HCHF disperses over $800K to enhance education on the Plateau and surrounding communities

Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation (HCHF) has approved nearly $2.5 million dollars to area charities since its founding Feb. 1, 2019. The Foundation was reconstituted from the assets of the Highlands Cashiers Hospital Foundation when Mission Hospital, a nonprofit organization was sold to Hospital Corporation of America, a for profit organization last year.

“When Mission sold the hospital to HCA last year, we had no alternative but to reorganize our Foundation since we could no longer use our funds to support a for-profit hospital,” said Dr. Walter Clark, chairman of the Foundation Board.

He continued that the Board decided, however, to continue long legacy of donor support of investment in health and vibrant communities.

Investments have been made in 53 organizations over the last year including programs and projects that focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Highlands, Cashiers and the surrounding communities in three areas: Health and Access to Healthcare, Youth and Education Initiatives, Economic Stability and Community Vitality.

HCHF committed $847,022 to 17 area organizations to support and enrich the lives of children and to enhance educational opportunities across the six-county region. The Foundation awarded grants spanning from placing nurses and social workers in K-12 and Early College Schools to technological improvements and upgrades in both the K-12 and University settings.

To meet the need for increased technology at Highlands School, HCHF funded a technology grant to Advance Highlands Education Committee (AHEC). Pictured at the top of the article is a Highlands School teacher instructing students on an ActivBoard purchased with funds from HCHF.

“After polling our teachers at Highlands School, we realized that technology was a top need,” said Hilary Wilkes, President, Advance Highlands Education Committee. “Technology is an integral part of our children’s lives every day, and we also know that by using technology in our schools our students benefit by having increased engagement, improved knowledge retention, and can learn at their own pace.  We are grateful to Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation for funding the purchase of ActivBoards and recognizing our efforts to improve technology and education for the students at Highlands School for years to come.”

While enhancing technology and similar educational improvements was a focus, the Foundation also supported several youth development organizations and programs. HCHF funded youth development programs that not only prevent children and teens from participating in unhealthy behaviors but build their self-esteem and life competency skills.

One supported organization that is building our youth’s self-worth and life skills is HIGHTS (Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust, and Service).

Teen participant’s in the Inside Out Program with HIGHTS, helping to build a home in Jackson County.

“HIGHTS is grateful to partner with the Foundation to provide therapeutic crisis stabilization services for the most vulnerable youth in our community through our Inside Out Program, as they gain the life skills necessary to flourish and become contributing members in our society,” said HIGHTS Executive Director Marcus Metcalf. “HIGHTS understands that if we do not provide critical services to these youth now, then our community is going to pay for them exponentially throughout their lives through incarceration and addiction.”

Youth development programs are vital to the wellbeing of children; as is ensuring they have healthy home environments. HCHF provided grants to organizations in the region that support youth welfare such as Eliada’s Foster to Adoption Program.

“Eliada’s mission is helping children succeed,” said Eliada President/CEO Cindy Davis-Bryant. “With the support from the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, Eliada Home will grow their capacity to recruit, train, and license foster parents in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. With an increase in foster parents in these counties, when a child enters care, Eliada will be able to match them with a family near their home community, maintaining the child’s natural support system. Proximity to biological family also increases the likelihood of reunification with family when possible. Overall, keeping children close to their home community reduces trauma and increases the potential for permanency.”

With the support of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, Eliada Home will grow their capacity to recruit, train, and license foster parents in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.

HCHF Chair Walter Clark said through the journey of conducting listening sessions, community outreach meetings, and committing over 2,000 hours toward grant review, the Programs and Grants Committee and the HCHF Board of Directors has learned much about our community and the incredible strengths it possesses through existing nonprofits as well as the road blocks to health that are prevalent in our community.

“This year has been a landmark year for the Foundation; an outstanding year for progress and positive growth for our community,” said HCHF Chair Walter Clark. “I am honored to serve alongside fellow Board Members and dedicated Community Advisors. We all look forward to continuing this momentum and building upon it to create lasting impact for generations to come.”

HCHF Executive Director and CEO Robin Tindall said she’s excited for 2020.

“The Foundation looks forward to another impactful year in 2020, as it will be unveiling strategic priorities that will truly move the needle forward for Highlands, Cashiers, and the surrounding communities,” said Tindall.

For more information about HCHF click HERE or call 828.482.6510.

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