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High Country Caregivers: Helping To Carry the Load, Here’s How You Can Help

Part of the success of High Country Caregivers is helping local kinship caregivers and those in their care feel support through special events and opportunities.

If you are among the area’s growing number of relatives taking care of a loved one in your home, you need to know about High Country Caregivers.

HCC is a stand-alone not for profit organization dedicated to relatives caring for loved ones — whether as surrogate parents with younger children, or as direct caregivers for those with life-limiting illnesses and debilities.

Through a variety of programs, HCC comes alongside local families in need of respite and resources to help ease the heavy load they carry.

Helping to navigate the system— HCC points kinship caregivers to agencies available to help with legal, financial, emotional and physical challenges that can easily become overwhelming and frustrating for everyone involved.

As an example, HCC understands that grandparents, aunts and uncles often face unique challenges in unexpectedly having to parent someone else’s child. In fact, many grandparents are not prepared — financially, emotionally, physically and in some cases, mentally — for the added responsibilities required for their new role.

Many cannot afford the basic necessities that these children require, not to mention all the extras that most children desire (and need!), such as cell phones, laptops and more.

Currently, there are an estimated 8 million children in the US living with someone other than a parent; in North Carolina, about 225,493 children are being raised by their grandparents or other relatives. A large number of those children are here in the High Country.

Why should you get involved?

To care for others, It is necessary for caregivers to insure that their own physical, emotional and financial needs are met. Accepting help available through HCC allows them to do a better job.

Under the direction of an active and compassionate board of directors, the organization’s new Executive Director, Jacob Willis, and Program Director, Marty Wilson, are available to help kinship caregivers in and around the High Country.


Willis and Wilson were recently introduced at a midsummer fundraising event at Stonewalls In Banner Elk, while at the same time outgoing director, Brenda Reece, and program assistant, Sherrie Norris, were both honored for their years of dedication and commitment to the HCC.

As did Reece and Norris, Willis and Wilson continue to work closely with partnering agencies, organizations and individuals to help meet the needs of local family caregivers in the service area.

If you would like to help make life better for area caregivers, we invite you to join HCC by contributing to one of the following programs:

The Children’s Wish List

Created to help meet some of the unexpected needs the surrogate parents face on a regular basis, The Children’s Wish List is making dreams come true every day.

Thanks to the support of seasonal and fulltime residents, generous donations help with the purchase of clothing items, sports uniforms and equipment, school supplies, Christmas and birthday gifts, prom dresses and so much more. Opportunities have been provided that include attending and participating in various cultural arts events at Lees McRae College and Appalachian State University; registration fees have been paid for dance classes, martial arts instruction and school field trips, both far and near. And the “list” goes on.

Without the help of women like Joan Benbasat and Rebecca Scialpi, who created this outreach and continue to give of their time, talent and skills to help our families, The Children’s Wish List would not be fulfilled. We hope that you will join these women in their efforts to continue meeting the needs of the families we serve. In particular, there is currently a need for donations to help with gifts for the upcoming Christmas season.

Coach’s Kids

A new part of the HCC outreach is “Coach’s Kids” which provides summer camp opportunities for kinship caregivers and their children. This project is led by former Appalachian State Head football coach, and current HCC board member, Jerry Moore, who serves along with his wife, Margaret.

Because many kinship caregivers work full-time, there is a great need to keep the children in their care safe and engaged in summer activity while their caregivers are at work. 

Through this program, HCC provides scholarship opportunities for children to attend camps in throughout our service area of up to $350 per child.

Please consider partnering with us, and Coach Moore, to make an impact in the lives of children throughout the High Country.

Play Me a Memory

An early memory-loss group that meets on a weekly basis, this group focuses on the ongoing integration of physical, mental, creative and social activities of its clients. The program provides specific, structured activities that emphasize socialization, memory exercises, physical activity and cognitive stimulation.

Weekly sessions include the following:​

– Cognitive and mental fitness exercises

– Education related to memory and brain function

– Social interaction with peers that encourages participant input

– Physical activity and/or education on the benefits of physical activity and good nutrition

– Opportunities to learn memory enhancement techniques and strategies to live with memory loss

– Access to information about local resources and support services for individuals living with memory loss and their families

– Camaraderie and support from peers also living with memory loss

– Opportunities for creative expression


For more information:

If you and your family meet the criteria mentioned above and are interested in learning more about HCC, or if you would like to make a donation to help meet the needs of those involved, visit HighCountryCaregivers.com, call (828)-832-6366. Your tax-deductible donations may also be mailed directly to High Country Caregivers, POB 3356 Boone NC 28607.