WIOA Success

Written by June Crawford, WIOA Participant

In July of 2013 my husband and I found ourselves having to make one of the hardest decisions we had faced. Our family business had recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It had been started by my Dad and Grandpa and had become my husband’s and mine nine years earlier. Now due to the economy and my husband’s health we had to make the decision to close the store. This is when I found myself having to look at other career options.

I walked into the NC Works office hoping to find help with unemployment, having no idea what to expect and feeling hopeless. What I found were people who cared and had answers for my dilemma. I was introduced to several programs that could assist me, from creating a resumé to how to pay my home mortgage. The WIOA program assisted me in finding what career opportunities could open for me and to find what my new interests might be. They helped me to see that a woman who has assisted her husband in the family business and aided her children to choose the colleges that best fit their dreams, can also start a new path of her own. I found it is not to late begin again.

I was enrolled in Southwestern Community College for the Human Services degree. The classes were interesting but sometimes hard. There were times I wanted to “throw in the towel” so I would call Susan, my WIOA advisor and she would assure me I could do it. It was weeks and months of that assurance that kept me going. Not only that, but the WIOA program had my back when it came to purchasing my books and helping me to choose the right supplies. They assisted me to remember to keep my car in good running order and aided in choosing the proper attire for interviews.

On May 10, 2016 after English, math, psychology, public speaking, and many human service classes, I graduated! I not only graduated, but I graduated with honors, Magna Cum Laude. I have been inducted into the National Technical Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi). I was asked to give the student perspective speech at the Human Service pinning ceremony alongside my instructor Sarah Altman and before my peers, dean, and family. I also took extra classes so I graduated with my Human Service degree and certificate in substance abuse. I did an internship with Project Challenge, which allowed me to network with several organizations in the seven western counties of North Carolina.

After the many opportunities granted me, through the encouragement and guidance of the WIOA program and advisor, Susan Waldorf, I finished the program and landed an interview with Children’s Hope Alliance, Hawthorn Heights emergency youth shelter. I was in my last weeks of school, preparing for finals, trying to get in all my hours of internship, and taking care of my family when I was called for the interview that many students dream about. It was full time, salary, day work, within the field of study I had been preparing for. I was chosen for the job and was to begin after graduation! As I walked to get my diploma (wearing the cap and gown the WIOA program purchased for me) I knew through hard work and encouragement I had reached my goal. I had made new friends, fulfilled the demands of SCC, and landed a wonderful job all because I walked into Susan’s office. I began my journey feeling hopeless, with no clue what I should do with my future and was presented the opportunity to further my education. Thus my journey continues with hope for the future and for my family.

Stakeholders Forum Represents You in National Forest Plans Revision

Recreation groups, hunters and anglers, local forest products businesses, and advocates for wildlife and wilderness have reached a major milestone in their efforts to help the U.S. Forest Service develop a new management plan for the over 1 million acres of mountain forest in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

They are members of the Stakeholder’s Forum (Forum) offering input to the Forest Service as they revise the management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in a process that requires public input. The Forum has been working diligently together over the past two and a half years to represent the public, understand each other’s perspectives, and build agreement around recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service for how the National Forests will be managed for the next 10 – 15 years. The Forum consists of members from organizations representing wildlife advocates, local forest products companies, wilderness advocates, NC state agencies, environmental advocates and recreationists (hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, hunting, climbing, fishing). The Forum is facilitated by the National Forest Foundation via funding through the U.S. Forest Service.

This month, the Forum submitted a collection of proposals to the Forest Service identifying areas of agreement. While different topics received varying levels of consensus, Forum members all signaled a willingness to build from the areas of strongest agreement and work as ambassadors for each other’s interests. The Forum believes that if the new management plan is going to meet its goals–to provide clean & abundant water, restore resiliency to the forest, and connect people to the land–it will need the support of everyone involved.

There are many passionate interests in our Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. The Forum is made up of representatives from many interest groups – AND, they cover MANY sides of the issues. There have been some spirited debates, and we have not had unanimous agreement on all proposals to the Forest Service, but we can still work together on the items where we do agree. The Stakeholders Forum’s proposals reflect diverse interests, but the final National Forests plan decision will be made by the Forest Service after they consider all the input from the public, including the Forum and other groups.

The Forum asks you to consider that we are dealing with over 1 million acres of mountain forests, to keep an open mind, to consider other needs and interests, and to consider that the long term health of our forests and the communities around them depends on protection, restoration, and sustainable use of forest resources. Restoration will be a focus of the new plan, which will involve cutting trees in some areas and allowing natural processes to dominate in other areas.

The Forum asks you to stay informed, understand the needs and understand all sides of the issues. This fall, the U.S. Forest Service will take all the input from the Forum, the public, the counties and from the best science available to create a range of alternatives that will represent the possible approaches to managing the land. This winter, the Forest Service Plan Revision Team will complete an environmental analysis that compares and contrasts the effects of the proposed alternatives on resources such as wildlife habitat, recreation, soils, timber, rare habitats, wilderness, and water quality. The analysis will be released in the spring or summer of 2018 as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on these alternatives when the DEIS is released.

About the Stakeholders Forum for the Nantahala & Pisgah Plan Revision: The Stakeholders Forum’s purpose is to support a collaborative dialogue amongst stakeholders representing diverse interests and identify zones of agreement to form recommendations around critical resource issues related to the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests’ plan revision. The group is facilitated by the National Forest Foundation. For more information about who serves on the Stakeholders Forum and background documents, please visit: www.nationalforests.org/stakeholdersforum.

Broadband Survey is Open!

The Southwestern Commission, in conjunction with MountainWest Partnership, is asking local citizens and businesses to participate in a broadband assessment for the region (CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE SURVEY).

This survey will verify availability of services in our counties, identify actual speeds available, and collect information on demand for services from respondents. While some counties have conducted individual broadband surveys already, this regional effort gives all counties the chance to participate. We hope residents in all seven counties will participate in this effort so the entire region will have uniform data. Data from the county-specific demand surveys (such as Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain) will still be considered in our overall broadband planning.

Initial data collected will provide valuable information to the Southwestern Commission and MountainWest Partnership, as well as state and local partners working towards broadband and Economic Development planning for the region. Anonymized data may be shared with broadband providers or planning partners with the goal of improving Internet services throughout the region.

The Southwestern Commission is one of the 16 regional councils of government for North Carolina and represents Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. MountainWest Partnership is the Economic Development Partnership for the seven counties in the southwestern region and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

For questions on the survey, please contact Sarah Thompson at sarah@regiona.org.

Survey Link

New NC Mayors Association

From Mayor Bob Scott, Vice-Chair of the Association

By now, you are probably aware that mayors from around the state have come togheter to create an association open to all of the state mayors to further the interests of our cities and towns, and to serve as a platform for all to learn from one another. One asset we will have is to work with new mayors and to mentor them if they need advice or information.

The Association has approved its by laws and a constituency agreement with the NCLM, and in so organizing as an affiliate, we have positioned the group to be an effective force moving forward. There is an 11-member Board of Directors. The Chairman of the group is Vivian Jones, Mayor of Wake Forest, and I serve as the Vice-Chair.

We currently have about 50 members and a dues structure. Costs are minimal as we have a promotional rate until October 31. For populations up to 1,000 residents, the fee is $75, population of 1001 to 5,000 is $150, and population of 5,001 to 25,000 is $225. Over 25,000 is $300.

We also have a logo, which was chosen unanimously at the Association’s first meeting in Greenville at the Leagues’ annual conference. Now that we are organized and recognized, I want to urge all mayors to join us in this new association. Through the Association, I feel we will be able to work together to address the goals and challenges of municipalities.

The recent Region A Mayors Association had a great dinner in Franklin and one-on-one talk with Dr. Todd Colls about what the Western Carolina University Public Policy Institute has to offer towns and counties. I believe we will be going back to a noon meeting and Franklin will again host these meetings at the town hall; although if any other towns are interested in hosting, please let us know!

Energy-Saving Program for Robbinsville Community

Duke Energy brings a free energy-saving program to the Robbinsville community.  This program will make more than 1,200 households in Robbinsville eligible for Duke Energy’s Neighborhood Energy Saver Program.

Those who qualify for this program in Robbinsville and surrounding areas could receive up to 16 energy-saving improvements, which could save to up to $95 a year in energy costs.  These improvements are at no out-of-pocket cost.

Read more about the Duke Energy Saving Program.

Dementia Friends USA

The work of the Area Agency on Aging encompasses various topics that affect our older adults and their caregivers.  One area that has been a focus of the AAA has been dementia sensitivity training, primarily offered for those who provide care for older adults who might be suffering from dementia, including family members and extending all the way to Emergency Medial Services personnel.

Along the same line as the work of the AAA, a group called Dementia Friends USA has started a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.  The Dementia Friends initiative is helping to make a difference for people touched by dementia by helping everyone in a community understand what dementia is and what effects it can have on a person.

To read more about this initiative, please visit the Dementia Friends USA website, and be sure to watch the video to learn more about this important work and what we can all do in our own communities to help those who are living with dementia.  And feel free to contact the Area Agency on Aging to learn how you can get involved as well!

Cindalynn’s Success Story

Cindalynn Hatton was enrolled as a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth program participant at the Haywood Community Learning Center (HCLC) in Waynesville, NC. The Center is not a school but an alternative out of school program with a focus on WIA case management of the participants. The Center is partially supported through WIA funding provided by the Southwestern Commission’s Southwestern Workforce Development Board.

Cindalynn had a baby as a teen, and she was receiving no guidance or assistance from anyone. When her baby was six-months-old, she dropped out of the Haywood Early College program in order to work full-time to support her family. At that time, she met with the staff of the HCLC, who enrolled her in WIA case management. There, her basic and educational needs were assessed, and she was able to attend classes on a flexible schedule that was customized for her busy schedule. Cindalynn graduated from the learning center in June 2012, and she later graduated from Haywood Community College in in May 2015. This May, she will be graduating from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. She was accepted to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where she plans to continue her education and eventually become a pharmacist.

The success of the Center is related to the availability of wrap-around services provided through many partners (faith-based, CBO, school systems, WIA, etc.,) and the flexibility and access to academic learning. The program is customized to each student and his or her barriers, rather than forcing the student to customize their schedule to the program. This increases the chances of the student successfully completing the program with a high school diploma and then continuing their education, entering the military, or gaining employment. This story is an excellent reminder that when you match the right person with the right program and staff, anything is possible.

For more information on Cindalynn’s story and the HCLC, click here to read the article in The Mountaineer.

Upcoming Community Workshop

Registration is open for the May 18 learning workshop led by Dr. Vaughn Grisham.  Dr. Grisham is a leading community development expert who has done work in more than 30 states and two Canadian provinces.  The workshop is scheduled from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Hinton Center in Hayesville, NC.

This workshop will be a tremendous opportunity for community leaders in Region A to learn from a renown expert who has helped small communities accomplish amazing things!  Registration for this event is $10, and lunch is provided!

Click here to register for this workshop.