BANNER ELK — On Monday, Sept. 26, dozens of local organizations gathered at the Party Barn in Banner Elk to receive grants from the High Country Charitable Foundation.

In total, HCCF awarded grants to 34 local nonprofit organizations, totaling more than $580,000 between them. To receive the grant, organizations had to be a nonprofit located in Avery County and operating for a minimum of two years. The funds from the grant are required to go toward projects in Avery County only, and only for the project that was specified in the organization’s grant application.

Yellow Mountain Enterprises was one of the organizations that grant funding. Yellow Mountain Enterprises was established in 1976 and works with clients in Avery County who have an intellectual and developmental disability diagnosis, according to director Dale Trivette.

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The organization’s main program is a day program which provides the clients with vocational training and jobs. Currently, Yellow Mountain has 26 regular clients who work at Yellow Mountain Treasure Box, where they can do a variety of jobs, from sorting clothes to running the register, depending on what they’re able to do and what they’re comfortable with, Trivette said.

The grant Yellow Mountain received from HCCF will benefit various repairs around the day program building, such as installing safety rails and better lights in the client bathrooms and a wheelchair ramp on the back of the building.

“This year, it’ll allow us to do necessary repairs that we need to do without putting a strain on our budget,” Trivette said about the grant.

Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter (OASIS) was another recipient of the grant. Founded in 1978, the organization serves survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in Watauga and Avery counties, said Sara Crouch, director of community programs. OASIS offers free and confidential emergency housing, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing for survivors. Additionally, they provide advocacy services, whether that be judicial, medical or otherwise. OASIS advocates can attend court hearings with clients or meet them at the hospital at any hour to provide support.

Last fiscal year, the organization went to court with approximately 125 people and actually attended court more than 400 times, Crouch said. In terms of medical advocacy, OASIS can ensure that clients get whatever services they need, whether it be a prescription, a physical or referral to counseling services, she said. They also provide hygiene products and information about their rights.

Another aspect of OASIS is outreach and education, in which the organization educates youth and adults alike on what intimate partner violence and sexual assault are, as well as what the program does and how people can reach them if they need their services.

“A big part of our job is to reduce the stigma, reduce the shame and educate our community about these things so that the survivors can get the resources that they deserve,” Crouch said.

The grant from HCCF that OASIS received will be applied toward helping clients financially, whatever that may look like. Each survivor’s situation is different, as some may need security equipment for their home, while others may need help paying bills and others may need a temporary hotel stay or money for a security deposit on a new home, Crouch said. HCCF’s “flexible dollars” through that grant provide an important funding stream to OASIS’ services in Avery, she said. The grant allows them to meet the immediate needs of clients.

“We know that intimate partner violence is about power and control, and oftentimes, the way that shows up is abusers economically abusing their victim,” she said. “We are using dollars from the High Country Charitable Foundation to reduce that barrier, to kind of stand in opposition to that economic abuse that they have been facing.”

WAMY Community Action, Inc. received grant funding as well. An acronym for the counties it serves, WAMY is a community action program that aims to either help people out of poverty or prevent them from going into poverty in the first place.

WAMY offers home repairs to low income families to preserve the home and ensure that it stays affordable, said Allison Jennings, director of development. While the organization receives some federal funding, it does not receive enough to address any significant housing repairs. The HCCF grant fills that gap, she said.

“It gives us unrestricted funding to fully take care of that house and preserve it so that it remains affordable for the family,” Jennings said.

Additionally, the organization awarded Banner Elk Volunteer Fire Department with funding for two new self-contained breathing apparatuses and three new digital radios.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the opportunity to outfit our firefighters with these much-needed resources,” Banner Elk Assistant Fire Chief Will Treen said in a press release. “These radios allow for us to communicate, and the SCBAs allow for us to breathe – two items that are certainly required for us to perform our jobs. On behalf of Banner Elk Fire Rescue, I am incredibly grateful for the HCCF’s generous donation. This grant award helps us keep our beautiful town and home safe, and it helps us respond in a quick and professional manner.”

Each organization expressed a great deal of gratitude toward HCCF for the grants.

“We’re very grateful for all the High Country Charitable Foundation does for Avery County. It’s amazing, the impact that they have made in their fundraising efforts,” Jennings said. “It goes right back into the community and it just makes Avery County a better place for everybody to live and grow.”