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Nonprofits line up for Franklin funding

maconEach year, Macon County organizations stand before the Franklin Board of Aldermen to ask for a piece of the nonprofit grant funding the town sets aside in the budget.

A total of 14 nonprofits asked for assistance this year from the town’s pool of money, but not everyone will get what they’re after. With $66,000 worth of funding requests, the town has only $40,000 allocated for local charities. 

While local nonprofits depend on the additional funding from the town to keep programs running or to use it as matching money to apply for another grant, the board hears opposition every year from resident Angela Moore. Moore, who is also a candidate for alderman this year, said she approaches the board every year to oppose spending taxpayer dollars on charities. 

“I give to charities I want to, but this money is forcibly taken from me and given to someone else. There’s a name for that — socialism,” she told the board at a September meeting. “Would you donate to a gay rights organization or an abortion clinic? I know I wouldn’t.”

But Moore’s suggestion is far-fetched given that the town’s policy states that nonprofits applying for funding must meet the “public purpose doctrine.” Town Attorney John Henning Jr. said nonprofits receiving money had to be providing a service that benefits the community as a whole. 

For example, Appalachian Animal Rescue is requesting funding for its spay and neuter program, which helps control the stray animal population. Henning said animal rescue was a great example of meeting that “public purpose” requirement. 

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“Instead of the town fulfilling that service, you can make a donation to an organization already providing the service,” he said. 

Nonprofits also must fill out an application explaining what they are requesting money for and submit their IRS status, budget and meeting minutes to even be considered. 


Appalachian Animal Rescue

Shelter director Cathy Howman requested $5,000 to assist low-income residents with the cost associated with spaying or neutering animals. As a no-kill shelter, Howman said the shelter has to constantly turn people away when they call about taking in a new animal or when they need help with spay and neuter costs. 

“We get calls from the public for help and when we tell them we don’t have the money, they hang up,” she said. “That represents another litter we don’t have room for because we don’t kill to make space.”


Arts Council

Arts Council director Bobbie Contino said the requested $3,000 would be applied to the costs associated with artists’ fees, event production and marketing and council’s operating expenses. Having the town subsidize those costs allows the council to provide affordable and accessible art programs for all residents. The Arts Council hosts Mainstage music events, Art on Main, Poetry Nights for Adults and the annual Barbershop Sundae. 


Macon County Care Network

Director Shania Adkins requested $4,000 for the Care Network to fund a “Volunteer Care Program.” 

Adkins said the organization wanted to give back to its many volunteers who provided a total of 17,800 hours of service in 2014. If you do the math, she said that time was worth more than $137,000. 

“It’s invaluable what they bring to the table,” she said. 

The $4,000 would go toward creating new volunteer badges and lanyards with the Care Network logo on them that volunteers could use to redeem discounts around town at participating businesses. The cost also includes DiscountID cards from Amazon and CareNet Feed the Need T-shirts. Adkins said Outdoors 76 and Franklin Health and Fitness already committed to offering a special discount for the volunteers. 

“It’s not what we usually propose but our volunteers deserve recognition for what they do,” she said. “It’s investing in location merchants as well.”


Macon County Habitat for Humanity

Rick Westerman asked the town for $5,000 to go toward home repairing and creating handicap accesses at homes for those who can’t afford it. He said making these repairs for residents would reduce the need for emergency services, which reduces the burden on taxpayers. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that builds homes for low-income families and also makes home repairs. 


Macon County Historical Society 

Macon County Historical Society asked for $5,000 to renovate the third floor of the museum. Specifically, the 1904 building has five fireplaces, and heavy rain has caused some of them to deteriorate over the years. Some of the bricks need to be repaired by putting mortar back in them and placing masonry caps on to stabilize existing bricks.


Macon County Public Library

Librarian Karen Wallace requested $5,000 to purchase new equipment for the library, including a new copier and network of printers for the public’s use. She said the current printers are 10 years old and are frequently out of service.

“People use copiers and printers for all kinds of things still — tax forms, legal documents, resumes, job applications, assignments, research for school, health info, boarding passes and tickets and directions,” she said. 

Even though it’s a county library, Wallace said, the residents of Franklin benefit substantially from it because of its convenient location just outside the town limits. 

Wallace and other library supporters asked county commissioners for more library funding — about $40,000 — earlier this year to replace aging computers and to give employees a raise. Commissioners tabled the issue and said they would revisit it in six months when they had a clearer picture of how the state budget would impact the county budget.  

In the meantime, Wallace said the library was awarded a $25,000 grant to upgrade its 50 computers. She said the process of getting them all switched out would take a while because the computers are running on Windows XP, which is no longer supported for upgrades. 


REACH of Macon County

Jennifer Turner, assistant director of REACH, said the organization was requesting $5,000 to provide services to victims within the town of Franklin. The funding would go to assist with the costs of the shelter, court advocacy and counseling services for town residents. 

REACH provides the only specialized services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the community. Last year REACH provided services for 597 clients and provided shelter for 110 women and children. Turner said REACH is close to completing its new shelter to meet the growing needs in the county. 


Read 2 Me

Read 2 Me started in 2011 because of a concern that many kindergartners in Macon County didn’t have the literacy skills expected of them. Read 2 Me partners with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide one book a month to children from the time they are born until the start kindergarten. Diane Cotton said they $4,000 being requested would help the program sign up more children in Franklin to participate. About 167 children in Franklin sign up for the book program each year and the cost is about $30 per child.

“The goal is to encourage a love for reading,” Cotton said. “Literacy rates in Macon County have gone up 20 percent since we started doing this.”


Scottish Tartans Museum

Jim Akins with the Tartans Museum requested $5,000 to complete an expansion on the museum. Funding will also go toward purchasing a garment steamer to help preserve museum artifacts in garment bags, purchase a William Wallace and Robert the Bruce mannequins that will be completely outfitted, install new lighting and construct additional display panels.  

“We have the only Tartan Museum outside of Scotland,” Akins said. “We bring lot of visitors to Franklin — last year we had 8,500 visitors and we’ve had 5,700 so far this year, which is an increase of over 1,000 people over last year.”


The Literacy Council of Highlands

The Literacy Council of Highlands requested $5,000 to help improve the reading test scores of Franklin’s kindergarten through fourth-grade students by sending volunteers into the school system for tutoring. According to information provided by Macon County Schools, 31 percent of kindergartners are well below proficiency. About 21 percent of first- and third-graders are well below proficiency and 15 percent of second-graders are well below proficiency. The funding will help serve about 1,660 students in Franklin elementary schools. 


Community Care Clinic

Community Care Clinic requested $5,000 to assist Franklin residents with managing chronic disease and educating residents about their health conditions. 

Executive Director Kim Losee said the clinic saw 469 patients in 2014, and 80 percent of those patients work but still don’t qualify for health insurance. She said half of the clinic’s patients were diagnosed with high blood pressure and about 22 were diagnosed with diabetes. 

While the clinic helps patients manage their chronic illnesses, Losee said the clinic also wanted to educate its patients on their conditions. 

“To fully treat patients, we need the supplies and we need the capacity to educate patients about their conditions,” she said. 


Hospice House Foundation of WNC

Hospice House is requesting $5,000 to help pay the cost of the fundraising professional the organization hired to lead its capital campaign to build a new house. The $5,000 request would pay only a small portion of the $41,520 administrative fundraising costs. 

The nonprofit has raised $2.2 million of the $4.3 million needed to construct an inpatient facility located in Franklin. The facility will serve Franklin residents as well as the rest of the region to offer terminally ill patients around-the-clock care when their illness can’t be managed at home. 


KIDS place

KIDS Palace requested $5,000 to provide services for abused and neglected children in Franklin. KIDS Place also provides services for children who are victims of violence or who witness traumatic events such as homicide. 

“Officers are not always comfortable talking to little children about the horrible things that happen in their lives, but we have people to do that,” said Alisa Ashe, KIDS Place executive director.  


Macon New Beginnings 

Macon New Beginnings is a new nonprofit formed to alleviate homelessness in Macon County. 

The nonprofit is requesting $5,000 that will be used for an emergency response fund to temporarily house homeless people this winter at participating local motels.

Bob Bourke, president of Macon New Beginnings, said he was already in negotiations with several motels to house people. While there are a couple of shelters in other surrounding counties, Bourke said they wouldn’t house people from Macon County. 

“We estimate 20 people will come to us for shelter,” he said. “We hope it will be less but we’re realists.”


By the numbers

Macon County nonprofits have requested funding from the town of Franklin, and the board of aldermen approved the following funds. 

             Nonprofit                                                                Amount requested    Amount received

  • Appalachian Animal Rescue                                            $5,000                   $3,000
  • Arts Council                                                                     $3,000                   $1,000
  • Community Care Clinic of Franklin                                  $5,000                   $4,000
  • Hospice House Foundation of WNC                               $5,000                   $0
  • KIDS Place                                                                     $5,000                   $5,000
  • Macon New Beginnings                                                  $5,000                   $2,000
  • Macon County Care Network                                         $4,000                   $1,000
  • Macon County Habitat for Humanity                              $5,000                   $5,000
  • Macon County Historical Society Museum                    $5,000                   $3,000
  • Macon County Library                                                    $5,000                   $4,000
  • REACH                                                                          $5,000                   $5,000
  • Read 2 Me                                                                     $4,000                   $2,000
  • Scottish Tartans Museum                                              $5,000                   $3,000
  • Literacy Council of Highlands                                        $5,000                   $2,000

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