Community Chronicle…A Closer Look at the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation

By Bob Keith

First, let me welcome and congratulate Scott and Meda Baughman for taking over the ownership of “Mountain Breeze”. Their experience and background should guarantee the continued success of the paper. Also, allow me to thank Dave and Cathy Leestma for the quality job they did in managing and producing the ‘Breeze” for the last 16 years. Simply awesome! We will miss them and wish them the best in all they do in the future.
In this article, I’d like to highlight the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation. This organization was established a little over 16 years ago to serve some specific needs of the Gorge. These include but not limited to Arts and Education, Conservation, Health and Wellness, Economic Development and Strengthening Values and Sense of Community. Simply put, the Foundation manages an investment fund (endowment) that is designed to increase the base amount each year and, in addition, produce income that can be invested, or better said, granted back into worthy causes and projects in the community. The fund grows through contributions from people in the community and through market investment gains. There have been over 80 annual contributors to the endowment which remains intact in perpetuity. The fund has grown from the initial $25,000, donated by Jim and Susan Dunn, to currently just shy of $300,000. The Foundation’s bold objective is to exceed a $1million endowment by 2027, the Gorge’s 100th birthday.
Equally important is that the Foundation has granted almost $50,000 to local organizations such as Outreach, LLCA, the Library, Flowering Bridge, and Blue Ridge Medical over the years. In the future, in order to keep the “Breeze” audience informed, members of the Foundation Board will be writing articles for each edition of the “Breeze” about grants made and results achieved. If you have an idea for a grant, you can go to the Foundation website, for a grant application or contact a member of the Board. Current Board members are: Crystal Morrison, Jack Barton, Woody Turner, Ric Thurlby, Ned Kiser, Paul Brock, Julie McKinney, Mattie Decker and yours truly.
Familiarize yourself with the goals and objectives of the Foundation. The organization is a significant community asset open to all with the intent to make the Gorge a better place to live, work and play.

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