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WCMA History
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2007 - Founding member Kevin O’Connor asked some friends and neighbors within Walnut Cove to donate $100 each for local charities.He collected $5,600 from 56 men and donated the proceeds to six local charities. By pooling their funds, they could collectively support the local charities in which their neighbors volunteered. The Walnut Cove Men’s Association was formed and monthly meetings commenced.

2008 - Under the leadership of Janet Whitworth, the Walnut Cove Ladies’ Association began with the dual purpose of introducing members to Asheville and donating to local charities. By combining their dues with those from the Men’s Association, $15,500 was donated to nine local charities. Dues were $200/person and Eblen Charities served as the vehicle for our tax exempt donations. 

2009 - The men’s and women’s groups collaborated on a golf tournament and silent auction raising $79,425, which was donated to 33 charities.Additionally, members attended presentations from speakers representing local community non-profits in an effort to educate and raise awareness of the tremendous need in our region.A special relationship was formed with Avery’s Creek Elementary School just outside the gates.  Members volunteered at the school and made donations to help meet the basic needs of students.

2010 - The Men’s and Ladies’ Associations merged to form the WCMA. The golf tournament and auction raised over $100,000, which was donated to 36 local charities. The first clothing drive was held. All clothing collected was donated to the Western Carolina Ministries, which distributed it to those in need.

2011 - A total of $106,152 was granted to 34 charities. Members attended presentations by Mayor Terry Bellamy, Mission Hospital, Manna Food Bank, AB Tech, the Asheville Symphony and more.  Dues were $200/person or $300/couple.

2012 - Without the assistance of Eblen Charities, the WCMA would not have grown as an organization, however, the board realized that the Eblen connection was not only administratively cumbersome but was also creating confusion among our growing membership. Accordingly, the decision was made to form our own 501(c)(3) organization.  Documents were filed and bylaws adopted. The golf tournament fundraiser, combined with revenue from dues, allowed us to award 25 grants to local charities for $63,885.

2013 - It was the inaugural year for the members-only Black & White dinner (with a touch of red). This provided an opportunity to say “thank you” and to update members on our activities.  In August, the WCMA held its annual golf event along with a “Taste of Giving” fundraising gala. We emphasized 4 charities who shared the proceeds of approximately half of our fundraising dollars for that year: Manna Food Bank, Avery’s Creek Elementary School, Buncombe County Medical Society’s Project Access, and the Asheville Art Museum.  The WCMA board formed a social committee to increase membership and continue our efforts to acquaint neighbors with the community “outside the gates."  A total of ten events were held.  Increased revenue from membership and the proceeds from our annual golf tournament resulted in 17 grants totaling $98,625.  Dues were $300/household for 2014.

2014 - The board adopted Grant Committee Guidelines, which included a decision to focus on four categories of charities:  Human Services, Healthcare, Education, and Natural & Cultural Resources.  The golf event continued to serve as our main fundraiser with the Black and White (with a touch of green) dinner as our big social event.  Several members published a community cookbook with proceeds generously donated to our grant fund.  The board approved 23 grant requests for a total of $87,500 to western NC charities.

2015 - The board established a Communications Committee and contracted with an email program to improve communications with our members.  Six “outside the gates” social programs were held and membership continued to increase. The annual Black & White (with a touch of yellow) dinner was held in conjunction with the golf outing.  The WCMA awarded $83,850 to 21 organizations.

2016 - In 2016 the board adopted a logo for the WCMA.  After adding a tennis event and moving the spring clothing drive to coincide with the golf tournament and the Black & White (with a touch of blue) dinner, it became apparent that our fundraising event had reached a new level.  It was christened the “Weekend of Giving” and WCMA set a new record.  By the end of 2016 we had awarded almost $124,000 to local charities. Our grant to Buncombe County Special Olympics generated both TV and newspaper coverage.

2017 - Bob Irelan chaired the Weekend of Giving and broke all records for the amount of money raised. We awarded $180,000 to 32 different charities. We revamped our website and put more focus on communicating with our members. We attended a play at Flatrock Playhouse, toured the Thomas Wolfe house, tasted flights of wine at Burnshirt Winery and dined at the Brevard Music Center before enjoying one of their sold-out performances.

2018 - We broke a record again with the amount of money raised through the Weekend of Giving. We awarded $320,000 to 36 charities. Because our membership had grown and our organization was becoming more complex, we invested in a new software program, Your Membership. Terms of office for board members were reduced from three years to two years to enable more new members to take on leadership roles. While our visits to the Pinball Museum and Hemingway's Cuba (a new rooftop restaurant) were big hits, the highlight of the year was our bus trip to PARI.

2019 - It was another banner year for the WCMA. We surveyed our membership and decided to focus on our members rather than outside sponsors for the Weekend of Giving. While we truly appreciate our corporate sponsors, we wanted to ensure that our members felt appreciated, too. So we eliminated some of the events and restricted the number of corporate sponsors, increasing the value of their sponsorship. We moved the tent to the back of the Pro Shop, which was a huge success because the view was spectacular. We distributed $380,000 in grants to 39 different local charities. We attended a wonderful performance at Flat Rock Playhouse and enjoyed a special dinner at Cultura, Wicked Weed's new restaurant.

Summary to date:

Since its 2007 inception, the WCMA has awarded 346 grants, totaling over $1,600,000, to a diverse range of nonprofits in western North Carolina. We began with just 56 members, but over the past 13 years have grown to over 300 members, many of whom volunteer as officers and committee members.