Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
The Macon County Board of Commissioners approved $75,000 in funding to nonprofits serving the needs of citizens within the county during its April board meeting. The funding, which the board allocates annually to the Community Funding Pool, is intended to fill funding gaps for nonprofits that provide services that otherwise might not be available to citizens in Macon County. A Community Funding Pool task force, with members chosen by commissioners, consider applications and make recommendations to the board who make final funding decisions.
– The Bascom in Highlands was approved for $311 for a newly established partnership with Macon County Schools STEM Program. The funding will support an annual Macon STEM Fair where Macon County students will be invited to learn about the Bascom’s Photography Artist in Residence and participate in hands-on photography exercises. The funding will be used to purchase supplies, a software subscription, and travel. The Bascom also received funding in 2021 to support the photography program.
– The Franklin Amateur Swim Team applied for a grant in the amount of $5,000 to cover the cost for swimmers and coaches to attend the Junior Olympics that will be held in Greensboro this summer. The funding will cover the cost of the team’s registration to AAU to participate in the swim meet as well as a swim cap, hotel, and gas money. According to the grant application, $5,000 would not cover the total financial need, but would provide assistance to allow more swimmers to participate. With additional funds available within the Community Funding Pool, the task force voted to increase the swim team’s grant amount to $6,905.
– The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust requested $3,500 to support the “Kids in Nature” environmental education program for children and families. The total program budget is $37,500 and the HCLT has already received $20,750 from other grant sources. The funding will be used to cover operating costs such as the salary of the program’s Education and Outreach Coordinator. With additional funding available, the board voted to increase HCLT’s grant amount to $5,404.
– The International Friendship Center located in Highlands requested $10,000 to be used for the pantry which supports residents in need on the Plateau. The organization’s largest expenses are staff salaries and purchasing food for distribution. While the pantry partners with MANNA FoodBank for many food supplies, the pantry regularly depletes that resource and needs additional supplies to help those in need in the community. The International Friendship Center was granted $6,571.
– Macon County Care Network requested $2,000 to help support food costs associated with the organization’s hunger relief facility. The organization’s food costs are expected to exceed $70,000 for 2022, as the need for food distribution increased during COVID19. The task force increased CareNet’s grant allocation to $3,905.
– Appalachian Animal Rescue requested grant funding to complete the renovation of the old shelter in order to expand the facility’s capacity by including an intake facility The overall cost of the renovation is projected to be $100,000 which included a new roof, new flooring, refurbished kernels and additional new kennels. The task force provided AARC with a grant for $5,238.
– The Macon Medication Assistance Program requested $10,000 to cover costs of medication for residents as prices continue to rise. MMAP is anticipating a $22,849 increase in expenses in the coming year, largely attributed to the increase in medicines as well as nearly doubling the number of people the program is anticipated to serve. MMAP serves residents in Macon County who meet income guidelines to provide life saving medications that might otherwise be out of reach. The MMAP was provided $5,095 in grant funding.
– The Macon Program for Progress Parents as Teachers Program was approved for a $10,000 grant to assist in operational costs to carry out the program. The majority of the funds will be utilized for direct client services through group connections and home visitations.
– REACH of Macon County was approved for a grant in the amount of $10,000 to support direct client services. The funds will not only be used as a vital matching tool, but used to ensure that REACH is able to provide direct client services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
– Read2Me of Macon County requested $5,000 to continue providing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for children from birth to age 5 in Macon County. The program sends one book each month to all enrolled children in Macon County. The average cost to provide the program is $30 per child. Currently around 1,000 children in Macon County are enrolled in the program and the funding from the Community Funding Pool will cover the cost of 166 children in the program. The board increased Read2Me’s grant $6,905 to expand the program.
– The Special Liberty Project requested $10,000 from the community funding pool for veteran spouse support equine retreat services. The funding would be used to cover the cost for special trained staff and equine care and training for an entire year. The program is offered to veteran spouses in Macon County to address needs of underserved areas of mental health and focused care. The board approved $5,333 in grant funding for the program.
– Teen Challenge of the Smokies, a 12-month addiction recovery program, was awarded $9,333, just shy of its $10,000 grant request. The funding will support automotive vocational training, which provides training to students in the recovery program. The funding will cover the cost of a mechanic to supervise the program, which serves an an integral part of the students’ recovery journey.