Putting money in the hands of those who need it most, is the motivation behind the Cullasaja Women’s Outreach annual grant award.
This past summer, the Cullasaja Women’s Outreach raised a record $244,150, which was disbursed to 22 local nonprofit organizations
“We like to think of it this way, ‘when life gives lemons, we provide the lemonade,’” said CWO Executive Director Margaret Eichman by phone. “When you’re dealt lemons, we took away the bitterness and added sweetness, to give lemonade. People were very generous. We were able to give the most to those who needed it.”
The CWO is a grass roots organization comprised of 112 women who call the Cullasaja Club community located on US 64 in Macon County midway between Highlands and Cashiers home.
“We keep it very low key, no big fundraisers, no pressure,” Eichman said. “It’s just a one-time ask – a one-time donation.”
Different nonprofit organizations have different needs and are invited each year to apply for the CWO grant. Nonprofits were awarded grants ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. Nonprofits like the Highlands Emergency Council who received $22,150, The Bascom, who received $10,000, and the Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers who received $25,000 in grant funds.
“We get behind these nonprofits,” Eichman said. “Their asks were much lower than what they received. This was a special year and we were able to give more than they asked.”
“Eighty-two percent of CWO’s 2020 grants will support health and humanitarian services, and educational programs for local children,” said Grant Co-Chair Jo Hill. “As one can imagine, every non-profit organization in the area faced challenges that shook confidences, unsettled resources and required new approaches as they worked to achieve their missions of outreach.” The CWO seek to inspire other plateau communities to take up the torch and do the same, Eichman said.
“We have so much,” she said. “It is our obligation to reach out to those in need. We can’t hide behind our good fortune.”
CWO member Nancy Harrison called the Cullasaja Club community amazing.
“The goal of our women’s outreach is to bring a sense of hope, unity and unfaltering support to the Highlands-Cashiers community.” said Harrison. “We further hope that our efforts will inspire others to work in harmony for the good of all.”
Partnering with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, CWO established a CFWNC-CWO Charities fund, which enables the group to raise funds each summer and award them through a judicious grants process to make a meaningful difference in the local community, To date, Cullasaja Women’s Outreach has assisted over 41 local not-for-profit and charitable organizations in their efforts to enhance the community. Since its founding in 2006, CWO has awarded nearly $1.9 million in grant funding.
“That’s pretty good lemonade,” Eichman said.