Asheville woman gives time, money

Diane Mance
Diane Mance

Todd Cohen

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — As the second-oldest of six children, Diane Mance says, she learned from her parents that everyone in the household was “expected to do our fair share.”

She also learned about giving back from her mother, a plant supervisor for the Government Printing Office who volunteered in the parochial school Mance attended in Washington, D.C., and from her father, who worked for the U.S. Post Office and volunteered with youth sports groups her brother joined.

Now, after raising three daughters who all are grown, and after working as a teacher’s assistant in the McDowell County Schools, coordinator of a county program there to match mentors with children involved in the juvenile justice system, and case worker in the county school system, Mance spends most of her time serving on boards and volunteering in the Asheville area.

Mance and her husband Bill, who worked for a pharmaceutical firm in McDowell County after serving in the U.S. Army, moved to Asheville 10 years ago, where Bill Mance served as a vice president at Mission Hospital.

Diane Mance serves on at least nine boards, including the vestry at St. Matthias Episcopal Church, ARC of Buncombe County, Diana Wortham Theatre, the statewide Community Alternatives for Youth, and the Asheville chapter of The LINKS, an African-American women’s service organization.

In addition to serving as board president for the local LINKS chapter, Mance also meets the group’s requirement that members volunteer 48 hours a year.

She also volunteers as a mentor in a Buncombe County middle school, as a volunteer for the local chapter National Association for Mental Illness, and for Ladies Nite Out, a collaborative program that provides free mammograms and other tests for women who do not have health insurance or are underinsured.

Mance’s mother, who died of emphysema, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her sister was diagnosed with the disease a year ago after getting a mammogram.

“They caught it early enough,” Mance says. “I think it’s so important that women get this test.”

In addition to serving on the vestry at her church, Mance serves on the board of Episcopal Church Women for the Diocese of Western North Carolina and this summer served a deputy to the general convention, held in Anaheim, of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.

And she and her husband both serve on the Diocese’s Commission to Dismantle Racism, a group that works to “make people more aware of white privilege,” she says.

She also serves on the chaplaincy committee of the Swannanoa Correctional Facility for Women, helping to raise money to support two chaplains at the facility.

In addition to volunteering, which she estimates leaves her a couple of free days a week, including weekends, Mance is a charter member and serves on the steering committee of Women for Women, a fund at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

The women’s fund has enlisted nearly 300 members who each give $1,100 a year for three years, and help give it away to local causes they select.

And once a month, she volunteers for Ladies Nite Out, a program that includes a partner agency the women’s fund has supported.

With their oldest daughter working as vice president of a bank in Athens, Ga., their middle daughter teaching at a middle school in Wake County, and their youngest daughter working as a lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Mance says, she and her husband have had a good life.

“It is part of your responsibility to give back to your community,” she says. “You need to be aware of the issues that are in your community.”

If people “go through life and close our eyes and pretend that nothing is wrong out there,” she says, “we can’t be a true person of the community.”

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