Wellness roundup: Local domestic, sexual violence nonprofits lose funding; Dogwood invests $25M into Pisgah Fund

Lauren Pierce Flickinger
MONEY MANAGER: Lauren Pierce Flickinger will manage the Pisgah Fund, a $50 million investment fund that will initially focus on Western North Carolina health care businesses. Image via Hatteras Venture Partners

State funding for local domestic, sexual violence nonprofits to end Sept. 30

The N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission informed four WNC nonprofits on June 16 of the discontinuance of nearly $2.3 million in grant funding previously available through the Victims of Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Existing VOCA and VAWA grants are scheduled to run out on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Helpmate, a nonprofit that serves survivors of intimate partner violence, will lose $566,000 in expected funding over two years. That money had been slated to support client shelter, case management, court advocacy and the employment of five full-time advocates. Our VOICE, a nonprofit that provides services for survivors of sexual violence, anticipates $298,000 less in funding over two years, which would have provided for three full-time positions and counseling services. Pisgah Legal Services and The Mediation Center were also affected.

These nonprofits have urged local governments to request funding through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to fill the financial gaps created by the discontinued grants. More information about donation opportunities for individuals, corporations, foundations, faith communities and others can be found at HelpmateOnline.org and OurVOICENC.org.

Dogwood Health Trust invests $25 million into Pisgah Fund 

Dogwood Health Trust announced an investment of $25 million into the Pisgah Fund, a $50 million investment fund that will initially focus on Western North Carolina health care businesses. Run by Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Durham, the fund will invest in companies based in the 18 counties served by the DHT.

DHT’s role in the fund represents an investment allocation of its core assets, which derive from the roughly $1.5 billion sale of the nonprofit Mission Health System to HCA Healthcare in 2019. The money is not part of the approximately $50 million in grants the trust plans to make annually.

Lauren Pierce Flickinger, who is based in Asheville, will serve as the manager of the Pisgah Fund. According to Hatteras Venture Partners, potential fund investments could include pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, medical devices, digital and telehealth and contract research and manufacturing.

“We are eager to see this fund at work in Western North Carolina,” says John Crumpler, general partner and co-founder of Hatteras Venture Partners, in a press release from the firm. “Our research indicates that this region is poised for post-COVID growth, particularly as individuals and companies move away from high-density regions.”

Edwards earmarks $1.5 million grant for Hendersonville rehab 

First Contact Ministries of Hendersonville is slated for a $1.5 million grant in the 2021-22 state budget thanks to Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Republican who represents Henderson County and the eastern third of Buncombe County. The grant would be used for a substance abuse rehabilitation center to be operated by the faith-based nonprofit in Henderson County.

The nonprofit began as a weekly support group for people in recovery at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville. It provides free services for addiction and recovery in the form of education, ongoing support and placement in rehab centers throughout the country. “We’re navigators — we assist people in finding whatever treatment they need,” says Craig Halford, president of First Contact Ministries.

If the grant is approved in the final budget, the money would enable the ministry to open the rehab center, which Halford said the nonprofit has attempted to do three times prior. The ministry is seeking an existing facility that it could purchase and renovate into an in-house treatment center. Currently, First Contact Ministries holds recovery meetings at three different churches and their administrative offices.

“The opioid epidemic is clearly a crisis that has destroyed so many lives directly and indirectly, and we need to be looking for solutions to help cure people that have been affected,” says Edwards. “We have the good people with First Contact already in the community striving to make a difference, and I believe this grant will be a significant part of helping them do the work that they’re already so compelled to take on.”

News notes:

  • Pardee Family Medical Associates Asheville, an outgrowth of nonprofit Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville, opened at 805 Fairview Road on June 29. The practice, adjacent to Sona Pharmacy, uses a physician-pharmacist co-visit model in which a physician and a clinical pharmacist practitioner see patients during the same visit. The primary care practice will provide child and infant health care for patients ages 6 months and older, physical exams, blood tests, hormone replacement therapy and other services.
  • Nantahala Health Foundation announced over $204,000 in grants for health and wellness-related nonprofits and public service organizations. Grant recipients include Big Brothers Big Sisters in Asheville, AWAKE Children’s Advocacy Center in Sylva, Blue Ridge Public Health Project in Cashiers and Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee.
  • Two WNC nonprofits, Blue Ridge Public Health, a public health system, and Meridian Behavioral Health Services, a behavioral health care agency, are consolidating services and business operations. Blue Ridge Public Health provides family medicine, pediatric medicine, behavioral health and dentistry, among other services. Meridian Behavioral Health Services provides child medication management, recovery education and medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence, among other services. The consolidation will be completed Friday, Oct. 1.
  • The Buncombe County Schools district has partnered with MATCH Wellness, a Greenville-based company, to educate seventh graders about nutrition and physical activity. Lessons in the Motivating Adolescents to CHOOSE Health program will be incorporated into existing curricula for healthful living, science, math and other subjects, according to a press release from BCS. The MATCH program will begin in August for the 2021-22 school year.

Train up

  • The YMCA of Western North Carolina is offering free exercise classes throughout July. Classes in athletic conditioning, total body training, Zumba, strength fusion and cardio dance will be taught by certified instructors throughout the region. All classes are open to the public. For the class schedule and to enroll, visit YMCAWNC.org.
  • Vaya Health is holding a free online training for suicide prevention on Tuesday, July 13, at 2:30 p.m. “Question, Persuade, Refer” teaches how to recognize the signs of a suicidal crisis. Community members can RSVP for the training at VayaHealth.com or email Renee.Urban@vayahealth.com for more information.

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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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