Far Western North Carolina

Catholic Charities Far West Growing Opportunity Grants

Due Date September 1, 2018


Catholic Charities work out of Murphy, NC focuses its efforts in the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, and Swain counties working in partnership with other regional agencies and through a collaborative ecumenical approach to promote lasting, systemic change in western North Carolina.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte’s eighth Bishop Begley Conference on Appalachia (BBCA) was held on September 23, 2017 at Hayesville First United Methodist Church.  The conference brought together an ecumenical audience to address Food Insecurity in Far Western North Carolina through learning, prayer, and the distribution of small grants. Read the article on the conference that appeared in the October 13 edition of the Catholic News Herald.

At the BBCA, Catholic Charities Far West Growing Opportunities Grants totaling $16,000 were distributed to seven non-profits combating food insecurity in the four counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain.  Funded projects included: food pantries (3), community gardens (3), and a non-profit assisting individuals facing both low income and diabetes to receive health appropriate food assistance.  A list of grant recipients and the names of the funded projects are below.

2017 Catholic Charities Growing Opportunities Grant Recipients

Bryson City Food Pantry, Bryson City – “Family Food Security Swain 2017”
First Free Will Baptist Church, Hayesville – “Food Ministry Expansion Project”
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Hayesville – “God’s Little Gardens”
Living Waters Food Pantry, Cherokee – “Living Waters Food Pantry”
Restoration House-WNC, Bryson City – “Restoration House Community Garden”
Still Water Landing, Hickory Stand UMC, Brasstown – “Waste No Want Not”
Swain County Caring Corner, Byson City – “Holistic Care Program for Diabetic Patients”

Eighteen Years of CCDOC Growing Opportunity Grants

The Growing Opportunity Small Grants Program assists the economic development activities of organizations that are committed to sustainable economic growth in western North Carolina. Since the fall of 2000, over $327,000 of CCDOC Growing Opportunities Grants have been dispersed to organizations working in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain Counties.  Grant monies come from an Economic Development Fund established by the Diocese of Charlotte after the sale of Good Shepherd Home Health Agency in Hayesville in the 1990s. The decision was made to target the proceeds of the sale in far western NC by having the return on the principal benefit the people and communities of far western NC region through an annual grant program.  In Memoriam…We remember in prayer and gratitude Sister Loretto John Meehan, S.C. who died this past June 5, 2017 in New York City. Thirty years of her religious life were in ministry as a nurse in Hayesville at Glenmary Nursing Home and at Good Shepherd Home Heath Agency.  The bridge linking Cherokee and Clay Counties is named in her honor.  Thanks to the dedicated work of Sister Meehan and others, Good Shepherd Home Health Agency thrived, and when sold, enabled a substantial sum of money to be available for the Economic Development Fund.

Family Strengthening

Through the Far-West Families First Program, Catholic Charities Faith Community Coordinator builds collaborations between faith communities, social services departments, and families who are seeking to improve their lives in spite of distressed economic conditions.  Catholic Charities also offers counseling assistance for individuals and families facing challenges to their family strength and stability. Call 828-835-3535.


Catholic Charities presence in far western NC was initially called the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). It was established by the Diocese of Charlotte as a tangible response to the call to action of previous pastoral letters of US Bishops whose dioceses include the land of Appalachia. This program of Catholic Charities is located in the Bishop Begley Center for Economic Development in Murphy. The center is named for the first bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, Most Reverend Michael J. Begley, who in 1973 became president of the Catholic Committee on Appalachia (CCA). Under his guidance, in 1975 the CCA published “This Land is Home to Me” – a pastoral statement of solidarity with the poor and powerless in Appalachia.

In November 1997, the pastoral letter “Of One Heart and One Mind” was published. This pastoral letter by (then) Bishop G. Curlin of Charlotte and (then) Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of Raleigh discussed the disparities in economic opportunities within our state. In response to that letter, the Diocese of Charlotte commissioned the Faith in Action Institute of Greensboro to conduct a study of the needs and assets of the far western region of North Carolina. The Office of Economic Opportunity was founded in 1999 to implement the study’s recommendations for action.