ASHEVILLE – The WNC Honors Awards is built on a 68-year-old tradition of recognizing rural community development clubs for their innovative ideas and grassroots solutions. Several communities of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were honored recently by the organization which covers 15 North Carolina counties and the Tribe.
The Big Cove Community Club and the Big Y Community Club both received the Communities of Promise award which includes a $1,000 cash award. Winners of this award are chosen because of the initiatives implemented by the community that show promise and can be replicated around the region.
Big Cove was honored for working on plans for a new community center while securing temporary space for community activities and events to continue over the next year. Several other programs of note were Big Smiles for Big Cove, an opportunity to educate children on the importance of proper oral hygiene and their ladies cultural group keeping Cherokee traditions alive through cooking, sewing, beading and quilting. In addition, the community stickball team was celebrated for teaching younger generations this traditional game.
Big Y was recognized for raising grant funds from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to purchase a metal building, fencing and a tractor. The tractor is a significant piece of equipment to increase their capacity to do backhoe work, snow removal, bush hogging, plowing community gardens and numerous other tasks. Big Y was also praised for their youth good grade incentive program, recycling efforts by giving out home recycling bins on Earth day and collaborating with other communities to host suppers to feed approximately 200 firefighters battling fires in the area last fall.
Participating Communities receive a cash award of $250 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year. Both the Snowbird Community and Towstring received this designation for the year.
“We should all be grateful for the dedication rural communities put into making the mountains a place we can all be proud to call home.” shared Linda Lamp, WNC Honors Program executive director. “For over 68 years, the WNC Honors program has served as an inspiration for continuing and replicating community success.”
Sponsorships from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Valley River Casino & Hotel, Biltmore Farms Inc., Duke Energy, Mission Health, The McClure Fund, First Citizens Bank, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Credit, and Wells Fargo brought in a record amount of $40,500 to award to the 65 community centers and clubs in the region.
Community centers and clubs across the mountain region voluntarily participate in the annual cash awards program by submitting an application to WNC Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to strategies to improve rural community life. The 65 communities involved this year represent over 13,500 volunteers with 173,000 hours in outreach programs dedicated to education, health, conservation and events highlighting the mountain’s great art, craft, and music traditions, as well as collaborative efforts with government, churches, community colleges, nonprofits and small businesses. In addition, the collective fundraising efforts of these communities brought in over $865,000 for everything from neighbor helping neighbor to food pantries, community gardens, school supplies, senior meal sites, military honorariums, preserving mountain heritage and funds dedicated to the upgrades and maintenance of these rural beacons known as community centers.
– WNC Honors Program