Women of Mountain City volunteer Ellen Watkins shows a few food items gathered to fight food insecurity. The day prior, volunteers passed out approximately 700 period products at the First Christian Church Food Drive in only four hours. Submitted photo.
By Meg Dickens
Johnson County is full of nonprofits and charitable organizations working hard to improve the area. Despite their best efforts, something often stands in the way. Local organizations need funding to continue to grow and foster growth in the community.
As we all know, Johnson County is below the poverty line, meaning that family income is below a specific benchmark denoting the area as poor by government standards. This is why students receive free meals in Johnson County Schools. According to the US Census, 20.7 percent of people in Johnson County are in poverty, while the national average as of 2019 falls around 10.5 percent. The US average has been decreasing for five consecutive years, but numbers may change based on the effects of COVID-19. Johnson County’s rates have been relatively stagnant in recent history.
Organizations such as the Mountain City /Johnson County Community Center suffer from lost funding with no way to supplement it. The Lottery for Education: Afterschool Programs (LEAPS) grant, previously providing $50,000, was discontinued this year. According to recent reports, the Center had to close its game room and computer lab and now combats low staffing and supply shortages.
Similarly, the Johnson County Senior Center has gained approximately four times its previous member count since Director Kathy Motsinger took over in 2017. According to County Mayor Mike Taylor, the Senior Center has the highest turnout per capita in the surrounding areas, but, unlike those centers and previous directors, did not have any additional help until the county approved one new part-time worker for clerical work at the end of 2019.
Nonprofits like A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition and Women of Mountain City focus on education and bettering the community through a variety of means. A.C.T.I.O.N has been around for approximately 15 years and focuses on reducing drug-use in Johnson County. Most recently, the organization was reaching out for help to participate in Johnson County Schools’ Red Ribbon Week.
Women of Mountain City is a relatively new organization and has big plans for the area, one of which is a women’s center called The Pod. While mainly focused on period poverty, Women of MC also distributes clothes and food and partners with other groups to bring financial assistance to the area. With all of its activities, officials report they have had little time to fundraise.
Any of these groups are open to donations. In response to a previous article, the Mountain City branch of Elizabethton Federal reached out to announce they will be presenting a check to the Mountain City /Johnson County Community Center shortly. Locals online also came up with a fundraising idea. Details are still vague, and nothing is confirmed as of yet, but the plan is to host a 5k run fundraiser. Stay tuned for any updates.