ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The WNC Honors Awards, a program of WNC Communities, is built on a 73-year tradition of recognizing rural community development clubs for their innovative ideas and grassroots solutions. These centers and clubs are the backbone of community cohesion running through our beloved mountains. The culmination of this year’s WNC Honors Program occurred on Saturday, Nov. 12 with nearly 200 community leaders and volunteers from 15 western North Carolina counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Seven EBCI communities were honored with cash awards and recognition.
All participating communities received $600 to support their efforts. Additionally, communities were assessed across six different competencies and awarded a designation of Trillium, Mountain Laurel, Redbud, or White Oak level according to their demonstrated capacity to lead and serve. These competencies include Good Governance, Leadership Excellence, Financial Stewardship, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention, Community Programs and Civic Engagement, and Collaboration.
Cherokee Indian Community Club and Snowbird were celebrated for achieving the Trillium level. Communities at this level have a solid board of directors, are providing helpful programs to their residents, and are collaborating with at least three community partners.
Big Y, Big Cove, Towstring, and Yellowhill were recognized for advancing to the Mountain Laurel level. Communities at this level have their 501(c)3 status or a fiduciary sponsor, offer several impactful programs to assist their communities, seek training for their board, and are actively collaborating with at least five community partners.
Wolftown advanced to the Redbud level. Communities achieving this level have well developed bylaws, a board-approved strategic plan, active committees running many programs, 50 or more volunteers, and collaborate with at least ten community partners.
WNC Communities also gives out Best in Class Awards to the stand-out communities at each level and features 10 communities in a Best Practice Gallery. Cherokee Indian Community Club and Snowbird were awarded Trillium Best in Class Awards and took home an additional $250 each, while Big Y and Yellowhill were awarded Mountain Laurel Best in Class and received an additional $500. Wolftown was a Featured Community in the event’s Best Practices Gallery for their outstanding art show.
Despite COVID shutting down many of the communities’ usual activities, the 64 communities participating in this year’s program made an incredible $4.7 million investment of time, talent, money and effort in western North Carolina communities. A total of more than 7,100 volunteers invested an impressive 96,158 hours of their time in outreach programs dedicated to feeding people during COVID, recovering from Tropical Storm Fred, and other benevolence projects, education, beautification, health, wellness, and economic development.
Sponsorships from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Harrah’s Valley River Casino & Hotel, Duke Energy, Biltmore Farms, Inc, First Citizens Bank, The McClure Foundation, Wells Fargo, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, New Belgium Brewing, Carolina Farm Credit, and Haywood Regional Medical Center brought in $50,000 to award to the 64 community centers and clubs participating in the 2022 WNC Honors Awards.
- WNC Communities release