Mission Health’s Community Investment Program is awarding over $890,000 in funding to a diverse group of 17 western North Carolina agencies, in a joint effort to improve the health of those served by Mission Health across the region.
The 2018 focus areas for the grants are:
· Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse
· Chronic Disease
· Social Determinants of Health (focusing on food security and homelessness)
· Interpersonal Violence
These focus areas are based on the top priority needs identified through the Community Health Assessment process, which takes place locally in each of the 18 counties in Mission Health’s service area of western North Carolina.
“Mission Health’s partnerships with community organizations heighten our ability to meet the diverse needs of our community’s most vulnerable members,” said Sonya Greck, MSN, RN, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health, Safety Net, Community Investment and Facilities. “Improving the health of our region is our mission, and it takes a collaborative effort; we are excited about the partnerships with these organizations and the impact this work will have in improving the quality of life for many in our community.”
The grantee organizations have proven histories of creating effective partnerships with other agencies that are impacting at-risk populations in one or more western North Carolina communities, and successfully tackling community health challenges.
The agencies and programs funded by Community Investment grants are:
· All Souls Counseling Center
· Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA)
· Bountiful Cities
· CARING for Children
· Council on Aging of Buncombe County
· FEAST Asheville
· Haywood Street Congregation
· Homeward Bound of Western North Carolina
· MANNA FoodBank
· Mountain Child Advocacy Center
· PATH (Partners Aligned Toward Health)
· Pisgah Legal Services
· REACH of Macon County
· Southern Reconciliation Ministries
· YWCA of Asheville and Western North Carolina
PATH Executive Director Schell McCall says that this funding will directly support improved community health as it relates to substance abuse prevention. “In 2015, Mission Health supported Partners Aligned Toward Health in the form of in-kind technical assistance relating to data analysis,” McCall said. “The new grant will enable the Mitchell Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force to continue this effort to analyze the impact of our substance abuse prevention initiatives and focus on those that are the most successful. Since 2009, the Mitchell Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force has focused on the goal of creating communities free of substance misuse behaviors in Mitchell and Yancey Counties with a core approach to reducing and eliminating substance abuse that includes awareness, education, advocacy, and prevention. The Task Force involves a broad range of invested local stakeholders, including law enforcement, healthcare providers, schools, local government, faith communities, and more. This recent grant support also enables us to draw down the maximum amount of available funding from our federal Drug Free Communities grant. The opioid crisis is a growing threat to the health of our community. We are very grateful for this support from Mission, and for the partnership and involvement of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in our substance abuse prevention efforts.”
Another grantee, Bountiful Cities, is an urban agricultural nonprofit that works to teach agricultural skills within communities, and advocates for accessible, healthy food systems. The organization also has a history of support from Mission Health, and Program Director C. Nicole Hinebaugh noted that this grant will not only nourish individuals, but communities. “In 2016-2017 the Mission Health Community Investment funds enabled our Community Garden Network to provide infrastructure improvements to 13 different community gardens in Asheville and Buncombe County, as well as countless hours of Grass to Greens edible landscaping support to three school gardens in partnership with FEAST educational programming. These renewed funds in 2017-2018 will allow this exciting work of the Community Garden Network to continue in partnership with FEAST, and help to expand the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program. This expansion will support the continuation of the DUFB program at the French Broad Food Co-op and the West Village Market; the program will also be offered at one to two new store locations in Asheville. We estimate that this program will provide access to free fresh produce to over 400 people in our county,” said Hinebaugh.
Additional funding will be assigned to strengthen the joint efforts of Mission Health and OurVoice to address human trafficking, a pervasive worldwide and local problem with serious emotional and physical repercussions.
“Grant funding through Mission’s Community Investment program is just one of the many ways Mission Health invests in the community” said Ronald A. Paulus, MD, President and CEO of Mission Health. “Last year alone Mission Health invested more than $183 million across western North Carolina by providing charity care to patients, medical education and research, programs and services which impact the health of western North Carolina residents, and in unreimbursed costs of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients.”