BURNSVILLE, N.C. — The members of Mountain Air Country Club are well aware of their own good fortune, enjoying life in a beautiful, gated development that includes a world-class golf course, its own landing airstrip and miles of hiking trails set among the Pisgah National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
And yet, like many who have worked hard and achieved success, Mountain Air's community members are also aware of the needs of others — no more so than in their own surrounding area. Today, unemployment in Yancey County, where Mountain Air is located, is among the highest in North Carolina. The median household income is less than $22,000, and only 71 percent of those over 25 years of age are high school graduates.
Inspired to help, in 2007 Mountain Air's community leaders established the Mountain Air Residents Community Fund (MARCF). Mountain Air disperses funds targeting six categories of needs in Burnsville and Yancey County: Health, education/literacy, family issues, economic development, the arts and the environment.
Grant applications are reviewed twice annually and the number and amount of awards are made dependent on funds available. In addition, a portion of the fund can be set aside for college scholarships for needy Burnsville and Yancey County students with demonstrated academic achievement. In June, the Mountain Air board approved grants totaling $20,000 to five Yancey County Organizations: Caring Caps, Dig In! -Yancey Community Garden, Habitat for Humanity Burnsville, Parkway Playhouse and the Yancey County Sherriff's Office Dare Program.
Operating under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the fund is a 501C3 and as such all contributions are fully tax deductible. Last year, Mountain Air received $49,057 in donations from the community and issued grants totaling $42,084. During its second grant cycle of the year, Mountain Air's board approved grants totaling $33,124 to the following agencies and organizations in Yancey County:
• The Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center (ATRC): $5,000 for general purposes.
• The Children's Advocacy Center of Yancey County: $2,000 for general purposes.
• Family Violence Coalition of Yancey County: $5,624 for a security system, gate, and fence.
• Graham Children's Health Services: $5,000 for general purposes.
• My Meds Medication Assistance Ministry: $2,500 for general purposes.
• Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina: $3,000 for printing of materials.
• Mayland Community College Foundation: $10,000 to establish an endowment for students from Burnsville/Yancey County.
In addition, numerous Mountain Air members who have been anxious to volunteer with local charitable organizations — but because of the seasonal nature of the mountaintop community, had not previously been able to commit to volunteering long-term — have formed a Residents Community Outreach Program (MARCOP), whose goal is to provide short-term volunteer opportunities in their adopted community.
A perfect example of Mountain Air's "pay it forward" mentality comes at nearby Mayland Community College, which was named No. 10 among the "50 Best Community Colleges" in the United States recently by TheBestSchools.org. Mayland — which derives its name from "Mitchell," "Avery" and Yancey" counties from which it draws — was one of only two North Carolina colleges cracking the Top 50, the other checking in at No. 48.
The Mountain Air Scholarship funds at Mayland CC will provide for students in perpetuity who reside in Yancey County, demonstrate academic excellence and financial need and are enrolled full time there. Mountain Air Scholarship funds are used for tuition, books and fees, with preference given to applicants not receiving other financial aid.
"Mayland is pleased and grateful for the opportunity to build this relationship with Mountain Air," said Mayland CC President Dr. John Boyd. "This scholarship represents real support for our students as well as a true interest in the community and Yancey County."
By Fall 2014, Boyd said Mayland would open The Anspach Advanced Manufacturing School, which will offer programs in welding, machining, robotics, mechatronics and blacksmithing. The 12,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will be built on Mayland's Yancey Campus, and will feature the latest in training technology for machining and robotics, creating a combined total income of $1,345,320 each year from the welding program alone.
The School will also prepare students to sit for the American Welding Society's national certification exam, ideally increasing the overall earning capacity for Mayland students and resulting in a significant impact on the economic health of our community.
"The Anspach Advanced Manufacturing School will be a beacon that lets manufacturers know our community is open for business and ready to serve their employment needs," said Dr. Boyd. "It will provide cutting-edge workforce training for our citizens and a highly skilled workforce for our existing employers, while letting prospective companies know that we are ready to work.
"This new facility will offer our people more choices for a career," said Dr. Boyd, "and an education that will lead to a higher quality of life."
All of which perfectly represents the inspiration for the Mountain Air Community Fund. "The people in Yancey County are incredibly talented," said Folcher. "We are simply striving in our own small way to provide them with a leg up."
Learn more at www.MountainAirCountryClub.com.
About Mountain Air
Mountain Air is a mountaintop community and country club located a half-hour northeast of Asheville, N.C. Winner of numerous national and international awards including the prestigious "Gold Award for Best Community in America," this multi-generational community boasts one of the nation's most dramatic golf courses overlooking spectacular scenery in every direction. Members also enjoy a mountaintop airstrip runway, full-service amenities, a family friendly atmosphere and miles of nature trails through its own Old Growth Forest Preserve. www.MountainAirCountryClub.com
Martin Armes, 919-608-7260, email@example.com
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