Nonprofit news in brief: Race raises $6,860 for Riley Howell Foundation Fund

RUN WITH YOUR HEART: Glory Hound Events director Greg Duff presents a check for $6,860 to members of the Howell family. Proceeds from the Mighty Four Miler race went to the Riley Howell Foundation Fund, which supports victims of gun violence. Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

Roughly 240 runners gathered for the inaugural Mighty Four Miler race in Waynesville on April 3, organized by Glory Hound Events to celebrate the life and legacy of Riley Howell. The 21-year-old Waynesville native became nationally recognized in 2019 after he tackled a gunman at UNC Charlotte to protect his classmates and was subsequently killed. 

“When something like the shooting at UNC Charlotte occurs, most of us feel helpless,” said Glory Hound Events director Greg Duff in a press release. “Unlike Sandy Hook, Columbine or the seemingly countless others that have happened, this one hit close to home. I know the Howells and remember seeing Riley as a child. I also know how to put on races, so doing one to honor Riley was an easy decision.”

The event raised $6,860 for the Riley Howell Foundation Fund, which makes grants to organizations that support victims of gun violence. The fund is administered by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. 

A year of free pet food 

GOOD BOY: A dog at a Blue Ridge Humane Society pet food giveaway gets a treat for coming along. The organization has provided free food to 4,885 animals since May 2020. Photo courtesy of BRHS

The Blue Ridge Humane Society is celebrating a year of free pet food giveaways. The initiative, begun in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic downturn, has fed 4,885 pets to date. 

Upcoming pet food giveaways will be held Saturday, May 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County at 304 Ashe St. in Hendersonville; and on Tuesday, May 25, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., at the Interfaith Assistance Ministry at 310 Freeman St. in Hendersonville. 

Hemp for veterans 

Brevard-based Gaia Herbs has partnered with Veterans Healing Farm by donating 2,100 bottles of hemp extract and over 5 kilograms of raw herbs for natural remedies. 

Hemp has been shown to relieve stress, anxiety, aches and pains, said John Mahshie, the co-founder and executive director of Veterans Healing Farm, in a press release. His organization offers herbal counseling from a naturopathic physician at no cost to veterans transitioning back to civilian life; Gaia’s donation of raw ingredients such as turmeric, kava and astragalus roots will be used in herbal tonics made by returning service members. 

Gaia has also donated 1,500 bottles of hemp extract to Veterans to Farmers and Farmers Assisting Returning Military, nonprofits based in Colorado and Texas, respectively. 

NATURE HEALS: Gaia Herbs has donated 2,100 bottles of hemp extract to Veterans Healing Farm in Hendersonville. The nonprofit, which helps veterans transition back to civilian life by offering gardening workshops, also grows and donates produce to veterans. Photo courtesy of Gaia Herbs

New and notable

  • Asheville-based nonprofit investigative newsroom Carolina Public Press is celebrating 10 years in business. The organization first launched as a digital media outlet covering Western North Carolina; CPP expanded its coverage area to the entire state in 2018. 
  • FIND Outdoors welcomed three new employees to its team. Richard Coadwell will serve as retail operations director; Dan Woodall is the new regional facilities and operations director; and Christy Ralston will be the new manager for the Cradle of Forestry site in Pisgah National Forest. 
  • Cindy Smith is the new executive director of the Jewish Family Services of WNC. Smith comes to Asheville from Seal Beach, Calif., where she served in various roles for the Jewish Federation of Orange County. 

Mark your calendar

  • The Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders will hold its fifth annual awareness and fundraising breakfast on Thursday, May 20, at 7:30 a.m. RSVP for the virtual livestreamed event at
  • Thrive Asheville will host an affordable housing panel discussion and networking event on Sunday, May 16, at 6 p.m. The free event is open to all community members; register at
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will headline Pisgah Legal Services’ annual Justice Forum, held this year on Thursday, Oct. 7. Hanna-Attisha is the author of What the Eyes Don’t See, a firsthand account of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. 
  • The Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville will hold its inaugural Sneaky Scavenger Race on Saturday, May 22 (which is, not so coincidentally, National Scavenger Hunt Day). Participants will complete eight interactive outdoor activities designed to challenge the body and mind. Register at

Take it for granted

  • The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina awarded $541,300 to support Latino communities and youth mental health services across the region. Both were identified as areas of particular need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Junior League of Asheville awarded $1,000 each to Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, Project Dignity, Helpmate, Babies Need Bottoms and Homeward Bound. The grants were supported by the JLA’s Be the Change Challenge 5K/10K fundraiser held in April. 
  • The Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund awarded grants totaling $48,800 to 13 area nonprofits, including Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, Black Mountain Counseling Center, Bounty & Soul, Food Connection and Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry. The full list of awardees can be found at
  • Henderson County-based Western Carolina Community Action was awarded a five-year, $14 million federal grant to expand Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties. The funds are expected to serve an additional 99 infants, toddlers and pregnant women; up to 50 early childhood educators will also be hired. 
  • The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership awarded $185,000 to fund 15 projects supporting “craft, music, natural heritage, Cherokee culture and agricultural traditions.” View the full list of recipients at
  • The Dogwood Health Trust has given $100,000 to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Janirve Sudden and Urgent Needs fund to support nonprofits delivering COVID-19 vaccines across the region. Nonprofits can apply for the funding at

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About Molly Horak
Molly Horak served as a reporter at Mountain Xpress. Follow me @molly_horak

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