News briefs: Build a playground, equal representation urged for Mission successor foundation

RAISING THEM RIGHT: Over three days Thursday, Oct. 3-Saturday, Oct. 5, local volunteers will build a new playground at Black Mountain Primary School. Supported by Foresters Financial and KaBOOM!, the new play space will reflect local children's design ideas. Photo courtesy of the YMCA of Western North Carolina

Come and build it

On Saturday, Oct. 6, volunteers will transform an empty site at Black Mountain Primary School into a kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground. The day will begin with a kickoff ceremony at 8:30 a.m. at 301 E. State St. in Black Mountain. Event organizers anticipate cutting the ribbon on the new play space around 2:30 p.m.

The YMCA of Western North Carolina, which operates an after-school program at Black Mountain Primary, received a KaBOOM! grant to transform the space. In August, local kids came together to design their dream playground. The finished product, which is based on their concepts, will serve more than 1,800 kids in Black Mountain.

Foresters Financial and the nonprofit KaBOOM! have built 150 play spaces across 86 cities in 31 states and provinces throughout North America. The Black Mountain project will be the 151st build by the partnership. For more information and to register to volunteer on the build day or on the two prep days, Thursday, Oct. 4, and Friday, Oct. 5, see avl.mx/5c5.

Orgs call for Dogwood Health board to include women, nonwhites

In an open letter dated Sept. 25, Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, president of the Asheville Buncombe County NAACP, along with nine other local organizations, called for Dogwood Health Trust to create a board of directors that “authentically embodies WNC.”

The letter posits that the board’s evolving composition currently includes 22 percent female members, compared to the prospective nonprofit’s service area’s population, which is over 50 percent women. “While Buncombe County has a 10 percent nonwhite population, none of the named Buncombe County Trustees are nonwhite,” the letter argues, and it also calls for representation in the eastern and western portions of the 18-county region to be served by the trust.

The Dogwood Health Trust would come into existence to receive the proceeds of the sale of nonprofit Mission Health to for-profit Healthcare Corporation of America if that transaction is approved by government regulators and is completed by the two parties. According to the trust’s website (avl.mx/5c6), the new foundation would serve the “sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities across Western North Carolina.”

“It takes many perspectives to find the solutions to imbedded societal challenges,” the letter states. “While many may see points of division in the region, we believe that DHT has a unique opportunity to transcend separations of geography, population density, race, ethnicity and gender. As one of the largest per-capita foundations in the country, DHT can set the stage for truly transformative work by creating a diverse board that brings together — and shares decision-making power among — representation from all of the voices of our region.”

Janice Brumit, chair of the trust, shared a statement by email in response to the letter and Xpress‘ request for comment on it: “We share the insights and ideals in Ms. Ramos-Kennedy’s thoughtful letter. We have invited Ms. Ramos-Kennedy to meet and are very much looking forward to that meeting to share our approach and have a deeper discussion on this important topic. Most of all, Dogwood Health Trust looks forward to working with the outstanding organizations that serve our community so well. We are excited about what we can all do together.”

In addition to Ramos-Kennedy’s organization, other signatories include the American Association of University Women-Asheville Branch, ACLU Western North Carolina Chapter, Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement, Children First/Communities in Schools, Carolina Jews for Justice/West, Christians for a United Community, Coming to the Table, Elders Fierce for Justice and the YWCA of Asheville and WNC.

Vote AVL

Jenna Wilson, owner of the Patton Avenue Pet Co., has launched a nonpartisan initiative to help local independent businesses support their employees in exercising their right to vote.

In a press release, Wilson writes, “We will provide participating businesses with voter registration forms, voter guides and other materials, which they will in turn provide to their staff. Vote AVL will be responsible for collecting completed voter registration [forms] from their business and ensure they will be delivered to the Board of Elections before the Oct. 12 [registration] deadline.”

More information and registration for the program are at voteavl.org.

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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