The Omni Grove Park Inn has designated a portion of its parking fees from the 23rd Annual Gingerbread House Competition to six local not-for-profit organizations. This is the third year of this charitable program that has yielded a total of $192,806 in donations back into the local community.
Thousands of visitors flock to The Omni Grove Park Inn each year to feast their eyes on 160 national entries in the annual Gingerbread House Competition. With the influx of visitors, the hotel has been able to collect parking fees for the benefit of the community. The American Legion, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Asheville Humane Society, Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, Homeward Bound and the Buncombe County Special Olympics would like to publicly thank the Omni Grove Park Inn for helping raise almost $67,582 for their collective causes. See where the dollars are being put to work in the greater community.
The Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) received over $11,000 from parking fees that will directly support the IRL (In Real Life) afterschool program. IRL activities provide educational and youth mentoring as a way to address the achievement gap. IRL has an established a record of success serving over 250 unduplicated students annually, 50% of whom are living in poverty. This winter, IRL was able to provide extra tutoring support through a new “J-Term” initiative targeting the most vulnerable students at Asheville Middle School. IRL Campus Director Erin Cotter shared, “The teachers are invested & loving working with the small groups. The students seem to be connecting with the adults and are active participants in their learning!”
At Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, the mission is to empower children and families to reach their full potential through advocacy, education and services. Funding from the Omni Grove Park Inn will be used to strengthen programs that work directly with low-income children helping to create a community where all children can thrive. “We are very grateful for the unrestricted investment the Omni Grove Park Inn makes in our community every year,” says Executive Director, Allison Jordan.
The American Legion, founded in 1919, is the largest veterans’ organization in the world with nearly 2.5 million members. Thanks to parking proceeds, the Asheville-Cardinals American Legion-Post #70 Baseball Team will operate for yet another year. The team consists of boys grades 13 thru pre-college recruited from all the Buncombe High Schools to compete with Legion Teams from around the state, or possibly even the nation. “Last year the team was quite successful but the most rewarding part of our efforts was to see the boys turn into young men. Most all are now attending colleges all across the country and representing Asheville well,” shared Reggie Young, member of the American Legion.
Homeward Bound of WNC works with others to end the cycle of homelessness. This gift will help move Asheville’s homeless neighbors in Western North Carolina from shelters, cars and camps into safe and affordable housing of their own. The proceeds will fund Homeward Bound’s Day Center (AHOPE), the community’s only day center, for 12 days, serving over 200 people per day. AHOPE provides showers, coffee, a safe place to rest, storage, phones and a mailing address. Most importantly it is the place where people who are experiencing homelessness can connect with housing case managers and begin the process of moving into a permanent home. Executive Director, Brian K. Alexander, adds that “their investment will help us help the most vulnerable people in our community find the home that can stabilize their lives.”
The Asheville Humane Society is dedicated to promoting the compassionate treatment of animals in our community through education, sheltering, and adoption. Executive Director Tracy Elliott emphasized, “This significant gift will help us with our new initiative, ‘Thrive! Together, A Thousand Day Journey’ to help people in the community ensure that their pets are safe, healthy, and thriving.” ‘Thrive!’ will help keep animals safe by expanding adoption and relocation programs, healthy by expanding medical, behavioral, and foster support programs, and thriving by expanding the community outreach initiatives.
Buncombe County Special Olympics provides year round sport training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympics-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them the opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community. Proceeds from this gift will help support the Olympics Spring Games which allows approximately 500 athletes an opportunity to compete locally. This event attracts over 1000 volunteers from throughout the community to support the athletes. Buncombe County Special Olympics Coordinator Josh O’Conner pointed out, “We are able to direct our focus toward our athletes and expanding the opportunities we can offer. This gift will improve the lives of the athletes we serve and allow us to create new connection between our athletes and the community at large.”
For information about the donations and Omni Grove Park Inn, contact Tracey Johnston-Crum at Tracey.Johnston-Crum@omnihotels.com.