YMCA of Western North Carolina

Asheville, NC   |  http://www.ymcawnc.org/


To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirits, minds, and bodies for all.

Notes from the nonprofit

Our cause-driven work to build healthier communities includes three focus areas—youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

At the Y, we believe all kids have potential and should have the opportunity to discover who they are, express themselves, and be nurtured in all their possibility. We believe the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for life. Because of the Y, more young people are taking a greater interest in learning and making smarter life choices. At the Y, children and teens learn values and positive behaviors, and can explore their unique talents and interests, helping them realize their potential. That makes for confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults.

We believe that everyone has the desire to be well and that wellbeing is best cultivated by providing supportive relationships and environments and that all people should have the opportunity to be well in spirit, mind, and body.

With a mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all, our impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice. The generosity of others is at the core of the Y’s existence as a nonprofit. It is only through the support of our volunteers and public and private donors that we are able to support and give back to the communities we engage.

Ruling year info


President and CEO

Paul P. Vest

Co Principal Officer

Jes Williams

Main address

40 N. Merrimon Ave. Suite 309

Asheville, NC 28804 USA

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Formerly known as

YMCA of Asheville



NTEE code info


Physical Fitness/Community Recreational Facilities (N30)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week, evidence-based, small group program designed for adult cancer survivors who become deconditioned or chronically fatigued from treatment, disease or condition. Goals include increasing flexibility, strength and endurance, and improving functional ability. Additional benefits that generally result from participation include lessened severity of side effects of treatment, prevention of unwanted weight changes, improved energy levels, and improved self-esteem. The program also aims to help participants develop a wellness program so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery but as a way of life. In addition to the physical benefits, the program provides participants with a supportive environment and a feeling of community with their fellow survivors, Y staff, family members, and other Y members.

Population(s) Served

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program provides afterschool services for at-risk and underserved students from Enka, Erwin, Reynolds and Owen middle schools within the Buncombe County School (BCS) system. Program runs 4 days per week, 3 ½ hours per day at each school, with field trips and special events many Fridays. 21st CCLC emphasizes academic achievement by providing one hour of daily math/literacy tutoring and homework help led by certified BCS teachers. The program also works to improve parental involvement and support student development through daily enrichment activities in the arts, service-learning, health/wellness, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), and character development within the Developmental Assets® framework. The Search Institute determined that these developmental assets are positive experiences and qualities young people need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible adults and contribute to minimizing risky behaviors.

Population(s) Served

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) helps adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating more nutritiously, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease. Based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this program reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%. This reduction is even greater (71%) among adults aged 60 years or older.

Primary care physicians from both hospital systems in our county (Mission Health and Blue Ridge Healthcare), the Health Department and our local free healthcare clinic provide a steady stream of prospective participants, directly referring patients at risk of developing the disease or already diagnosed with prediabetes to this program. Case workers at the Department of Social Services also refer clients who receive Food and Nutrition Services.

To be eligible for this program, an individual must be at least 18 years old, have a body mass index greater than or equal to 25, and either have a formal diagnosis of prediabetes or be considered at risk for developing the disease (as determined by a combination of risk factors). Since retention for the entire year of the program is critical, extensive intake interviews are conducted with all potential participants to ensure that they fully understand the intensive nature of the program, that they are fully committed to actively participating the entire year of the program, and that they have the ability and the desire to implement significant and permanent lifestyle changes.

Population(s) Served

Taking Control of Type 2 is a free year-long program for eligible adults (age 18-64) who live in McDowell County and have been diagnosed by a physician in the past 5 years with either insulin dependent or non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes. Since approximately 32% of households in our county live at or below the Federal Poverty Limit, more than 10,000 families receive food and nutrition benefits, and 23% of our adults are unemployed, low income individuals (who are disproportionately affected by this disease) will be specifically targeted for this program and allotted 75% of the available participant slots. Approximately half of these individuals (45) will be Medicaid beneficiaries while the other half (45) will be uninsured. The remaining 25% of slots will be filled with 30 individuals who are privately insured. Participant referrals for insured patients (either privately insured or with Medicaid coverage) will be generated through physicians from each of our local primary care practices, while referrals for the uninsured participants will come from the Good Samaritan Clinic. The physicians in this county have embraced this program and are committed to “prescribing” it to eligible patients and providing a steady stream of referrals.

Population(s) Served

Project RISE (Reaching Individual Success through Empowerment) is a program offering academic support to Buncombe County and Asheville City youth (grades 4-6), who struggle in school due to limited language abilities, socioeconomic challenges, lack of caretaker attention, or other barriers. School administration refers students at risk of academic failure. RISE provides support which many parents are unable to give. Offered 5 days a week (3.5 hours per day), programming emphasizes academic support by providing math and literacy tutoring led by certified teachers. Enrichment activities are provided in arts, wellness, cultural diversity and character development through the Developmental Assets® framework. RISE students graduating to Buncombe County middle schools will enter 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and RISE students graduating to Asheville City middle schools will enter In Real Life for continued service.

Population(s) Served

Summer Discovery is a 7-week specialized summer program targeting economically-disadvantaged youth from Enka, Erwin, Owen, and Reynolds middle schools (yet open to all local middle school students), who have no opportunities for enriched learning during summer months. We take referrals from administrators, counselors and teachers who know family situations. Students engage in academic enrichment activities through experiential learning focused on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), literacy, arts, culture and recreation, all of which align with Common Core State and NC Essential Standards. Developmental Assets® curriculum is incorporated to build character, explore diversity, and promote youth empowerment. With the assistance of program staff, certified teachers will facilitate morning academics, which will create 1:7 ratio for instruction. Collaborations with new and existing community partners will enable service and career exploration.

Population(s) Served

Through the Healthy Living Food Programs, the Y distributes food and other free resources to families in need. In April 2014, the Y launched the Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen, which serves meals to children in under-served areas, distribute fresh produce to families, and offer nutrition education opportunities.

Working with MANNA Food Bank, the Pantry has brought in over 13,000 pounds of food to over 200 adults and children since it opened mid-November 2013. As the pantry grows, families will participate in hands-on nutrition education through a partnership with Inter Faith Food Shuttle and Share Our Strengths Cooking Matters programs.

Our Healthy Living Community Gardens provide youth life lessons and opportunities to serve their community. The Y is establishing gardens at several Afterschool sites to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution and to help combat hunger and poverty in our community.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goals of the YMCA are founded in our three focus areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility:
1. Provide safe and nurturing environments to enable all kids the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve;
2. Improve our communities’ health and well-being; and
3. Strengthen our community and ensure access to all.

In our 7 year forecast, we will continue to work toward the goals of its 2020 Strategic Vision Plan of building a healthier community. We focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in all service areas. This focus helps plan better, impact the greater community needs, and to stay efficient with both financial and human resources. The Y will continue to grow in the areas of membership and program services but is also focused on financial development and partnerships. Strategic planning and visioning has given the Y the ability to focus on impact and an outcome of stronger, healthier communities.

The YMCA of Western North Carolina runs 25 programs that focus on academic achievement and healthy living for the children and families throughout the region. These programs are successful because of numerous private and public partnerships and collaborations. We partner with Buncombe, Henderson, and McDowell County Schools, Literacy Council of Buncombe County, Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, United Way of Henderson County, Hands On volunteer center, 2-1-1 of Western North Carolina, LEAF in Streets and Schools, UNC Asheville, Western Carolina University, Lenoir Rhyne University, Warren Wilson College, Mediation Center, Colburn Earth Science Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, Mission Health, Pardee Hospital, McDowell County Health Coalition, CarePartners Health Services, Buncombe and McDowell County Departments of Health and Human Services, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, MANNA Food Bank, and Kate B. Reynolds Healthy Places. We are also in talks with the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to support camp programming and annual support. Finally, while the base of our operating revenue is membership dues, we continually seek support from granting institutions and have successfully managed grants from the United Way, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kate B. Reynolds Foundation, and the Community Foundation of WNC, among others.

The YMCA of Western North Carolina has focused on establishing, growing and improving programs to serve a community with many unique needs.

We successfully engaged 196 adults in our Diabetes Prevention Program since May of 2012. With a 90% retention rate, participants averaged a 10.9% weight loss (vs. 4.9% national average) and dramatic reductions in glucose. With ten new classes beginning in 2014, we are committed to serving 120 adults in McDowell County, 60 adults in Henderson County, and XX in Buncombe County.

We are currently collaborating with McDowell Hospital on the Taking Control of Type 2 program, serving adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is the first initiative of its kind to combine an ADA-accredited diabetes education curriculum with physical activity and behavior change support. Initial results show participant retention at 90% and an average weight loss of 4.3%. This program began a study with Mission Hospital’s Institutional Review Board in March 2014.

We have served 326 cancer survivors and their families through our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, and our Y was also responsible for leading a cohort of 16 YMCAs across the Southeast, bringing this program to the region. Locally, data shows an average increase of 48% in upper body strength, 42% increase in lower body strength, and 62% increase in cardiovascular ability.

We provide 4 and 5-star-rated, licensed traditional afterschool and summer programming for approximately 850 elementary school youth (ages 5-12) at 17 sites all over Buncombe County and in McDowell County. We also provide free afterschool and summer programming to over 250 at-risk and under-performing youth (grades 3-8) from four Buncombe County School sub-districts and also from the community surrounding our Corpening Memorial YMCA in McDowell County.

We transformed our Youth Services Center and its 8 acres into a community resource, including a community garden, group sporting events, meetings, corporate events, picnic groves, a food pantry, and a mobile kitchen outreach.

Our Healthy Living Pantry (HLP) opened in November of 2013. Since then, we have served over 280 families and distributed over 19,000 pounds of food and personal supplies. The aim is to provide wholesome foods to participants while also providing nutrition education opportunities.

Our Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen (HLMK) was created in 2013 and launched in 2014 for food outreach throughout our community. The HLMK is a transformed 72-passenger school bus retrofitted with a full kitchen for cooking demonstrations, a 20-seat classroom for nutrition education, and hanging baskets for produce distribution.


YMCA of Western North Carolina

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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YMCA of Western North Carolina

Board of directors
as of 02/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. William Hathaway

Mission Hospital

Term: 2014 - 2016

Charles Frederick

TD Bank

Michael Crawford

Dixon Hughes Goodman

Amy Hanks

Beverly Hanks & Associates

Kathy Guyette

Mission Hospitals

Rick Lutovsky

Ash. Area Chamber of Com. Retired

Charles Davis

TD Bank

Christine Simolke


Tom Owens

First Citizens Bank

Tom Ryan

Auster Capital Partners

Steve White

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Retired

Teresa Edwards

C. Edwards Group, Inc.

Gary Foss

GFoss Consulting LLC

Bill Ryals


Sara Bissette


Gibbie Harris

Buncombe County Dept. of Health

John Pierce

UNC Asheville

Greg Burnette

First Citizens Bank

Tate Groome

Colton Groome and Company

Kevin Hefner

Wachovia Wells Fargo

Ricky Jordan


Julie Kepple

Buncome County District Court

Amy Knight

City of Hendersonville

Steve Orr

PSNC Energy, Retired

Kay Sinclair

McDowell County Board of Ed Retired

Tracy Buchanan


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes