By LINDA LAMP
ASHEVILLE – WNC Communities celebrated 66 years of community achievement through the WNC Honors Awards Program on Saturday, Nov. 7 as 250 community leaders from 14 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were recognized and rewarded for their exceptional community development programs at a luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Asheville.
The Big Cove Community and the Big Y Community were both named Communities of Promise and given cash awards of $1,000 each.
“Rural communities are the lifeblood of the mountain region working day in and day out to improve the quality of life for residents,” states Linda Lamp, executive director of WNC Communities. “It is our honor to recognize the community organizations from the Eastern Band of Cherokee and highlight their best practices which can be replicated throughout the region.”
Big Cove was recognized for creating opportunities to enhance and perpetuate the Cherokee culture. Their Woman’s Group received grant funds from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to teach sewing, cooking and craft classes. Their largest event Kolanvyi Day was turned into a fund raiser to benefit a cause which has impacted many families in their community, the Cherokee Cancer Support Group. Big Cove was also honored for hosting tribal programs this year focusing discussions on sustainability and held discussions on bringing back the fishing season. Big Cove is currently in the planning stages of building a new community facility to increase opportunities to share the Cherokee Culture and traditional ways with future generations.
Big Y was recognized for receiving a DARE grant of $4,400 to obtain equipment for all ages to start an archery club. Volunteers provide safety briefings, demonstrate and teach how to shoot the bows so entire families can participate in this weekly activity. Big Y was also honored for their work on a Community Watch program to purchase outdoor cameras for use in areas of concern, as well as lessening their carbon footprint on the environment by using all natural biodegradable paper products at their events.
Participating Communities receive a cash award of $300 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year. The EBCI winners in this category for 2015 were the Painttown Community, the Snowbird Community, the Tow String Community and the Wolftown Community.
Community centers and clubs across the region voluntarily participate in the annual WNC Honors Awards Program by submitting an application to WNC Communities in September. The 65 communities involved in this year’s program represented a total of 5,711 volunteers with 133,390 hours in outreach programs.