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Denny Huff, who joined the Bedford Community Health Foundation as its new executive director on April 8, has spent the last 20 years — the entire time since graduating from college — working for non-profit organizations.
Huff has a bachelor’s degree in history and he originally intended to teach history and political science. However, the first opportunity that opened up for him after graduation was with a non-profit organization. He took it, loved it and made non-profit organizations his career.
“You can see your impact on people,” he said.
Huff was born in Lynchburg but his family moved to North Carolina when he was 12. After high school graduation, he worked several jobs, and took his core college classes, while he figured out what he wanted to do. When he was 23, he returned to Lynchburg to go to Lynchburg College.
His parents came back to this area, too. They both live in Bedford, and he has other relatives who live in Bedford County. Huff, himself, lives in Vinton.
While he’s always worked for non-profit organizations, taking the helm at the Health Foundation marks a change for him.
“I’ve always been on the program side, writing grants seeking money,” he said.
Now, he’s sitting on the funding side of the table. The Health Foundation provides grants for programs and projects dealing with the Bedford area’s health needs.
He enjoys the chance to look at data and see what sort of story it tells about local health needs.
His first few weeks involved getting up to speed on what’s going on. Huff said Mary Wiley has been a great help. Wiley has worked for the Health Foundation for seven years.
“Having someone like Mary is helpful,” he said.
Along with making grants, the Health Foundation administers funds for some organizations, such as BEDCO Cares. It has 501 (c) 3 status, so the Foundation can accept tax-exempt donations earmarked for these groups. The BCHF has fiscal management experience and, as a non-profit, it is in a position to apply for grants on behalf of these organizations.
“This is what the Foundation does, grant management and funding,” he said.
Huff’s goal, as the Health Foundation’s director, is to enhance community awareness of the Foundation and what it does, along with building its financial resources.
“The more money we have, the more money we have to give out in grants,” he said.
He also wants to raise community awareness about what the agencies that receive Health Foundation grants do.
“It’s about making Bedford a healthier community,” he said.
Huff said a needs assessment is in progress and this may reveal the need for a new outreach, or an expansion of existing programs. Bedford Ride came into being as the result of a community health assessment done at the turn of the century. The health assessment revealed a need for non-emergency medical transportation.