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Dogwood Health Trust provides $1M to United Way of Haywood County

Grant funds will be used to support the immediate needs of those affected by the Pactiv Evergreen paper mill closure

Dogwood Health Trust is providing a $1 million grant to the United Way of Haywood County to support the Canton Mill Closure Emergency Response Project, which will provide financial assistance to individuals and families in need as a result of the Canton (Pactiv Evergreen) Mill closure. The plant, which closed on June 8, had been in operation since 1908 and was the largest employer in the town. The United Way of Haywood County will work closely with Mountain Projects and other community partners to address the needs of former mill employees, according to a press release.

“Haywood County designated the United Way as the trusted organization to receive donations during Tropical Storm Fred, and we are fortunate to be able to do so again,” said David Francis, program administrator for Haywood County. “Dogwood’s funding will allow this organization to once again step in with multiple partners to help those in need.”

“Once again, public and private partnerships are coming together to help the people of western North Carolina,” said Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers. “This wonderful grant will help us build on our tradition of working together to create a hometown of tomorrow that respects and honors our past yet builds a bold future. We are blessed to have Dogwood Health Trust, the United Way and others who value all people as we face these challenging times,” said Mayor Smathers.

“Our many conversations with county, town, and community leaders made it clear that the community trusts the United Way of Haywood County to distribute these funds,” said Dr. Susan Mims, CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “Their proven partnerships with other local organizations will ensure that these funds are used efficiently and effectively to support the workers’ unmet needs through this challenging time.”

“The United Way of Haywood County is honored to again help our community,” said Executive Director Celesa Willett. “Our mission is to improve the health, education, and economic stability of our neighbors. This grant will certainly allow our organization to make that happen.”

In addition to this gift, Dogwood is supporting the Southwestern Commission to conduct a regional study of the mill closure’s economic impact and will continue working directly with local and regional partners, as well as philanthropic and other organizations, to assist those affected by this event. 

“Although the mill closure creates an economic crisis, we also know that there will be ripple effects that impact all of Dogwood’s strategic priority areas: housing, education, economic opportunity, and health and wellness,” said Mims. “We know that individuals who were not directly employed by the mill will also feel the repercussions of this event. The people of Canton, Haywood County and all of WNC are resourceful and resilient, and we remain committed to helping them create places where everyone can live, learn, earn and thrive — no exceptions.” 

Editor’s Note: Dogwood Health Trust supports the work of EdNC.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.