Omni Grove Park Inn’s Gingerbread House Competition parking fees benefit six local nonprofits

Press release from Children First/Communities in Schools: 

It was four years ago in September when Children First/Communities In Schools (CIS) found out that they had been chosen to be one of The Omni Grove Park Inn’s holiday partners for the Gingerbread House competition.

“When we found out that we had been chosen, we knew it would be a great financial resource for our organization and the children and families we serve,” said Allison Jordan, Children First/CIS Executive Director. “With one in four local children living in families with economic insecurity, the need is great in our community. These funds have been instrumental in helping us continue our mission of providing services to economically vulnerable children in their schools and communities.”

One of the premier events in the region, the Gingerbread competition draws in thousands of visitors to the luxury resort hotel.

This additional traffic into the resort gave The Omni Grove Park Inn the perfect opportunity to give money back to the community by donating the proceeds of the holiday parking charge to six local nonprofits.

“When we started searching for holiday partners, we wanted those direct care organizations that truly made a difference in the lives of people in Buncombe County,” says Tracey Johnston-Crum, Director of Public Relations & Community Outreach for The Omni Grove Park Inn.

A partner for the past 4 years, Children First/CIS has received over $41,000 as a beneficiary of the Holiday Parking Program.

Since 2013, The Omni Grove Park Inn has contributed over $260,000 to local, not-for-profit partners in Western North Carolina through their Holiday Parking Program. Below is the list of not-for-profit partners that benefitted from this year’s donations:

The Asheville City Schools Foundation implements bold strategies, funds big ideas, and engages the community to increase excellence with equity for all children in our schools. ACSF applies its community resources to the operational support of after-school programs, teacher professional development, arts integration strategies, racial equity advancement, and ACS student scholarships, among other impactful pursuits.

“The Omni Grove Park Inn’s commitment to philanthropic engagement is critical to our capacity to serve,” says ACSF Development Director, Nick Roberts. “We simply would not exist without generous partners like these. ACSF is focused on nurturing the whole child and building a whole community.  The Omni Grove Park Inn is helping embolden this important goal.”

The American Legion is the largest veteran’s organization in the world with nearly 2.5 million members. Founded in 1919, its main objective is service to the community, state and nation. For many years the Asheville Legion Post 70, with its approximately 195 military veterans, has conducted a program designed to benefit in the development of the youths of the Buncombe County area, namely, the Asheville-Cardinals American Legion-Post # 70 Baseball Team.

The team consists of boys ages 13 thru pre-college recruited from all the Buncombe High Schools and close by areas to compete with Legion Teams from around the state and nation. The Omni Grove Park Inn’s generous donation will be used to help supply a rented baseball field with lights for home games, professional coaches and umpires, quality uniforms and equipment, insurance for the boys, transportation and meals for the away games, and various other expenses.

Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County helps children and families reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services. Students are surrounded with a community of support and are empowered to stay in school and achieve in life. Last school year, 4,413 children in Buncombe County were benefited from academic supports and enrichment programs, and advocacy efforts helped reinstate two important policies in the child care subsidy program that help lower-wage working parents afford quality child care.

“We are so grateful to The Omni Grove Park Inn for extending their hospitality to reach beyond their guests and support the local community,” say Director of Resource Development Kate Frost. This gift will directly impact children and families living in Buncombe County who are economically disadvantaged and rely on Children First/Communities in Schools to bridge the gap.

Homeward Bound WNC works with others in our community to end homelessness in Western North Carolina. Using a model called Housing First, they move homeless individuals and families into permanent housing and provide an appropriate level of support that will enable them to remain in housing.

“The unrestricted contribution from The Omni Grove Park Inn has a significant impact on our work by allowing us to pay for housing costs that are not covered in many cases by our government-funded rental assistance, such as deposits, furniture and basic necessities for apartments, case management support. This past year we moved 406 homeless persons into permanent housing. We could not have accomplished this nor could we plan to repeat this goal in 2017 without the generous support and partnership of The Omni Grove Park Inn,” says Jim Lowder, Director of Advancement.

Meals on Wheels of Asheville and Buncombe County delivers nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to approximately 500 homebound seniors each weekday.  They serve as a safety net focused on reducing food insecurity, improving nutrition, alleviating isolation, and increasing the quality of life for this very vulnerable population.  Research proves that when seniors have the right support, they gain greater quality of life, maintain independence, need fewer hospital stays and live longer.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the leadership and staff at The Omni Grove Park Inn”, said Debbie Sprouse, Director of Development.  “Not only have they been generous with their staff by encouraging them to volunteer as meal delivery drivers but now they are taking it even further and providing financial support.  As you might imagine we have quite a grocery bill each month.  This funding will go directly toward the purchase of food helping to provide approximately 1600 meals to our seniors!”

The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s mission is to Unite People. Improve Lives. Strengthen Community. They are committed to building a strong and caring community where all our neighbors are educated, financially stable and healthy.

“We love partnerships like the one we have with The Omni Grove Park Inn. With the money raised by the Gingerbread House event, we will fuel our efforts to improve the financial stability, health and educations of our neighbors. Another benefit of this event is the exposure that it provides, and we appreciate that opportunity just as much,” says David Bailey, Executive Director of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County

Thank you to The Omni Grove Park Inn for hosting the 2016 National Gingerbread Competition and impacting the overall wellbeing of the local community through this generous donation. For these six local nonprofits and those they serve, The Omni Grove Park Inn has prolonged the magic of the holiday season.

For information about The Omni Grove Park Inn, please contact Tracey Johnston-Crum at

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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