It has indeed been a time of growth and achievement for the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation. Whether it was bringing in new, highly active board members, dramatically growing the Founder’s Circle, offering estate planning seminars, or awarding grants and recognizing the achievements of our own residents, the Foundation has firmly established itself as a growing force for good in the Gorge.

The Annual Community Impact Award: This year’s recipients were Russ Pitts and Lynn Carnes. Russ is known to most residents for his tireless work for Lake Lure Classical Academy, both before it was established, during its early beginnings and then most recently, in overseeing construction and opening of the permanent campus on Island Creek Road. Russ has also, throughout his time in Lake Lure, been highly instrumental in establishing and maintaining numerous lake management projects, practices and policies, both as a volunteer and later as a town commissioner.

Lynn has been highly supportive toward Lake Lure Classical Academy as well, having served as past chair of the Lake Lure Community Education Foundation and as a current member of the school’s newly energized marketing committee. She has been an ardent supporter of land conservation in the Gorge, serving as past chair of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. She has also shared her professional skills as a consultant and coach in facilitating several retreats in the Gorge. These include school board retreats, Chamber board retreats and community retreats to address the creation of an online clearinghouse of news and events. As a result of Lynn’s facilitation of that, two online news sites were created: and

“Russ and Lynn embody what the Community Impact award is all about,” said Foundation board chair, Michael Frierman. “They have worked quietly and tirelessly in the Gorge for many years. The impact they have made clearly symbolizes our tagline of, ‘Giving beyond the Horizon.’”

In honor of Russ and Lynn the Foundation will award a grant to the Lake Lure Classical Academy. This grant will be utilized for the purchase of six Google Chrome Books for the Exceptional Children’s Department.

Additional grants awarded over the last 12-18 months have  included Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach, the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, MAHEC, the Friends of the Mountain Branch Library and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

As a component fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Foundation was started in 2007. Its endowment has grown to $110,000 which his produced nearly $11,000 in grants over the years. It is only through the interest generated from the endowment that the board of advisors can award grants.

The stronger the donor base, the larger the endowment grows. The larger the endowment becomes, the more interest is generated, and the more grants can be awarded.

The most efficient and affordable means for growing the endowment is through the Foundation’s Founder’s Circle – it’s a pledge of $250 a year for ten years. The Founder’s Circle was started in 2011 with the first members to support it, being Lake Lure residents, Joe and Mabel Satrape. Today, there are nearly 50 members.

Other, more long-term ways include estate planning.  To learn more about that and the work of the Foundation, visit


Contributed by Valerie a. Hoffman, HNG Foundation Board of Directors.


Artist, VeryleLynn Cox (center) presents a special gift to Annual Community Impact Award recipients Russ Pitts and Lynn Carnes with Lake Lure mayor Bob Keith applauding. Mayor Keith presented to the couple the Annual Community Impact Award moments earlier.