Board will allocate from community funding pool.
With the weight of the economy just beginning to lighten, nonprofits in Franklin found themselves before the Franklin Board of Aldermen to request crucial funds for community programs.
The board heard requests from non-profits operating in Franklin for grants from the town's funding pool. “Typically the town sets aside funding each fiscal year to be used by the nonprofits in Franklin,” said Mayor Joe Collins during the meeting. “This year we had 10 applicants request funds. The general criteria to be eligible for the funds says that we like for the money to be used for things that are going to keep the money here in Franklin or that comes back to the community.”
Applicants, which included Franklin's Garden Club, the Arts Council, CareNet, the Highlands-Cashiers Hosiptal Franklin Clinic, Angel Medical Center's medication assistance program, REACH, Habitat for Humanity, the Historical Society, and the Fontana Regional Library, were able to pitch to the board why they needed the funding and how it would be spent in Franklin.
According to Franklin Town Manager Sam Greenwood, each year as finances allow, the town allocates funds for the funding pool. This year, the town has $40,000 in the account to be distributed to non-profits that work directly with people within Franklin. Greenwood noted that applicants can request the funds once a year.
Angel Medical Center's Foundation Director, Don Capaforte approached the board to ask for $5,000 to help fund the hospital's medication assistance program. “The medication assistance program is a department in the hospital that has one paid employee,” said Capaforte. “The program is currently funded through a grant and provides medical assistance to underinsured and uninsured people in the community.”
According to AMC's grant application, the program predominantly serves low-income and/or seniors who need help obtaining crucial medications in the Franklin area.
Next, Bobbie Contino with the Arts Council of Macon County requested $3,000 from the town's funding pool to help with art classes that reach children and families in the community. “We are requesting the funds to help cover the cost of artist fees, promotion and production and operating costs to bring the art programs to Franklin,” said Contino. “Our classes often bring people from outside of Franklin, but mainly serve Franklin residents.
The Arts Council generally produces 12 main stage events each year in Franklin, all of which are advertised as free or on a donation basis. The organization also hosts free ARTSaturday workshops for school-aged kids each month.
The Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers asked the board for $5,000 to help fund the recurring general operating costs of the Franklin clinic site. According to Jerry Hermanson with the Community Care Clinic, the Franklin clinic was opened in 2010 and was originally funded with monies from the health department. Those funds are no longer available, but the need for the Franklin clinic is still great.
The Community Care Clinic was founded in 2005 to meet the primary medical needs of the uninsured, low income residents who live or work in Western North Carolina.
“Last year we served 859 people in our Franklin clinic,” said Hermanson.”And 94 percent of those people listed Franklin addresses on their medical records. So funding for the clinic would go to directly help people in this community.”
Franklin's Garden Club Susan Simmons requested $2,500 from the town's funding pool to assist with the plant replacement and redistribution downtown. The club's request also included funding from the $2,500 to be used to purchase a structure in Rankin Square that would house the garden club’s tools that go toward beautifying downtown Franklin.
The Garden Club is comprised of volunteers who work to beautify downtown Franklin and other areas of Macon County throughout the year. The club currently works to maintain the areas by the Clock Tower Square and Rankin Square in the center of the downtown district.
Macon County's Care Network also requested assistance from the Town of Franklin to go toward food and utility assistance for families in need in the community. CareNet's new director, Shaina Adkins, requested $5,000 from the town to be split between food purchases and utility bills. “We are requesting $5,000,” said Adkins. “$4,000 of that money would be used to purchase food for the food pantry and our Soup Cafe which serves Franklin residents on a daily basis, and then $1,000 of the grant would be used to assist clients in paying water bills they can’t afford or that have fallen past due.”
Adkins noted that over the years the need for the services CareNet provides has grown, and with that growth comes the need for more funding. In 2011, CareNet distributed 240,000 pounds of food to 6,720 families in need, according to Adkins. She pointed out the growth in the Soup Cafe by noting that in May 2011, CareNet served 693 meals in the Cafe, and this year, 1,066 have been served.
Macon County's Habitat for Humanity's Executive Director Rick Westerman requested the town allocate $4,000 so the organization can continue to provide much needed housing rehabilitation projects for financially needy citizens within town limits.
“We are a group of volunteers who work day in and day out to help our neighbors in need,” said Westerman. “From building a wheel chair ramp or making repairs on a roof, we do everything we can to help those in our community who need help.”
According to Westerman, Habitat for Humanity has built 11 wheelchair ramps (with the average cost of $2,500 each) and repaired one roof so far this year and currently has 20 clients waiting for help. The $4,000 that was requested would go 100 percent to pay for the construction materials used in the projects, said Westerman.
On behalf of The Macon County Historical Society Museum, Bob Poindexter, President, requested the town provide the society with $5,000 to continue making much needed renovations to the Historical Museum building.
Poindexter notified aldermen that repairs needed to be made to the top floor of the museum and that the funding will be used for renovations and not for operating expenses. The renovations will help the historical building continue operating and bring tourists to the area.
Karen Wallace with Fontana Regional Library requested that the board provide the Macon County Public Library with $5,000 to fund the library's Reading Rover Program.
“The Reading Rover program visits five childcare centers in the county and 250 different classrooms,” said Wallace. “We are requesting funds to help with the music and books that the program uses to read to children in Franklin.”
Wallace cited Franklin's goal of offering educational opportunities for all ages: preschool through retirement and challenging students to excel as being the basis of the Reading Rover Program.
Although unable to attend the meeting to speak to the board, on behalf of REACH of Macon County, Ann Vanharlingen requested $5,000 from the town's funding pool to assist in the costs of the shelter, court advocacy and counseling services for people who reside within the Franklin city limits.
The board voted to continue the September meeting until Sept. 25 to allow the board time to consider each request. During the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., the board will vote on each request and allocate funds accordingly.