Honors Awards 2017: Honoring Community Development Clubs the Backbone of WNC

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. These centers and clubs are the backbone running through our beloved mountains. The culmination of this year’s program occurred at a luncheon held in November with 240 community leaders from 15 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

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 an impressive 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.

“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, Executive Director. “For over 68 years, the WNC Honors program has served as an inspiration for continuing and replicating community success.”

Communities of Distinction is the highest honor with a cash award of $2,000. Bethel Rural Community Organization and

BETHEL pictured left to right: Lumpy Lambert with Harrah’s presenting award to Susan Baxley, John Baxley, Evelyn Coltman, Dick Coltman, Brian Carr and Shirley Carr

Fine’s Creek Community Association in Haywood County, as well as Shiloh Community Association in Buncombe County are the recipients of the top honor for 2017. These three communities were chosen because of their ability to work together in assessing, developing, and implementing strategies to address community issues.

Communities of Promise receive a cash award of $1,000 and are chosen because of the initiatives implemented by the community that show promise and can be replicated around the region. The 17 winners in this category for the year are;

Buncombe County: Leicester, Sandy Mush, Spring Mountain
Cherokee County: Grape Creek, Unaka
Eastern Band of Cherokee: Big Cove, Big Y
Haywood County: Pigeon

FINES CREEK pictured left to right: James Ferguson, Johnny Haynes, Karen Hammett, Greg Livengood, Charlie Hornbostel and Sheila Hornbostel presented award by Craig DeBrew with Duke Energy

Henderson County: Upper Hickory Nut Gorge
Jackson County: Caney Fork
Macon: Cullasaja, Holly Springs
Madison County: Walnut
Mitchell County: Tipton Hill
Rutherford County: Ellenboro Woman’s Club, Golden Valley
Transylvania County: Cedar Mountain

Engaged Communities receive a cash award of $500 and are involved in numerous programs impacting their residents. The 25 winners in this category for 2017 are;

Ashe County: Peak Creek Ruritan
Buncombe County: Avery’s Creek, Big Ivy, Ox Creek
Cherokee County: Bellview

SHILOH pictured left to right: Tabria Wilson, Darenah Dixon, Laura Lee Petritz, Norma Baynes and Bobbette Mays presented award by Lumpy Lambert with Harrah’s

Clay County: Brasstown
Haywood County: Beaverdam, North Hominy
Henderson County: Crab Creek, Edneyville
Macon County: Carson, Cowee, Otto
Madison County: Center, Greater Ivy, Upper Laurel, Walnut Creek
Rutherford County: Gilkey School, Union Mills, Whitehouse
Transylvania County: Balsam Grove, Dunn’s Rock, Lake Toxaway
Watauga County: Deep Gap Ruritan, Foscoe Ruritan




Participating Communities receive a cash award of $250 each for their successful projects implemented during the past year. The 20 winners in this category for 2017 are;

Ashe County: Todd Ruritan
Buncombe County: Buckeye Cove, Cane Creek, Fairview, Rosscraggon Wood
Cherokee County: Martin’s Creek, Peachtree
Eastern Band of Cherokee: Snowbird, Towstring
Henderson County: Mills River, Upward
Jackson County: Pumpkintown
Macon County: Clark’s Chapel, Nantahala, Upper Cartoogechaye
Madison County: Revere Rice Cove, Spring Creek
Swain County: Whittier
Transylvania County: Little River, Quebec

The Calico Cat award is a time-honored tradition that has been a part of the WNC Honors Awards since 1974. Fired Up Pottery paints the elegant pieces of art each year to reward communities for their work in improving their existing community centers. This year’s Calico Cat is awarded to Cullasaja in Macon County. The Calico Cat Junior is awarded to the Ellenboro Woman’s Club in Rutherford County.


Generous sponsorship dollars brought in a record amount of $40,500 to award to the 65 community centers and clubs in the region.  We are grateful to our sponsors for their unwavering support of the rural communities in our mountain home.







  The McClure Fund