“Money can be spent easily, but with nothing to show for it. We can’t have that. We have this opportunity to change Western North Carolina for the better for everybody, and we have to do that. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
A kidney transplant in 1992 caused George Renfro to become more aware, and more involved, in the health care needs of his community. A former member of the Mission Health System board and current trustee of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, he says there’s nothing more rewarding than supporting institutions that touch the lives of so many people: “Truly, you can see you’re helping everybody by having a health system that provides care for everyone.”
George has lived all of his life in Western North Carolina, growing up in Yancey County and earning a degree in accounting from Mars Hill College. He worked his way up to partner at a local CPA firm, then joined one of his clients, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Affiliated Inc. as CFO, eventually becoming COO and co-owner.
Throughout his career he has also been heavily involved in serving the Western North Carolina community, including: Daniel Boone Council of Boy Scouts; United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County; Mars Hill College; UNCA Foundation; Community Foundation of Western North Carolina; North Carolina Kidney Foundation; Mission Hospital McDowell; Angel Medical Center; Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry; and the Vulnerable Care Task Force in both Buncombe and Macon County.
One of his proudest achievements is helping develop the campaign to build a neonatal intensive care unit at Mission Hospital.
“We’d bring people up to tour the facilities and sometimes the space was so tight, the incubators would have to be out in the hall,” recalls George. “Parents would have to make appointments to sit with their babies. Everyone saw and understood how important the need was for so many in the community, which is why we ended up raising $8 million instead of the $6 million we were seeking.”
George believes that same type of resourcefulness and generosity is needed to address the broader health needs of Western North Carolina.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and analyzing,” said George, “but we’ve got to do this right. Dogwood Health Trust is committed to setting goals and doing things that are measurable. Then when we accomplish what we set out to do, we can move those goals to higher levels.”