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Mountain folk are known to go to extraordinary lengths to help a neighbor, and they often have to because of Western North Carolina’s challenging topography. Waynesville-based Mountain Projects understands this and other regional challenges and is working hard to make life better for everyone who calls these mountains home.
For nearly 60 years, Mountain Projects has assisted Haywood and Jackson County residents by supporting social needs related to health, housing, education, transportation and aging — the same needs being addressed in the state’s Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP). When given a chance to participate in the pilot, Mountain Projects didn’t hesitate.
“It’s the work we’ve been doing for decades,” explains Brooke Smith, Mountain Projects’ assistant director. “HOP allowed us to expand the services we can offer to our clients who have Medicaid Managed Care. We’ve taken that opportunity to heart.”
Take Stephanie, for example, a Medicaid Managed Care member who was living in a home with mold and other issues that were exacerbating her child’s asthma. Through HOP, Mountain Projects was able to help her find a healthier home and move into it with support for her first month’s rent, security deposit, and utilities. HOP even helped Stephanie access HEPA filters, a vacuum cleaner and healthy home supplies. The pilot’s healthy food services ensure her family has what they need to get and stay healthy. Her child hasn’t had an asthma attack since they moved. Stephanie recently shared that HOP has been nothing short of life changing.
“I feel like all of the clients we serve are success stories,” shares Amanda Gentry, Mountain Projects’ HOP program coordinator. “Every family we’re able to provide with a healthy food box or meal is a success.” The thoughtfulness that goes into these services contributes to this success. Each box is brimming with more than 10 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepared meals prioritize client preferences and ease of preparation, making it possible for even sheltered individuals and those with physical limitations to meet their daily nutritional needs.
Food and housing aren’t the only services available to clients through HOP. Mountain Projects can also assist pilot participants with health-related transportation needs, which can make it possible to get an education, attend a support group, or purchase groceries for the week.
“At the end of the day, we want to see happy and healthy families,” explains Amanda. With Mountain Projects’ commitment to their community and the pilot’s support, this goal is within reach.
–Brooke Smith, Assistant Director, Mountain Projects