Giving back

Western North Carolina is home to a wide range of nonprofit organizations, each seeking to improve residents’ lives in a particular way. The services they offer are as diverse as the needs they’re attempting to address: Whether they’re fighting environmental threats, combating unemployment through workforce development, or enriching the area’s cultural life, nonprofits are a driving force in our region, helping the community adapt to changing times.

To highlight those endeavors, Mountain Xpress asked a random sample of area nonprofits to share their newest initiative, why they’ve chosen to undertake it, and how it will positively impact WNC. You’ll find their answers in the following section. And while their responses are as varied as their respective missions, there are some common threads:

1) Nonprofits are taking the lead in responding to developments in both public policy and technology. For example, the Council on Aging and Pisgah Legal Services have recently launched programs to help people sort out their options under the Affordable Care Act. Our VOICE, the Asheville City Schools Foundation and Arts For Life have created programming specifically related to technology, including digital and social media.

2) Empowerment drives nonprofit programming. Among the respondents, the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, the Asheville Jewish Community Center and the Open Hearts Art Center give participants tools to actualize their personal power. The Eagle Market Streets Development Corp. and the Self-Help Credit Union provide training and small-business loans, respectively. The Mountain Area Child and Family Center is empowering families through its Family Store. The YMI Cultural Center, the oldest of all the nonprofits that responded, helps low-income individuals prepare their tax returns.

3) Finally, the arts and the environment, two key areas driving our region’s economy, are also focal points for local nonprofits. The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is a leader in striving to preserve the region’s cultural legacy, while the Western North Carolina Alliance works to protect our natural legacy.

And though the organizations featured here are only a small fraction of the many valuable nonprofits serving WNC, they nonetheless reflect the dynamic nature of a sector that exists to create positive change.

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