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The Grandfather Challenge Hiking Program for At-Risk Students Receives Founder’s Gift from ECRS in Boone

Kim Catoe awards the Founder’s Gift to James & Cheryl Nipper of The Jason Project d/b/a “The Grandfather Challenge”

Although he was struggling with mental illness throughout his mid-teens and young adult life, Jason Matthew Nipper found peace and serenity as he and his parents hiked the challenging trails at Grandfather Mountain in Linville. Jason passed away in 2014, and his parents James & Cheryl Nipper formed a non-profit entity called The Jason Project, Inc., and launched “The Grandfather Challenge” program in 2015 in honor of Jason.

This is a very unique wilderness hiking, adventure, leadership and mentoring program which focuses on teenage students who suffer from mental disorders and/or drug addictions, and also serves kids struggling with other personal problems for reasons beyond their control, including instances of parental abuse or neglect, placement in foster homes, and similar obstacles and challenges in their lives. The foundation provides backpacks, hiking boots, raincoats, and all other costs associated with the program. (For more information about The Jason Project, please go to: www.tinyurl.com/TheJasonProject2019 ).

The Jason Project relies primarily on donor support, and they are very proud and humbled to become the first “Founders Gift” recipients given by Pete and Kim Catoe, the founders of ECRS, a leading technology company headquartered in Boone, NC.  The Jason Project is the first recipient of this company’s special “Founder’s Gift” to help fund the “Grandfather Challenge” program!

ECRS recently announced the winners for their corporate 2019 Community Grant Program.  The local technology company selected worthy causes that strive to make major, positive impacts on the lives of residents in the North Carolina High Country. The Community Grant Winners for 2019 are:

The Friends of Watauga County Public Library
The Youth Services Department at the Watauga County Public Library builds the necessary foundations for love of lifelong learning. One of their goals is to reach underserved populations and at-risk youth. ECRS recognizes the importance of an interest in science in technology and wants to encourage youth involvement in these fields. The Friends of Watauga County Public Library will receive funds for Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics (STEAM) materials that support the library’s many youth learning opportunities.

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is fighting food insecurity in the High Country; their mission is to increase the accessibility to healthy, fresh food for lower-resource individuals. They administer a Double Up Food Bucks program that enables food-insecure families to double their dollars at four of Boone’s Farmers’ Markets. ECRS is proud to support this cause as their point of sale software platform, CATAPULT, also helps retailers implement the Double Up Food Bucks program. The Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture will apply their grant toward sustenance and expansion of their operation.

Bradford Ministries Boys Night/Girls Night
Bradford Park Ministries serves at-risk youth in rural Appalachia who face social and cultural barriers. They will use ECRS’ contribution to support their Boys Night/Girls Night internship program for 9th and 10th graders. The internship helps youth discover passions, gain skills, stay out of trouble, and develop their potential to become greater assets in the community.

Hospitality House
Hospitality House is on a mission to rebuild lives and strengthen the community by providing a safe, nurturing, healthy environment for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty-related crisis. They’re seeking to expand their food pantry operation, which currently assists more than 13,000 individuals who struggle with food insecurity. The average food box provided by Hospitality House serves families with about three day’s worth of food; they hope to extend that to six days. Hospitality House will put grant money toward the expansion of their existing Food Pantry.

Founder’s Gift: The Jason Project, Inc. / “The Grandfather Challenge”
The Jason Project administers a unique hiking program at Grandfather Mountain. Youth who suffer from mental and/or addiction disorders are able to build self-confidence and resiliency by completing “The Grandfather Challenge.” This program features four major hikes during a four-week duration. At the end of the challenge, youth accomplishments are recognized at a special Awards Dinner in their honor. A Founder’s Gift from ECRS’ Founders, Pete and Kim Catoe, will be used to help fund the program.

ECRS has long been active in the Boone community, creating jobs, offering educational opportunities to students, and contributing to local causes. The 2019 Community Grant Program is an extension of ECRS’ mission to improve lives in their home community.

Other worthy causes and organizations which ECRS supports include the following:

  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Watauga Education Foundation
  • Meals on Wheels Program
  • F.A.R.M Cafe
  • B2SF Festival
  • Mountain Alliance
  • Blue Ridge Conservancy
  • Red Cross
  • Community Blood Center of the Carolinas
  • Relay for Life
  • Watauga County Christmas Adopt-a-Child Program
  • Various parks & recreation youth sports teams
  • Watauga High School Athletics and Programs
  • Hospitality House
  • Elementary classroom sponsorships
  • Western Youth Network
  • Children’s Playhouse

James & Cheryl Nipper of The Jason Project are very proud, humbled, and appreciative of the community donor support they have received for their unique hiking program for at-risk kids.   In addition to this latest recognition and donation from ECRS, they have received generous support from the High Country Charitable Foundation and also from Ms. Sandi Solomon of Boca Raton, Florida, and a summer resident of the High Country.