Dear Friends,

With Fall upon us and the first cool breeze of the season in the air, we welcome the opportunity to gather together with our loved ones. The autumn harvest has always been a time of plenty; where we celebrate the hard work of summer and prepare to settle into a period of rest and replenishment. As we move into this period of celebration, our foundation looks forward to continuing the fall tradition of plenty with a concentrated focus on food security, housing, and mental health ensuring all members of our community have the means necessary to cultivate wellness. We are honored to be a part of this growth and opportunity to support health and wellness.

Please enjoy updates from our Foundation, new grant partners, and philanthropy at work. We hope you enjoy and connect with us at our second Regional Convening Meeting on November 3, 2022 - more information is below!

Gratefully Yours,

Luke Howe

Executive Director


Family Resilience

Mental Health - IPV - Education - Child Poverty

Avery County Schools


With help from a grant awarded by AMYWF, Avery County Schools will hire a mental health counselor to help improve children’s mental well-being in the local area. This mental health professional will address the needs of individual students, and all aspects of mental health needs including social skills to improve self-esteem and better interpersonal relationships. They will also be providing effective treatment and monitoring of suicidal and depressive symptoms, decreasing aggressive/anger-based incidents, treating anxiety-based behaviors, and treating para-suicidal and self-harming behaviors.

Yancey County Schools

The mental well-being of the youth in our district is of the utmost importance to everyone at the AMY Wellness Foundation. Our board members and staff recognize this dire need for a mental health professional in schools across the tri-county area. For the second year in a row, the AMYWF board members approved a family resilience grant for Yancey County Schools to hire a mental health counselor. This grant is for the 2022-2023 academic school year. We are excited to see this project implemented again, as the results for last year showed the project to be a huge help to the youth of our community. “This project will address needs of individual students, addressing all aspects of mental health needs including increasing social skills to improve self-esteem and better interpersonal relationships, effective treatment and monitoring of suicidal/depressive symptoms, decreasing aggressive/anger-based incidents, treating anxiety-based behaviors, treating para-suicidal/self-harming behaviors, and supporting students in making the best possible life choices for their circumstances.” Said Kristin Buchanan, the representative for Yancey County Schools. AMYWF is excited to see this project implemented again, as the results for last year displayed the project to be a huge help to the youth of our community.

Collaboration and Planning

Coalitions- Regional Programs - Cross-Agency Programs

Reconciliation House


  The Reconciliation House was awarded a Collaboration and Planning grant to partner with local organizations in order to help serve the citizens of Yancey County. With this grant awarded by AMYWF, they will partner with TRACTOR Food and Farms, and Dig In! Yancey Community Gardens. Together, these three organizations will embrace the Harvest Share Program, Garden Share Program, and MCHP Diabetic/Latinx boxes. All three programs will bring food security to the Yancey County community and those that have special dietary restrictions and needs. 

Capacity Building

Operational Funds - Community Trainings

Dig In! Yancey Community Garden was awarded a capacity building grant this past quarter. With this newly awarded grant, the Dig In! Yancey Community Gardens will be employing the Food for All Coordinator, Food for All Program Specialist, and the Farm Manager. Each of these employees will be directly addressing food insecurity in our region. They have already done some great work in our local area, and with this grant, they will continue their work to address the local food distribution needs.

YMCA of Avery County

The board approved a capacity building grant on behalf of the Williams YMCA of Avery County this past May. This capacity grant will be used to employ the new YMCA Executive Associate Director of Mitchell County and Healthy Living Director. This new addition to the YMCA team will play a vital role in ensuring the success of the aspiring Williams YMCA of Mitchell County. 

Camp Spring Creek

At the September board meeting, Camp Spring Creek was awarded a grant to help fund their next training event. Camp Spring Creek offers training to teachers in Mitchell and Yancey County. This training teaches strategies to increase all students' skills in reading, writing, and spelling, allowing students to become more proficient with their reading comprehension and written expression. “The ultimate goal is that no child is reading and writing below grade level. That may be a hefty goal, yet we need to do better for our youth as a nation, yet, we can start right here in our communities,” said Susie van der Vorst, Executive Director of Camp Spring Creek.

Philanthropy at Work

Partners Aligned Toward Health

Through a partnership with AMYWF, PATH has maintained engagement with eight bilingual, bicultural residents serving as Community Ambassador Real Equality (CARE) ambassadors to support the Hispanic/Latino community through information dissemination, resource sharing, and trusting-building. This process seeks to provide Spanish-speaking residents with equal opportunities to receive information and build capacity for leadership within the local Hispanic/Latino community. The CARE Team meets biweekly to discuss community challenges and discuss ways to address them.

CARE Ambassadors continue to share COVID-19 and vaccine information with the community. However, as the crisis of the pandemic has slowed, the group has focused its efforts on other pressing issues identified by the Hispanic/Latino community.

• 78% of CARE Ambassadors strongly agree they have learned new medical information and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19***

• 67% of CARE Ambassadors strongly agree they have learned new legal information about COVID-19 (legal implications of getting tested, quarantining while working, information privacy, etc.)

• 67% of CARE Ambassadors strongly agree they have had the most current information on COVID-19 to share with the community

• 56% of CARE Ambassadors strongly agree that CARE has helped them to feel more confident in sharing health information about COVID-19

• 45% of CARE Ambassadors strongly agree that CARE has helped them to feel more confident talking with people in the community about COVID-19

After a presentation on college access, the CARE Team was eager to get information on going to college (community colleges, trade schools, and universities) out into the wider community. Many CARE Ambassadors reflected on their own experiences getting to college and do not want other Hispanic/Latino families in our area to feel as lost as they did in the process. To address this, the CARE Team organized and hosted a family information night in Spanish for families in the community to learn more about getting their students to college. The meeting was hosted in partnership with Dr. Eric Klein, Associate Director for Pre-College Outreach and Success at UNC Asheville, and Dr. Christina Viera, native Spanish speaker and Director of Diversity Education at UNC Asheville. Over 30 Spanish-speaking community members attended the information session and several people commented on how useful this information was to give them a voice in helping their children. The CARE Team plans to host more College Access nights in the Fall in partnership with the school systems. Additionally, they have helped families stay updated on the college process through the CARE Team Facebook group. After the college access presentations, Ambassadors received feedback about community members' desire to learn more about educational opportunities for adults, including steps to start a small business. In August, CARE Ambassadors met with Mountain BizWorks and Mayland Small Business Center to discuss offerings and ways to expand services to Spanish-speaking residents. This will remain a focus of the group in the coming months.

Additionally, throughout the past two years, CARE Team has noted the importance of building relationships within the Hispanic/Latino community, between the Hispanic/Latino community and the greater community, and demonstrated that the group is a trusted information source. As COVID-19 guidelines have lessened and in-person events have become safer, the group has begun showing up in spaces to demonstrate their presence in the community. For example, CARE hosted a Sizzlin’ Summer Series event on the Burnsville Town Square in June where over 170 people attended. They taught community members a Latin-American playground game called Resorté and shared painting supplies to create a community mural.

As the CARE Ambassadors have elevated community needs and concerns, organizations and community partners have become better equipped to serve the Hispanic/Latino community. Interpretation and translation have been more heavily prioritized by some local agencies, and agency professionals have a new awareness of intersecting concerns—language and cultural barriers, immigration status, and mistrust of systems—that influence Hispanic/Latino community members’ utilization of resources. Together, CARE Ambassadors and agency representatives are cultivating a network of advocates that will enhance the services available to Hispanic/Latino residents for years to come.

“Nothing like this has ever existed here before and it’s wonderful for the community.”

– Elvira Sanchez, Community Ambassador

Mitchell Giving Gardens

(Article from Mitchell News-Journal)

Mitchell Giving Gardens, the organization that maintains the community garden in Spruce Pine’s Riverside Park, recently hired Western North Carolina native Jess Lanning its first garden

coordinator. The hire was made possible through a capacity building grant from AMY Wellness Foundation and represents a step forward for the formerly all-volunteer team. Jess Lanning lives in Spruce Pine with her husband Kyle, their two daughters Hollis and Josey and an ever-growing herd of animals. She also works in marketing for an education technology company and said she is looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time serving local people through growing food and cultivating community relationships on behalf of MGG. MGG grows food to distribute free in Mitchell County and the grant award will help improve access to fresh, healthy and tasty vegetables essential for the well-being and resilience of the community. The grant will fund the position in 2022–23, boosting MGG’s efforts to increase production, build connections and help strengthen the local food system. The inaugural garden coordinator, Jess Lanning, was a volunteer with MGG throughout the previous growing season and is actively involved in other community organizations. 

You're Invited!


AMY Wellness Foundation (AMYWF) is seeking input from health advocates, nonprofit leaders, and those with lived experience to attend a strategic Regional Convening Meeting to help prioritize AMYWF’s funding priorities for 2023.

“AMYWF prides itself on being a community lead Foundation. With everything we do, we aim to create change with action through community input,” said Caitlin Johnson, Associate Director, AMY Wellness Foundation. “Our first Regional Convening Meeting was held in early 2020 and helped shape the Foundation’s funding areas for our grant partners. Now, two years later, as we know, so much has changed and the Foundation wants to make sure we remain connected to the community,” said Johnson. “We want to hear from the community on our current funding priorities to ensure our funding efforts are still in line with community needs. This meeting will also help the Foundation understand where the gaps are and what we can change to collectively make the most impact to help shape future funding areas for the Foundation,” she concluded

AMYWF’s current funding areas are Capacity Building, COVID-19 Rapid Response, Family Resilience, and Collaboration and Planning with an emphasis on Housing, Mental Health, and Food Security. The Foundation is looking to have community input on those areas and to better understand the current health landscape and how it has changed since the pandemic. “It is of utmost importance we listen to the people who live, work, and love our community. Without our partners AMYWF would not be able to strategically serve our neighbors, it is important we make sure our funds are meeting their needs,” said Luke Howe, Executive Director, AMY Wellness Foundation.

AMY Wellness Foundation Regional Convening Meeting will take place for all community members in Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey counties on November 3, 2022 from 3-5pm location 31 Cross Street, Banquet Hall, Spruce Pine, NC 28777

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Caitlin Johnson at or by using the link below by 10/21/2022.

AMY Wellness Foundation Regional Convening Meeting


Banquet Hall 31 Cross Street, Spruce Pine, NC 28777


11/03/22 3:00pm - 11/03/22 5:00pm US/Eastern
Help us ensure AMYWF is meeting the needs of our community!
I'll Be There!
I Can't Make It

Looking for Support? Learn How to Apply for a Grant with AMY.

AMY Wellness Foundation grant opportunities are open year-round. Details on the funding opportunities and how to apply can be found on our