September 22, 2011; Source: The Mountain Times | In the good news department, the Appalachian Women’s Fund (AWF), the only independent, women-run, women’s fund serving the mountain communities in Watauga County North Carolina, surpassed its previous records and distributed grants totalling $68,000 to 12 nonprofit agencies serving impoverished women and children in the Appalachian region. That’s an 8 percent increase over last year’s disbursement.

The impact is searingly local and critical, including education and domestic violence programs and, for instance, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture which helps female farmers and distributors with creative solutions for production sustainability, Community Care Clinic. But these are the kinds of programs that need to be watched for their innovation. AWF president Patti Turner says that the fund provides a lot of bank for the buck. “Each grant cycle opens our eyes to both the growing need to help women and girls and the creative ways agencies on shoe-string budgets rise to the task.”

AWF is four years old. Founding member Debbie Stevens told the Mountaineer, “Donors appreciate our coming through the lean years and changing the landscape for disenfranchised women and girls.” AWF’s success is admirable given the financial condition of the country, yet as NPQ’s Rick Cohen so often reminds us, support for rural communities is essential.—Kristin Barrali