When Tropical Storm Fred wreaked havoc on so many of our communities, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) communities were ready to help their neighbors in need. Tammy Jackson, the EBCI Community Development Coordinator, contacted WNC Communities to let us know that the Cherokee Community Club Council wanted to donate $1000 to a Haywood County community that had experienced extensive damage. We had heard from Bethel Rural Community Organization (BRCO) that they had displaced families and individuals in Haywood County they were assisting. Knowing that BRCO was in the process of organizing volunteers to help, we suggested the donation go to them.
When Evelyn Coltman of BRCO’s Benevolence Committee found out, she said, “What a wonderful gesture of generosity and caring you and the Cherokee Community Club Council are extending to Haywood County communities that have suffered damage caused by Tropical Storm Fred.” She let us know that BRCO had set up a Flood Relief Fund as part of their Benevolence Committee. “All funds collected via the flood relief fund will go directly to individuals and families who have been displaced or suffered damages. Several of our members have also been involved on an ongoing basis with food, water, clothing, and shoe distribution as well as with clean-up efforts,” she said.
Upon hearing BRCO’s response, Roger Smoker, Chairman of the Cherokee Community Club Council responded, “‘Adadoligi’ is the Cherokee word for blessing. Our officers were blessing the communities of Haywood County with a gift. As we have been blessed, we wanted to bless them and help them in their time of need.”
And the need was truly great for the family in Cruso, North Carolina that BRCO ultimately helped with the donation. The flooding in their area was so severe that by the time they were evacuated by boat, their house was almost completely underwater.
We are grateful that our members are reaching out in whatever ways they can to support each other. Inspiring stories of mutual aid like these are what make our region resilient. At WNC Communities, we encourage sharing across our communities to strengthen Western North Carolina. If you have a powerful collaborative story about your community center helping another community, please share it with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.