By Meg Dickens
The nonprofit organization Women of Mountain City continues to grow and foster growth in young women by reaching across county borders to bring opportunities to women in the Johnson County area. President and Founder Olivia Stelter explained what the future holds for Women of MC and its newest offshoot Girls of MC.
Women of MC revolves around improving the community and lessening need in the area. According to Stelter, Johnson County is going through a rough time, but “people have trouble admitting they have a problem.” Women of MC offers protections for those who seek help. For example, volunteers helping with Thanksgiving deliveries must sign an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) to keep participants’ identities protected.
“I’m done seeing people suffer,” Stelter said. “Not everyone sees the suffering until we shine a light on it. We are successful because we shine the light.”
This November, volunteers are bringing Thanksgiving amenities to participants’ doors. Through donations and partnerships with Hometown Discount Grocery and Old Mill Ministries, Women of MC will provide 275 Thanksgiving dinner boxes. Stelter called out a specific donor for donating 250 hams and pumpkin pies, which made the “quality of the boxes go up.” Volunteers are still needed and must be at least 18 years old.
One issue many locals, politicians, and officials mention consistently is the lack of activities for younger people in Johnson County. Many point out the possible link between this and rising drug use reports. A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition shared EMT data (Evaluation Management Training) from 2015 to 2019 during a County Commission meeting earlier this year that shows that Johnson County students are having their first contact with drugs or alcohol younger than the regional average.
“When do we decide enough is enough?” Stelter exclaimed. “When do we stop talking about the problem and start fixing it? We’re going to help these girls.”
Women of MC members Mikayla Moody and Abby Self will run the new Girls of MC program starting in 2021 to help young girls in the area. Girls of MC pulls resources from the Carter County Drug Coalition, Elizabethton Parks and Recreation, and the Peak Mentorship Program. Girls will learn everything from life skills and fitness to professional development and mental health knowledge. Along with that, girls can get homework help.
Empowerment is paramount for all ages and stages of development. Stelter contacts willing women in different situations and walks of life to share their stories through online vlogs on the organization’s Facebook page. Women of Mountain City will take it a step further in 2021 with curated empowerment talks. Locations will be announced at a later date.
Through a vlog livestream on Facebook, Stelter announced a new goal the organization is working towards. Women of Mountain City plans to open a facility that mirrors Carter County’s The River. The Pod, Johnson County’s version, will be a safe space for women to come and learn. Stelter hopes to include washing machines and possibly showers for those in need.
For more information or to volunteer, visit womenofmountaincity.com or the Women of MC Facebook page.