Founded in 1965, Mountain Projects is a community-based non-profit providing vital services to the elderly, disadvantaged and the general public in Western North Carolina. Begun with a $52,000 Office of Economic Opportunity grant and a pilot summer Head Start program, the agency has grown to an annual budget of eleven million dollars, a staff of 140, and provides a wide array of services to the community in response to its changing needs.
Mountain Projects’ motto is ‘Helping People Help Themselves’, and nowhere is this more evident than in their self-help, owner-built housing program, where participants save money and earn "sweat equity" toward their new home by completing 65% of the labor themselves. No construction experience is required, and Mountain Projects provides a construction supervisor to assist future homeowners through the process. All homes are financed with low-interest Rural Home Loans, further improving the homes' affordability.
Mountain Projects has built 51 homes through this program. Affordable homes are part of basic human needs and this program fulfills a dream for many.
Mountain Projects also offers a Housing Rehabilitation program affiliated with the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program. With the goal of reducing the energy burden on low-income families, Mountain Projects’ weatherization technicians carry out computerized energy audits and advanced diagnostic technologies, such as blower doors and duct blasters, to discover the most cost-effective, energy efficiency updates for each home After their services have been provided, most families experience an average energy use reduction of 20 percent or more, translating to hundreds of dollars put back in their pockets to buy groceries, visit a doctor, buy medicine, and generally improve their standard of living.
Other home services provided include home repair and rental assistance for low-income families.
Obviously, the pandemic has impacted the services of non-profits like Mountain Projects. Administrative Assistant Alice Ensley tells us, “We are operating and serving all our programs, just in a different way. We complete as many applications electronically as possible and serve clients curbside. Only half the staff is in the office at one time, but we work at home for the rest of the time and continue to be productive. We deliver boxes of food and other items to those who cannot or do not wish to travel out.”
Mountain Projects offers additional services ranging from services for seniors (senior care and companionship, nutrition, in-home services and more) to services for children, transportation, health insurance counselors, and more. “Our youngest client is three months and our oldest is 90,” says Alice. “It is rewarding to serve such a diverse population. I've been at Mountain Projects for five years and this year has been a challenge in many ways, but I know the staff here tries their best to help people any way they can and supply basic human needs. We genuinely care about each client.”
You can support this amazing organization through a variety of targeted donations. Perhaps you’d like to help a senior citizen with heating needs or a meal, sponsor a GED participant, or sponsor a child for a weekend meal. There are so many opportunities and so much need. You can reach Mountain Projects with your questions at email@example.com.