Local Ruritan clubs recognized for community service
by Sherrie Norris
On Saturday, Nov 17, the clubs from Deep Gap, Foscoe and Todd were among 60 community groups honored at the WNC Communities' 63rd annual WNC Honors Awards Program at The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville.
Representatives from 14 Western North Carolina counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee were recognized and rewarded for their exceptional community development programs across the mountains.
"This year marked the 63rd year of this program built on the tradition of recognizing achievements in communities for their work on behalf of their residents," said Linda Lamp, executive director of WNC Communities. "The awards are designed to serve as an inspiration for replicating community success throughout the region."
"We are thankful for the dedication rural communities put into making the mountain region a place we can all be proud to call home," she said.
"Rural community centers and Ruritan clubs in the mountains continue to address critical issues and create innovative programs to impact the daily lives of residents throughout our region," she said. "It is an honor to recognize their annual achievements."
The three Watauga County Ruritan clubs were among 61 groups recognized at the banquet and were among the 48 meeting the criteria of "Participating Communities," in which each received $250, a designation sign and certificate.
According to Lamp, participation in the WNC Honors Awards Program is voluntary and open to all rural community centers and Ruritan clubs in the WNC district served by WNC Communities. Each club is judged on its projects, fundraising efforts, collaboration with local organizations or businesses, economic development and sustainability, as well as their community future and vision.
This year's event sponsors included Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel, Mission Health Systems, Buncombe County Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Credit, Duke Energy, First Citizens Bank, HomeTrust Bank and Wells Fargo.
"These businesses made it possible for us to award over $28,000 to 61 communities throughout Western North Carolina for their innovative approaches to addressing community needs," Lamp said.
Deep Gap Ruritan
Deep Gap Ruritan Club responds on a monthly basis to the various needs of the community through paying for fuel, electric bills, groceries and medical bills for those in need. This past year, the club supported youth by contributing $2,500 in scholarships to local students, donating supplies to Parkway School, as well as supporting the Cub Scouts, Brownies and Boy and Girl Scouts. Deep Gap Ruritan is known as a charitable organization contributing to Relay For Life, Samaritan's Purse, hospice, Mountain Care Rest Home, the Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent Program, the Hunger and Health Coalition, American Legion and others. The group's annual steak dinner and fundraiser brings in more than $20,000 each year, which helps to fund the special projects. The club also participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program and holds roadside cleanup projects on a routine basis. Its members are all active in various other aspects in their community and churches.
As the area's newest Ruritan club, Foscoe Ruritan wasted no time getting organized and holding its first fundraisers, which included a yard sale, several breakfasts and a turkey shoot. The funds raised from the events enabled the club to purchase doggie stations at the Foscoe/Grandfather Community Center Park. The club's largest event this year was the Foscoe Fun Day, featuring an auction, hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks, netted $7,900, some of which was used for scholarships.
Members of Todd Ruritan Club, which sits on the Watauga-Ashe county border, works to improve their community while preserving its character as a historic part of NC Appalachian culture. The club hosts a barbecue fundraising event on the first Saturday of each month to bring area folks into the community, which in turn, has a positive impact on local businesses. The club also sponsors a clean- up project of the railroad grade once a quarter. Todd Ruritan has helped families with medical bills, provided scholarships to college-bound youth, and this year, hosted a Spanish class in the community.