Asheville Schools Foundation: Grove Park gingerbread fundraiser helps nonprofits


Photo courtesy of Children First Communities in Schools

The following commentary was submitted by the Asheville City Schools Foundation:

Remember when you could get a parking spot anywhere in Asheville in the dead of winter? You never had to pay for parking. Ever. Those days are long gone and paying to park has become commonplace. Most of us shrug, grumble, and pull out our wallets, watching our dollars and cents fly out the window. Now, imagine a parking lot that led you to a land full of gumdrops, candy canes, and lollipops and at the end, smiling children get a big pot of money. This “Candy Land”-like scenario is essentially what happened when the Omni Grove Park Inn designated a portion of its parking fees during the Gingerbread House Competition to local nonprofit organizations.

Thousands of visitors flock to the Omni Grove Park Inn to feast their eyes on national entries in the annual Gingerbread House Competition. With the influx of visitors, parking has long been a challenge at the historic hotel. In celebration of this season of love, the Asheville City Schools Foundation, Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, Make-A-Wish® Central & Western North Carolina, MANNA Food Bank, Mission Children’s Hospital, and the Council on Aging of Buncombe County would like to publicly thank the Omni Grove Park Inn for helping raise $63,930 for their collective causes. Follow the trail of good works, and find out how these dollars are being put to work right now in the greater community.

It is no secret that decisions made in Raleigh are adversely affecting our North Carolina teachers. Slide back a space. Asheville is no exception; however the Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) strives to make teachers a priority. Executive Director Kate Pett is thankful for this unexpected gift and states “One of the main programs of the ACSF is providing grants to teachers. Thanks to the gift, hundreds of children’s lives will be impacted with improved learning because of the five teacher fellowships that will be awarded.” Advance two spaces. One example of a teacher grant being implemented right now is teacher fellow Kimberly Eggett of Claxton Elementary for Enhancing Learning with iPads. This research grant will help her understand how best to use technology to improve higher-level thinking skills and learning across grades and schools. Not only did 13 teachers receive training to use highly-effective iPad applications, but the instructional technology facilitators at three different elementary schools will compare student learning experiences and results to inform technology purchases and deployment going forward in ACS.

At Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County, their mission is to empower children and their families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services. “As Communities In Schools, we surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life” says Executive Director, Allison Jordan. “It really meant a lot to our organization that the Omni Grove Park Inn provided such generous financial support to our community. This year is tight for us financially and this gift will truly make a difference in our strategies to reduce poverty. We are always grateful for undesignated gifts that allow us to be flexible in putting it towards the area of most need within the organization.” Advance three spaces.

The impact of the gift to the Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina will be life-changing for local children. The generous gift will be used to grant 2-3 wishes of local western North Carolina wish-kids. “Each year, our chapter grants around 225 wishes, and we anticipate that 40 of those wishes this year will be from the Asheville/Western NC area” says Kate Berry, Development Manager, “we are so appreciative of Omni Grove Park Inn and their generosity in helping us grant the wishes of our local children facing life-threatening illnesses by providing them with the hope, strength, and joy just when they need it the most.” Advance two spaces.

Slide back five spaces. MANNA’s Executive Director, Cindy Threlkeld shares what the last year has been like for MANNA’s clients, “2013 has been a challenging year for many of the people in Western North Carolina facing hunger. We’ve seen programs go without funding and safety net cuts. For our clients, government shutdowns and political gamesmanship aren’t news stories that they can forget about when they turn off the radio. Our most vulnerable have been on a roller coaster, a roller coaster that mostly seems to continue downhill.” Thanks to the gift from Omni-Grove Park Inn, MANNA will be able to maintain their relentless pace in the fight against hunger in Western North Carolina. Advance four spaces. “At MANNA we provide enough food for 1100 meals every hour of the day, every day of the year, but still 1 in 6 people struggle each day to put food on the table.”

Advance three spaces. The gift to Mission Children’s Hospital, the only Children’s Hospital in Western North Carolina, will allow their team to implement a Child Life Community Liaison Project over the next 6 months. The child life specialists will help to teach medical professionals across Western North Carolina how to appropriately assess a child’s understanding and level of anxiety before a medical procedure, such as an injection. The child life specialist will also teach medical professionals how to help a child cope through a medical experience that may be frightening or uncomfortable. Mission’s pediatric health professionals and physicians are subspecialists in the childhood diseases, disorders and conditions they treat. They are committed to providing clinically excellent, personalized, family-centered care for newborns, infants, children and adolescents, and the families who love them.

It is not just children that have felt the effects during the recent loss of funding and federal sequestration over the past two years, it has also resulted in service reductions to seniors. Slide back two spaces. At the Council on Aging of Buncombe County (COABC) they are dedicated to promoting independence, dignity, and wellness for older adults through education, innovative programs, and coordination of resources. With the gift, the COABC will be able to fill gaps for the 400+ people on a waiting list for in-home aide services, senior dining service days, and have the flexibility to use the funds where they are needed most. Advance three spaces.

Who knew that parking in Asheville could be so sweet? Thank you Omni Grove Park Inn for donating a portion of parking fees so that so that these six nonprofits can advance forward in their respective missions and not backslide in their vital programs to the community. For information about the donations and Omni Grove Park Inn, please contact Tracey Johnston Crum at 828.216.5813 or Tracey.Johnston-Crum@omnihotels.com.

Helpful web links:

Asheville City Schools Foundation: www.acsf.org

Children First/Communities in Schools: www.childrenfirstbc.org

MANNA Food Bank: www.mannafoodbank.org

Mission Children’s Hospital: www.missionchildrens.org

Make-A-Wish® Central & Western North Carolina www.nc.wish.org

Council on Aging of Buncombe County www.coabc.org

About Omni Grove Park Inn: www.groveparkinn.com


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