With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Circles of Jackson County wishes to express our thankfulness for so many who have supported us for these seven years and made this program possible.

In Circles our goal is to reach out to those struggling to get out of poverty. Through love, support and education we have reached many and watched with joy as they got good jobs and safe housing for themselves and their family. As we cheered them on, they returned to Circles to become Allies and have worked to help many others pull themselves out of poverty. It is to all who have made Circles possible through their donations, work as volunteers or Allies, by providing meals, or serving in dozens of other ways that we wish to express our deep appreciation.

We want to thank the churches who have provided us the space to work: Sylva First Baptist, Cullowhee Methodist, Loves Chapel and Lifeway. We so appreciate the many churches, groups, or individuals that provide us with meals, or, who during the pandemic have given us money for our meals every Tuesday. These are: Locust Fields, St. Mary’s Catholic, Ochre Hill, Julie’s Bible Study, First Presbyterian, St. Johns, St. David’s Episcopal, Cullowhee United Methodist, Sylva United Methodist, East Sylva, Little Savannah, The Summit, The Hub, Kim Maynor, Ruth McConnell and Wayne Bost. We also wish to thank Sylva First Baptist, First United Methodist, Sylva Church of Christ, First Presbyterian, Cashiers United Methodist and Webster United Methodist, which includes Circles in their yearly budget.

We are so thankful for all our 60-plus volunteers who serve in so many ways; working in the kitchen, providing child care, serving as Allies, fundraising, speaking before groups, and the list goes on and on. And we are so blessed to have teachers from Western Carolina University, Southwestern Community College, the Jackson County Library, Jackson County Public Schools and our wonderful weekly teachers, Sheri Turk, Kayla Loftis, Sierra Womack and Patricia Padgett Jones.

We also want to thank the other nonprofits in our community whose leaders speak to our classes and readily share information with us. We cannot forget the amazing Rolling Start Car Club that has provided the much-needed transportation for six Circle Leaders. We are blessed to have the support of local food banks, civic clubs, community health services and The Sylva Herald.

We are so grateful to the organizations that have awarded us grant monies: the Evergreen Foundation, the N.C. Community Foundation, the Jackson County Commissioners, the Great Smokies Health Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Dogwood Foundation, the Gilbert Fund, the N.C. Department of Commerce and the Balsam Mountain Preserve Foundation of Jackson County.

This year we established the Business-Corporate Donors Program with eight levels of giving that range from $50 at the Pearl Level to $1,500 at the Diamond Level. To be acknowledged in an article such as this requires giving at the Emerald Donor level. However, this year we are breaking the rules, so to speak, as we are grateful to all who gave to this program. Included are Appalachian Funeral Services, B&B Interiors, B.H. Graning, Hollifield Jewelers, Livingston’s Photos, Pavey Law Firm and Sassyfrass. We also want to thank Beth Loftquist who gives at the Diamond Level and those who faithfully give every month. And we want to thank all those who attended a delightful mini-fundraiser on an individual’s carport.

We are blessed to have a wonderful board that gives us its time and attention: Mary Anne Farrell (board chairperson), Deborah Harris (treasurer), Chelsea White-Hoglen (secretary), Dawn Neatherly, our (executive director), Blake Daniel, Craig Day, Kayla Loftis, Ann Melton and our newest member, WCU Chancellor Kelli Brown. Thanks to Sierra Womack, our client services coordinator who works daily with our Circle Leaders.

The saying that “it takes a village” is truly correct as Circles of Jackson County could not exist without the help of our entire community. We ask that you keep Circles in your thoughts and prayers and if you have not already joined us we encourage you to become a real part of this organization by sharing your time and talents. Our address is P.O. Box 501, Sylva and the phone number is 342-4627.

Ann Melton is founder, Circles of Jackson.