Helping those in need in Avery County, N.C.

Community Stories

The High Country Charitable Foundation awards grants to organizations making a difference in the Avery County community. Here are some of their success stories.

Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center: “Changing Lives One Child at a Time”

Animals have always held a special bond with their human counterparts. Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center is a testament of the power of that connection. The Riding Center is a haven of hope where children with special needs find solace, joy, and a chance to thrive with the assistance of a few very gifted horses, a team of volunteers and instructors. Spirit Ride has continued to serve the community and their life’s mission has left an indelible mark with Avery County and surrounding areas. Much of their success and ability to continue is in part due to the donations of the High Country Charitable Foundation.

Spirit Ride was founded by Patty Adams and her husband Craig in 2014. A culmination of determination, hard work, the support of friends, the community and passion to help children; Spirit Ride has assisted over one hundred families in providing the resources and paths to help their child thrive in ways they never dreamed possible. The Adam’s have provided a healthy and loving atmosphere for horses who otherwise may not have had such an opportunity providing them an opportunity to forge bonds that only their healing spirit can do.

At Spirit Ride, horses are more than just animals; they become companions and therapists for the children who visit. Through therapeutic riding sessions, these remarkable creatures help children with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities improve their balance, coordination, and self-confidence.

The transformative power of horseback riding cannot be understated. As children mount their equine friends, they embark on a journey of discovery and growth. The rhythmic motion of the horse’s gait stimulates the children’s muscles, promoting strength and coordination. Moreover, the bond that develops between the child and the horse fosters trust and emotional connection, providing a safe space for healing and growth.

The dedicated team at Spirit Ride is comprised of trained therapists, instructors, and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure that each child receives individualized attention and care. Each rider participates in a private lesson specifically designed to meet that child’s unique needs and abilities. They create a nurturing environment where children can learn, explore, and overcome their limitations. With patience and understanding, these professionals guide the children through a range of activities that not only improve physical abilities but also enhance cognitive skills and social interaction. These goals are monitored closely by the instructor and continual contact is maintained with the child’s therapists, educators and parents/guardians.

The impact of Spirit Ride on the lives of the children they help is truly remarkable. Patty along with her team both human and equine provide a safe and loving environment. For every child who walks through Spirit Ride’s doors, there is a story of triumph and resilience waiting to be written.

But the impact extends beyond the children themselves. Families find solace and support at Spirit Ride, as they witness their children’s growth and development. The Spirit Ride community becomes a second family, providing a network of encouragement and understanding.

Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center embodies the very essence of hope. They symbolize what is possible with the support of the community through their dedication and passion, they are changing lives one child at a time. They remind us that with love, compassion, and the power of a horse’s gentle spirit, anything is possible.

To find out more about Spirit Ride visit their website:

A Heartwarming Story: How your donations help

In a world that often rushes by, it’s crucial to remember that acts of kindness can truly make a difference in someone’s life. Today, High Country Charitable Foundation would like to share an inspiring tale about an elderly woman whose spirit is nourished through the support of Reaching Avery Ministry (RAM).

Reaching Avery Ministry is an organization that has been in existence since 1982. RAM provides assistance with food, clothing, heating fuel, utilities, prescription medicines/medical expenses, household necessities, furniture, emergency shelter, and other services to help meet a person’s needs. The organization works closely with the Avery County Department of Social Services, Avery County Schools, Avery County Health Department, and other agencies to ensure the critical needs of the county’s children, elderly, and disabled are met. RAM is the only full-time emergency assistance agency in existence in Avery County. RAM has received grants throughout the years from High Country Charitable Foundation. These grants help RAM to provide the essential services they need to help their community.

Meet Mrs. Johnson (not her real name), a resilient soul who has weathered the storms of life with unwavering determination. Living on a fixed income, Mrs. Johnson has faced the challenge of stretching her resources to meet her basic needs. Sometimes that can mean a choice between eating or providing fuel for heating her home.

Mrs. Johnson was a proud and kind woman. Accepting “charity” is not easy for people who are used to being on their own, but then there comes a time they just can’t physically or financially meet their most basic needs. Mrs. Johnson was able to find RAM through attending their yearly Thanksgiving meal.

Mrs. Johnson would come to share the food and support with others who helped to celebrate the meal. Volunteers and staff got to know Mrs. Johnson and she was always welcomed with open arms filled with genuine kindness and concern for her struggles. The volunteers took the time to listen to Mrs. Johnson’s stories, offering a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. This heartwarming connection enabled RAM to understand her needs. With the winter weather fast approaching, it soon became apparent to staff that Mrs. Johnson would not be able to fill her kerosene tanks to provide heat that she desperately needed. RAM stepped in to help, paying the gas company to have her tank filled.

Through continued conversations staff began to notice that Mrs. Johnson was not doing well. Her advancing age brought many health concerns both physically and mentally. Then when Mrs. Johnson found it difficult to eat and could no longer visit the RAM pantry, they found another way. Warm meals from a local grocery store food bar were brought to her. Mrs. Johnson’s health continued to decline. Staff and volunteers urged her to visit a doctor. Mrs. Johnson was hard to convince. Not only was there a concern for the cost of medical treatment but she worried about her beloved companion Gilbert the cat. Finally, RAM was able to find boarding for dear Gilbert so Mrs. Johnson could receive medical care. Unfortunately, Mrs. Johnson’s illnesses were grave. Her family were contacted. Mrs. Johnson was able to reunite with her children and have loved ones around her, so she was not alone when she succumbed to her illness.

Her family was grateful for RAM’s compassion and care that they gave to their mother. Even today the staff receive updates from her family, many times sharing stories about Gilbert the cat’s adventures as he enjoys his new loving home.

Mrs. Johnson’s story serves as a powerful reminder that it is within our collective power to make a difference. It takes a community to come together, not just one person or organization. With organizations like RAM, Avery County can help to build a stronger community.

This is why your support for HCCF is so vital. Help us to help those in need.

The Avery County Humane Society recently (in 2020) placed a rescue dog named “Tank” with an organization in Illinois that, after hearing his story, fell in love with him. The co-director of the rescue is going to foster Thank for at least six months and have a trainer work with him during this time. Then she will either decide to keep Tank or the organization will try to find the right home to adopt him. “Our staff has done an amazing job with Tank and we will all be keeping him in our hearts and prayers hoping that his new home is the chance at life that he so deserves,” said Gwynne Dwyer, Executive Director of Avery County Human Society.

Watch a Short Video of Tank

Yellow Mountain Enterprises is an HCCF grant recipient. The 2015 grant award helped them to purchase a new van. Their old van had more than 289,000 miles on it!  Yellow Mountain Enterprises is an adult day vocational program and operates under the umbrella of Avery Association for Exceptional Citizens. AAEC is a 501-C3 Non-profit organization for developmentally disabled adults. AAEC also operates the Avery County Group Home, an adult supervised living facility.

IMG_3159Avery High Key Club officers Veronica Clark (left) Alexis Hayes (middle) Allison Gregory (right) spent all of December 12th filling “Operation Christmas Child” shoeboxes with small Christmas gifts for needy children throught the world.  The High Country Charitable Foundation awarded a 2015 grant for “enhanced leadership skills” to help these student leaders grow and develop.

Humane Society picHarris give ACHS new leash

By Garrett Price, Avery Journal (photo credit: Garrett Price)

“There is something missing at Avery County Humane Society. It takes a minute to place it. The shelter is full of dogs and cats and even a pair of rabbits, all of that is in order. It’s the smell, or rather, the lack of one. If anything, there is vaguely pleasant aroma that settles over a tour of the shelter. For new ACHS Executive Director Susan Harris and shelter manager Charlene Calhoun, that is a point of pride.” (read the entire article here)

Feeding Avery Families article photo“Feeding families is what we do…”
By Garrett Price, Avery Journal

“John Cox bounds around Feeding Avery Family‘s downtown Newland office shaking hands and making small talk. He is excited, and he has good reason to be. The nonprofit recently was the recipient of a large grant from Food Lion to the tune of $4,000, in addition to $4,000 in food donations.” (read the entire article here)

DSCN3673John Cox, President of Feeding Avery Families, and Reagan Dellinger, Avery High Key Club member, join forces on September 12, 2015 for the Empty Bowls event in Banner Elk. As a fundraising event, Empty Bowls symbolically helps fill empty bowls for the hungry in Avery County. Participants purchase handmade clay bowls and dine on donated soups made by members of local churches. Both Feeding Avery Families and the Avery High Key Club were granted 2015 awards by the High Country Charitable Foundation.

Key club from web site-page-001
Celebrating the Avery High Key Club
by Gene Ormond and Jim Swinkola / Avery Journal

“In the heart of Avery County, a group of adolescents is joining hands to make the community a better place. Last year, more than 4,000 volunteer hours enhanced local gatherings, festivals and events. In addition to “giving,” members of this group benefit from “getting.” The getting comes in the form of leadership development. Each meeting starts with a pledge: ”I pledge to build my home, school and community; to serve my nation and God; and to combat all forces which tend to undermine these institutions.” (Read the whole story here)

Read more about the Avery High Key Club below (and here).

AHS Award Winning Key Club

2015 AHS Key Club Conference Reps

Why We Do What We Do

Watch our new video about the mission and purpose of the High Country Charitable Foundation.

Learn More


The goal of the Foundation is to support local Avery County charitable services.


View Grants

Annual Dinner Dance Fundraiser

The High Country Charitable Foundation holds an annual fundraising event in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Stay tuned for information regarding the 2024 Event.

Learn More

Connect on Facebook

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

Visit Facebook