
  • *REACH of Cherokee County – To purchase an HVAC system for the Reach of Cherokee County safe-haven shelter.
  • *REACH of Clay County – To purchase TVs, DVDs and other technology devices with Internet connectivity to expand access to healthcare and education for victims of domestic violence residing at the emergency shelter.
  • *State of Franklin Health Council – To support the continuation of the Council’s work to provide nutritious, hot meals to Swain County seniors.
  • *Swain County Health DepartmentTo support the department’s continuation of the In-Home Aide and Chore program, which includes alleviating food insecurities for Swain County seniors.

ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE

29% of total funding

  • *American Red Cross – To support antibody testing and to ensure a safe blood supply across the region. 
  • *Blue Ridge Health – To purchase fetal nonstress test equipment to expand access to these services for expectant mothers in Jackson and Swain counties.
  • *Clay County Schools – To establish three school nursing stations on the school campus to expand access to care for students and the broader community.
  • *Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Swain County – To purchase face coverings and hand sanitizers to supply as personal protective equipment to churches and small businesses in Swain County, while serving to build capacity, momentum and support for the work of the Coalition.
  • *Community Care Clinic of Franklin – To support laboratory fees and urgent diagnostic imaging services for low-income and uninsured members of the community.
  • *Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital – To purchase three body temperature kiosks to be installed at the hospital’s entry points.
  • *Graham County Department of Social Services – To purchase equipment that will enable secure and seamless mobility of the department’s workforce as it reacts to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • Hospice House Foundation of WNC – To purchase an upgraded generator with the capacity to provide electricity to the entire Hospice House facility during power outages.
  • *Smoky Mountains Outreach Foundation – To provide support for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces in need of dental care.

EDUCATION

16% of total funding

QUALITY OF HOUSING

7% of total funding

  • Hinton Rural Life Center – To remediate mold in one of its structures, while simultaneously developing a training video to teach others how to safely perform the procedure.
  • Macon Program for Progress – To support housing rehabilitation and repair for low-income individuals and families in Macon County.

TRANSPORTATION

7% of total funding

  • *Clay County Transportation – To purchase and install Plexi-glass barriers in all fleet vehicles owned by Clay County Transportation.
  • *Vecinos Farmworker Health ProgramTo purchase a patient transportation vehicle and to install COVID-19 protective barriers in the organization’s fleet of vehicles.

Soon after their establishment in early 2019, Nantahala Health Foundation’s Board of Directors focused on strategic planning and information gathering. Soon after hosting an extensive series of listening sessions designed to identify issues challenging Western North Carolina, they defined their 2019 funding priorities and set about allocating funds in support of achieving their mission.

COVID-related safety protocols, including requirements defining meeting sizes and social distancing, prevented NHF from hosting additional in-person listening sessions this summer as they had planned. The pandemic did not, however, hamper the organization’s efforts to support area nonprofits in a variety of ways, including resourcing and distributing personal protective equipment and launching a COVID-19 Impact and Recovery funding drive.

“We have also expanded our use of technology to gather information about community needs,” Bailey said. “We always welcome community input through our website, email and phone calls.”

On the heels of NIMble, NHF announced its Collaborative Health Innovation Program, or CHIP grant cycle, with awards of up to $50,000 being made available to organizations proposing especially innovate approaches to improving health outcomes. Results of this second grant cycle are expected in December.

To learn more about social determinants of health and how they directly impact health outcomes for residents of WNC, visit the N.C. Health and Human Services website at ncdhhs.gov and search the key phrase ‘social determinants of health.’ There you will find an interactive map with a series of overlays showing SDofH indicators and statistics, including education and employment levels, economic stability, housing, transportation, and access to healthy food.

For more information about Nantahala Health Foundation’s mission to work with nonprofit service providers and governmental agencies to improve SDofH throughout the region or to offer input about regional needs related to social determinants of health, please visit nantahalahealthfoundation.org or connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

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