The greater Mount Airy community has suffered another blow with the decision by the Gilmer-Smith Foundation to cease all programming and eliminate the executive director position held by Ann Vaughn.
In making the move, the foundation said it is simply economics — over the years, the foundation’s resources have dwindled to the point that the board which governs the organization felt it could no longer afford anything but basic maintenance of the properties it maintains — the Gertrude Smith House and the Dr. Robert Smith House.
In the grand scheme of things, this does not have the devastating effect on families and the community that a business closing has. Still, the loss of the programming there — from Halloween story telling to the Victorian Christmas events, from the St. Patrick’s Day fun to the summer concert series — certainly makes Mount Airy a poorer place.
We feel badly for Vaughn, as well. She has worked tirelessly to promote the two properties and the various programs, going far beyond the expectations many non-profits have for such positions. She’s played an important role in helping the tourism industry develop in Mount Airy as well as contributing to the quality of life in the city. Again, the loss of her work there will be a loss for the community as a whole.
We don’t now what the future holds, nor how realistic this might be, but we certainly hope at some point down the road the foundation finds itself in a position to reopen the two properties for at least some of the activities the community has enjoyed there over the years.