By Sherrie Norris
Deep Gap Ruritan will celebrate is 30th anniversary with food, door prizes, games, a silent auction and much more on Sunday, July 24, from 2 – 4 p.m. at Deep Gap Fire Department.
The community is invited to attend the family-friendly event which marks an incredible milestone, said club President, Leslie Gentry.
“For 30 years, this club has done so much for the community of Deep Gap and we want to take this opportunity to welcome our friends and neighbors in for a time of fun and fellowship. We also want to give everyone a chance to learn more about Ruritan and why we do the things we do. If any individual, couple or business is interested in joining a dedicated community club, this would be the perfect time to inquire about membership.”
Special guests at the upcoming event, Gentry will include current Ruritan National President, Glen Broadwater, along with former President Calvin Shelton and current National Director Patsy Shelton. Other district cabinet representatives are expected to attend, as well as those from neighboring/ district clubs and recipients of the club’s assistance through the years, including scholarship winners.
It’s sure to be an enjoyable time, Gentry said. “We will be presenting a brief history of the club, and will hear from our national leaders, from those who have experienced Ruritan on a personal level and from one of our business sponsors. We will also be recognizing our charter members, several of whom are still actively involved in the club, and our youth members who are the future of Ruritan.”
A full slate of activities is planned, with a great selection of door prizes, silent auction items and goody bags. Winners of door prizes must be present to claim their prize. Refreshments will be served, compliments of club members.
On behalf of Deep Gap Ruritan, Gentry expresses appreciation to Tractor Supply for allowing the club to set up a booth on site during the two Saturdays leading up to the event as a way to promote the organization and its celebration. Also, to the Deep Gap Fire Department for use of space, parking and assistance with logistics, etc.
Deep Gap Ruritan Known for Community Service
With the pandemic forcing changes in how most local nonprofits and community service agency operate in the last two years-plus, the heart of Deep Gap Ruritan has remained strong.
Efforts to support community needs have continued, even when fundraising was at an all-time low.
To date, Deep Gap Ruritan has reached its $297,000 level of giving to a number of causes. They include: helping individuals and families with medical expenses/related travel needs, heating fuel/utilities, home and auto repairs, clothing, funeral expenses/memorials, house fire recovery, scholarships, needs at Parkway School and even to other nonprofit organizations and events including: Hunger and Health Coalition, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownie Scouts, Senior Companion Program, Relay for Life, Deep Gap Fire Department, American Red Cross, American Legion, American Veterans Association/Memorial Fund, Samaritan’s Purse, Mountain Care Rest Home, Operation We Can, Santa’s Toy Box, Hospitality House, Project Graduation, High Country Caregiver Foundation and Watauga Medical Center.
It was the club’s hope, this year, to bring back its annual fundraising steak dinner, which has been vital to the club’s success for many years. However, due to ongoing safety concerns, rising food and supply costs, the club decided to put the event on hold, once again. In the meantime, other smaller fundraisers, including raffles and a pinto bean supper, have helped keep the club afloat.
“Without the community’s help, we cannot, in turn, help others who need us year-round,” Gentry added
“Over the past 30 years, as our club has put nearly $300,000 back into the community, approximately $55,000 was in scholarships to help local high school graduates with their college education.”
The club is “outstanding,” Gentry described, as he talks about how it has been recognized on regional, state and national levels through the years.
Currently with about 40 members — “with continued growth and always room for more,” Gentry said, Deep Gap Ruritan has been leading the district membership for four years. “This club is made up of some wonderful people who are always willing to go the extra mile to help others. That’s what Ruritan is all about. Our members are always trying to find way to improve our community through a wide range of service acts, from helping financially, to picking up trash on the roadsides and everything in between. We’re all volunteers, nobody gets anything in return, except for the satisfaction of helping others.”
Deep Gap Ruritan was recognized in late 2021, as it has been for several years, by Western North Carolina Communities in Asheville. The financial award the club receives always comes in the late fall, and was used to purchase Christmas gifts for five students at Parkway School.
Current leadership of the Deep Gap club includes Leslie Gentry, president; Jeff Stewart, vice-president, Gretchen Baldwin, treasurer, Kathy Idol, secretary, and board members Bencita Brooks, Loretta Gentry and Marie Greene.
“We are very proud of Deep Gap Ruritan and all it has done and continues to do,” Gentry surmised. “But without the community and the support we receive from local sponsors and donations, we could not do what we do. We appreciate all the help that we receive, so that we can, in turn, help others.”
About the anniversary event, Gentry adds, “I think this will be the largest celebration that Deep Gap Rutian has ever had. Ruritan has always been the best kept secret in town, but after this , Deep Gap can’t say that anymore. It taken a lot of planning and hard work for something of this magnitude, especially on the part of our planning committee, led by past President, Billie Rogers. We thank them and welcome everyone to join us for this special occasion.”
Deep Gap Fire Department is located at 6583 Old US 421 S, Deep Gap.