“I want Dogwood to be a national model for sustainable health and wellness. By collaborating with nonprofit partners and other endowments, we can do transformational things for Western North Carolina.”
Born in Boone, Janice Brumit has spent most of her life in North Carolina. She’s as rooted in this community as the community is rooted in her.
“From the culture to the music,” Janice explains, “there’s a deep spiritual quality to the mountains of North Carolina. This place – and the people in it – are very important to me.”
Growing up, her family didn’t have much money. They lived paycheck to paycheck, but as she recalls, “We didn’t know we were poor. There were so many others I knew who were in the same boat.” Proud of her Scotch-Irish heritage, she says, “We did the best we could and were resourceful.”
From a young age, Janice knew that education was the key to pursuing her dreams. She was the first in her family to go to college, earning a scholarship and graduating from Appalachian State University.
“Education is the great equalizer,” she said. “You can take a child that’s lived in generational poverty, provide education as a foundation and give them an opportunity to succeed beyond your wildest imagination. With the right resources, you can develop talents you never knew were possible.”
Today, Janice and her husband, Joe, have a considerable impact on their community as owners of 53 Arby’s restaurants across the Carolinas, including the Western North Carolina region served by Dogwood Health Trust. Through the Brumits’ Arby’s restaurants, children in need can get a meal every day during the summer or school holidays.
Janice has received numerous awards for her community service, including the Mountain Child Advocacy Award and the North Carolina Hospital Association Trustee Merit Award in 2017. Her community involvement includes serving on the boards of the Asheville Area Chamber, United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County (Alexis de Tocqueville Society), Blue Ridge Heritage Area, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Mountain Area Health Education Center, North Carolina Rural Center and UNC-Asheville.
As the first chair of Dogwood Health Trust, she recognizes the challenges in this region are many – including concerns like the opioid crisis, affordable housing, achievement gaps, gainful employment and more. But Janice believes that Western North Carolina’s population of less than a million people makes finding solutions achievable.
“With the synergy, energy and passion of this group of board members,” said Janice, “that’s a number we can affect by what we have and what we can leverage. I’m so proud of our board and our staff. We are going to do great things for the communities we’re so proud to call home.”