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A Catalyst for Collaboration and Innovation




August 2023

Hello and Welcome to Nantahala Health Foundation's monthly newsletter. There's no shortage of newsletters you can subscribe to, so THANK YOU for reading ours today. If you find value in the content below, please share this information with your friends and colleagues.

In this Edition

  • The Butterfly Effect: Helping One Actually Helps Many

-- Learn Why We Paused Our Grantmaking

  • Partner Spotlight: Four Square Community Action
  • SDOH's Impact on Children and Seniors
  • Our Poverty Myth-Busting Series Continues

The Butterfly Effect:

Helping One Actually Helps Many


Podcasts are one of the most effective learning tools available to me these days. Whether driving, folding laundry, or tending my container garden – these become multi-tasking activities when the latest episode of my favorite podcast is simultaneously streaming in my earbuds. Imagine my surprise when I learned People I (Mostly) Admire would be discussing the subject of quantifying nonprofit impact metrics. With the podcast queued up and ready to play, I leashed up my dogs and headed out the door for a long walk.

Every nonprofit leader, staffer, and volunteer should listen to the heartbreak, resiliency, and brilliance of Reginald Dwayne Betts’ story. Not to give away too many details, I wanted to take a minute (or two) here to share my thoughts about what Mr. Betts said when asked about how he convinces philanthropists to fund his cause, Freedom Reads, which so far has put 172 libraries in 34 prisons across the country.

“It’s often hard to accurately measure a nonprofit’s impact… It’s hard to know how many lives you’ve changed with books…" the interviewer said. "You’re a small organization, plus you’d want to wait five or 10 years to see what kind of impact (Freedom Reads) was having on people’s lives down the road.”

That statement alone stopped me in my tracks because it's a conversation we often have here at Nantahala Health Foundation. Even without Mr. Betts' response to chew on, the similarity between Freedom Reads and NHF was already striking. Both of us, like many nonprofits, struggle to quantify our impact. Like Freedom Reads, NHF has existed as a public nonprofit for only a short time. I was curious to learn more about Mr. Betts' approach to the impact question...


NOTE: If you are interested in learning more about why Nantahala Health Foundation has temporarily paused our grantmaking program, use the link above.

Partner Spotlight: Four Square Community Action

Thanks to home repair grant opportunities made available by Dogwood Health Trust, Nantahala Health Foundation has partnered with Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation to administer $400,000 in Healthy Homes funding over the last two years.

Four Square Community Action is one of several agencies awarded funds from this program. Their awards are being used to repair and/or modify owner-occupied homes for program-eligible clients. The goals of the program are to maintain the existing stock of homes available locally and to restore or maintain safe and healthy living conditions, including those that ensure elderly residents can safely age in their homes or address physical challenges or disabilities.

"When I called a  client to tell her that she would be receiving an electrical upgrade, she and her husband began to cry," Angela Jaco, Four Square's Home Repair director, said. "They had waited and prayed so long for this and were so happy that someone finally was able to put something together to help them so their house would be safe.”


SDOH's Impact on Children and Seniors

National and International Reviews

The 'social determinants of health' is a fancy way of describing a simple idea: that a person’s health is influenced not just by what they eat or do but also by social factors.

The definition above launches readers of The Conversation into its August 20, 2023, article examining how many 'well-being' programs in Australia recommend addressing SDOH as a way of improving health, specifically for children, because it's "...during childhood that these factors start greatly influencing a person's life trajectory."

The news from the other side of the globe is not great, according to the article's author. The study found that of the 26 programs reviewed, only 10% of them recommend addressing SDOH as a remedy for health issues facing children, despite the fact that more and more political leaders and program heads have embraced the research around SDOH.


From children to seniors, there's news from the New Hampshire Bulletin that isolation can be as lethal to a homebound senior's health as smoking and obesity.

In a state that’s expected to see its over-60 population double by 2040, issues related to aging are increasingly described as critical. Social isolation is among them. Studies have linked prolonged isolation to increased risk of serious health conditions, from dementia, depression, and stroke to heart disease and premature death. The U.S. surgeon general released an advisory on the effects of social isolation in May, saying the risks are similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Senior isolation is a problem everywhere, including here in Western North Carolina, where similar senior population rates are being forecasted. The article continues by placing an increasing societal price tag on the cost of senior isolation:

Isolation doesn’t only diminish the quality of life, experts warn, but it can also become a taxpayer expense when treatment, hospitalization, and long-term care are paid for with Medicare or Medicaid. “You can’t really overstate how much health risk people are running by not being connected.”


Our Work to Benefit Youth and Seniors

Our youngest and oldest residents are some of our most vulnerable. At both ends of the aging spectrum, self-determination is often fleeting, meaning extra social support is required for young and old alike to remain healthy. As a regionally focused nonprofit with a health and well-being mission, Nantahala Health Foundation's work to address the social drivers of health impacting these age groups includes investments in county senior services, access to healthcare within education systems, and childcare subsidies for eligible families.

Myth-Busting: Poverty Edition

Our series aimed at debunking the 10 most firmly held and frustrating myths about poverty's impact on individuals and families, specifically here in the Appalachian Region, brought you Myth #6 (above) this week.

Our #TruthTuesday posts on Facebook and Instagram will continue to run for the next several weeks. If you find one in your social feed, be sure to give it a thumbs up, double tap, and share it with your friends. The more we collectively understand and share the truth about this issue, the better our solutions will be.

Understanding poverty's impact on health has led Nantahala Health Foundation to address the issue by partnering with local and regional agencies, including making investments in:

  • Health-related home repairs and modifications for low-income individuals and families
  • Ensuring low-income and under-insured expectant mothers receive medical services
  • Providing dental care to low-income veterans of our country's armed forces
  • Working with local food pantries to address food insecurity by providing nutrient-rich options provided by local farmers
  • Supporting community paramedic programs to reduce emergency room visits for low-income and under-insured community members
  • Enhancing safety measures for area senior centers living on limited monthly incomes
  • Bolstering public transportation options and 170+ more community projects designed to promote health and well-being for all.

Poverty's negative impact on health is undeniable, and its elimination has been sought in our country at the federal, state, and local levels for generations. While strides have been made, too many men, women, and children continue to struggle under poverty's tremendous weight.

Also undeniable is the fact that easing poverty's impact not only improves the health and life expectancy of those currently oppressed, it dramatically improves health outcomes for all, even for those whose financial well-being consistently runs in the black.

Make a donation today to help us improve health and well-being for those living in poverty in Western North Carolina


Our Funding Priorities

Our grant-making priorities are designed to create a strong network of organizations by investing in your strategies to remove barriers to health.

Meet Our Partners

At Nantahala Health Foundation, we build partnerships with forward-thinking organizations focused on improving the overall health of the region. 

Our Values Statement

Our values speak to who we are as an organization and how we intend to achieve our mission. Read our full statement of values and let us know what you think.

Financial information about our organization and a copy of our license are available from the N.C. State Solicitation Licensing Section at (919) 807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State.

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Franklin, NC 28734
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