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RAM Celebrates 50 Years of Helping and Serving Watauga County With Banquet This Saturday

By Nathan Ham

Across Watauga County, you will find a whole lot of people that have been helped in some way by Resort Area Ministries.

RAM is celebrating 50 years of service to Watauga County with a special banquet this Saturday at First Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m.

Former workers, volunteers, board members and those who have been helped by RAM will be there to share their stories of the impact that RAM has had on their lives.

RAM dates back to 1968 when the organization started as a way to minister to students and tourists, particularly at ski resorts across the High Country.

“We would have worship services with chaplains at ski slopes during the winter, and during the summer we would have ministries with students and campground ministries,” said Mary Silver, the Missions Director for RAM.

Volunteers did all of the ministry work until the late 1970s when RAM simply grew so big that the all-volunteer group could not handle it all. That was when RAM selected Tom Moore as the first director and chaplain for Resort Area Ministries. Moore held that position until 2011 when he had to retire due to illness after being diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Moore passed away on January 13 of this year.

RAM continued with ministries at the ski slopes until the program was phased out in the early 2000s after volunteer numbers dropped and interest seemed to wane.

One thing that has stood the test of time so far is RAM’s Rack Thrift Shop located at 877 W. King Street in downtown Boone. RAM’s Rack first opened in 1980.

“The thrift shop is one of our main financial sources and is a service for those in need. We give clothes to those in need at no charge and basic household furnishings at no charge,” Silver said.

According to Silver, RAM’s Rack helped 625 individuals at no charge during 2017.

RAM still has plenty of volunteer work that they do during the year. Summer ministries take place from mid-May through the beginning of October at Linville Land Harbor and from June through Labor Day at the Appalachian KOA Campground.

Volunteers from in and around the High Country as well as mission groups that travel to Boone spend most of the summer working on several different house projects that people in need in Watauga County simply cannot afford to fix.

Silver says that volunteers have done everything from put roofs on houses to building porches, installing windows and doors, painting and even mowing and weedeating lawns.

These services are designed to help single-income homes and elderly people who worry about how they’re going to pay bills, buy groceries, buy their medicine and fix what is wrong with their house.

Unlike some organizations where you might not know where donations and money will go, RAM vows to keep all donations and money spent at RAM’s Rack right here in the High Country.

“RAM is a local grassroots organization started right here in the county, all the money from RAM’s Rack stays up here and does not go off the mountain to big corporations,” said Silver.

So far this year, Silver says they have roofed two houses with an all-volunteer work force.

“We have two full-time and seven part-time employees at the thrift shop, but we depend so much on volunteer help at the shop and all the projects we do are all volunteers,” she said.

Silver has been part of Resort Area Ministries for 32 years.

“We want to thank everybody for what they do to help the ministry, volunteering their time or with their financial support,” Silver said.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with RAM, stop by the shop at 877 W. King Street in downtown Boone or call Mary Silver at 828-264-6605.

Photos below are a look at some of the projects that RAM has been working on this year.