Members of the Watauga Watershed Alliance (WWA) present a check to Women of MC representatives to aid in free health care opportunities for local women. Left to right: WWA Chairman Bob Carlough, WWA Treasurer Cindy Johnson, Women of MC Operations Manager Hannah Dunn, Women of MC Grassroots Specialist Ellen Watkins. Photo by Meg Dickens.
By Meg Dickens
Johnson County citizens came together on Friday, April 24, to help each other help others. Members of the Watauga Watershed Alliance (WWA) presented a $10,000 check to Women of Mountain City members to help fund the annual Women’s Health Fair set for June 24 and June 25. According to WWA member Linda Carlough, the anonymous donor was a WWA supporter that took a lifelong interest in advancing women’s lives in Johnson County. He is no longer around, but the donation was to honor his wishes.
“We’re not aware of it,” WWA Chairman Bob Carlough told Women of MC Grassroots Specialist Ellen Watkins and Operations Manager Hannah Dunn.” We’re back in the hollow, so we don’t interact with the city. I see my neighbors and some are in need of help. For you guys to be available and to provide that, I’m sure there are genres of people we’re not even aware of. We didn’t know about you, and what’s been going on here for years. We just started thinking, how can we help them? They’re really trying to help our community.”
These events not only encourage people to get the help they need but also inspire community and growth. According to Watkins, a portion of people who come for help return to volunteer. Additionally, those who come to work, such as dentists, often come back in their free time, boosting the local economy through cabin rentals, eating at restaurants, and local purchases.
The Women’s Health Fair is a collaborative effort with the Women of Mountain City, Ballad Health, East Tennessee State University, the Johnson County Health Department, and Appalachian Miles for Smiles. Adults in need will have access to dental, vision, and mammograms free of charge at First Baptist Church. The health department hopes to offer vaccinations as well.
“This effort is to bring access to health care our community members have struggled having access to, and help educate our community about the importance of taking care of yourselves and getting care,” said Women of MC Director Olivia Stelter. “We are humbled and so grateful for community members who believe in us and our efforts to make Mountain City a better place for all. Our little corner of the county is special and important, and our people need care. It’s because of people like this, we can make it happen.”
According to Watkins, this will bring in “more that $200,000 worth of free help just in health and vision.” More information on health opportunities will be available at Ralph Stout Park during the event. For more information, contact the Women of Mountain office at (423) 491-5048.