Mountain Projects Health Insurance Counselor Helps Save a Life

Brenda and James Porcello live in Charlotte, but have family in Waynesville. James had a recent medical crisis, and despite a clean health history it became obvious he needed a liver transplant, fast. His life was in danger. Unfortunately, the Porcello’s insurance policy was unacceptable to the hospital that would perform the transplant. 

Jacquie Buttles knew just who to call. She’s an Insurance Analyst for the state of North Carolina, and she had become involved in the case. 

“Jan Plummer at Mountain Projects and I have been program partners for a decade,” Jacquie said. “I thought we should talk this case through to see what options were available for this patient.”

With their many years of combined experience, the two knew both client processes and large agency needs, and they put their heads together to carve out a complicated path forward. It worked: in September, James had a liver transplant at one of the few hospitals in North Carolina that does such procedures, and he came through with flying colors.

The insurance Jan and Jacquie arranged covered the costs of surgery, medications and recovery, and James’s strong family support system was ready to help him fight for his life. 

Jan and Jacquie know the intricacies of health insurance, and sometimes they have the opportunity to help save a life. “This story makes my heart sing,” says Jan, “we counselors know this work is important, but don’t always have such an amazing story to tell.”

MP Seeking to Replenish the Emergency Fund


Release date: December 3, 2022

Holiday Campaign to Replenish the Emergency Fund

WAYNESVILLE AND SYLVA – Through December, Mountain Projects is requesting community support to replenish its Emergency Fund. This fund assists vulnerable households with serious challenges like avoiding utility shut-off, making unexpected vehicle repairs and emergency shelter. The Emergency Fund is dedicated to supporting low-income households in Haywood and Jackson County who are ineligible for grant-funded programs. 

Executive Director Patsy Davis encourages the community to chip-in to protect our region’s most vulnerable. “Every contribution, every act of generosity is a blessing to a person in need,” she says. Mountain Projects receives an average of ten emergency requests per week. Davis said, “This week, we had a request from a family living out of their car. With emergency funds we were able to provide temporary housing while we find a longer term solution for their situation. The community helps us solve serious problems when they make donations.”

Founded in 1965, Mountain Projects was chartered as part of President Linden Johnson’s War on Poverty and currently serves more than 12,000 people each year. Ninety-seven percent of clients served by Mountain Projects are the working poor, disabled, elderly or handicapped. The organization employs 140 staff members and maintains offices in Sylva and Waynesville

As a Community Action Agency, Mountain Projects supports and implements programs designed to improve social, economic, educational, health, emotional and environmental aspects of life for families and individuals in the western mountain region. Those initiatives range from Head Start and food assistance to a variety of programs for senior citizens, and from public transportation to housing rehabilitation. 

For information and stories about Mountain Projects’ work in Haywood and Jackson Counties, visit and Mountain Projects’ Facebook page.

To donate, visit, call 828-452-1447 or send a contribution by mail to Mountain Projects, 2177 Asheville Road, Waynesville NC 28786.

Service Clubs Announce a New Approach to the Annual Haywood County Blanket Drive

Release date: 11/17/2022
Phone: (828) 452-1447

HAYWOOD COUNTY – Mountain Projects and Waynesville Rotary Club paired for many years to coordinate a popular Christmas holiday blanket drive.

Then, In 2021, Mountain Projects Executive Director, Patsy Davis contacted Bill Allsbrook of Waynesville Rotary and asked if their blanket drive could be moved to early November due to the rising heating and utility costs. Mountain Projects was already taking calls for assistance and were anticipating more.

To meet the need quickly, the two contacted seven Haywood County Service Clubs: Altrusa, Kiwanis, two Lions Clubs and three Rotary Clubs, who enthusiastically signed on to help. Then, as word got out in the community, the general public contributed and the effort brought in over 300 blankets and significant cash donations to help local families with heating and utility bills.

The Annual Haywood County Blanket Drive has evolved out of this success and in addition to ongoing Service Club efforts, all Haywood County residents are invited to participate. “We hope the community will join in. With the temperatures starting to dip and a 28% projected increase in heating and utility costs, we will need more blankets,” says Allsbrook.

“With increasing costs of basic needs, like groceries, particularly for ‘fixed-income’ seniors, we appreciate the help,” says Executive Director Patsy Davis, “Many senior households can’t afford their heating bills and Head Start families also need a helping hand.” The Blanket Drive and Winter Warmth campaign will be a significant component of Mountain Projects’ winter relief efforts.

New blankets can be dropped off at the Mountain Projects Office, 2177 Asheville Road, Waynesville (the old public health building roughly across the street from Junaluska Middle School) or online purchases can be shipped directly to the agency through December 23, 2022.

Mountain Projects

“Blanket Drive”

2177 Asheville Road

Waynesville, North Carolina 28786

Financial contributions towards winter heating bills can be made online at or checks can be sent by mail. Please annotate checks with “Winter Warmth.”

Inflation Reduction Act is good news for ACA Marketplace Health Insurance Consumers

New policies deliver lower prices for healthcare

The recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act is good news for senior citizens on Medicare and for consumers enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance through the Marketplace.

For people who have their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, the lower premium rates that were implemented during the COVID emergency will continue through 2025.  The new 100% – 150% Special Enrollment Period will also continue.  If you have never checked out your out of pocket costs for good health insurance through the Marketplace, now would be a good time to do so.  If you still need coverage for 2022, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that could get you coverage.

Beginning with the 2023 coverage year, seniors on Medicare can get vaccines with NO out of pocket costs to them.  Also the price of insulin is capped at $35/month beginning in 2023.  Medicare beneficiaries with Medicare Part D will have their out of pocket costs for their prescription drugs capped at $4000 or less per year in 2024 and at $2000 in 2025.  Knowing what the yearly maximum cost of your drugs will be extremely helpful for seniors on tight budgets.

Everyone who has Marketplace coverage, now and will need coverage in 2023, needs to renew their coverage during the upcoming Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment for the 2023 coverage year will start November 1, 2022 and be open through January 15, 2023.

There are free, experienced and certified, in-person coverage counselors available to help you understand the numerous health plans that are available. Coverage counselors can assist you with the application process.

Call 828-452-1447 for the name and number of a coverage counselor in your community. More information can be found at


PUBLIC NOTICE: Beginning Sept. 6, 2022, Mountain Projects, Inc., of Haywood County will begin taking applications for rental assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8 Program funded through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Online applications are now accepted. Households are encouraged to apply online by visiting: HTTPS://WWW.WAITLISTCHECK.COM/NC3130

Households that are unable to complete an online application may schedule an appointment by calling Mark Carden at 828-492-4103 or Samantha Ramsey at 828-492-4114 ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 6, 2022.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, or national origin.

Mountain Project’s Sylva Offices have Moved


After more than three decades at its office on Schulman St., Mountain Projects’ Sylva team has outgrown its space. The Sylva office has moved to 154-B Medical Park Loop, in part of the building once home to Meridian Health Services.

All Mountain Projects programs offered in Waynesville are also offered in Sylva, and coordinated by a staff of 15.

We owe a debt of gratitude to First Baptist Church of Sylva, NC which has leased us space at a gracious cost for many years, a has truly made our work part of its ministry.

To view a map to our Jackson or Haywood County locations, visit this page.

Back to School Tips for Kids & Parents


101 Back-to-School Tips for Kids and Parents

As summer comes to an end and back-to-school season begins, it can be hard to get back into a regular schedule – both for kids and adults.

The trick here is to plan ahead. Read through this list and identify some strategies that you think could help you and your family stay organized and on top of things. Then, test these different approaches as a family so you can figure out which ones work for you, and which ones don’t.

Finally, make sure that you include your entire child care crew in your plans, too. No matter whether you have a babysitter, a nanny, a tutor, or all of the above, they’ll be able to help you keep your kiddo on track for the first day of school. Plus, they’ll be able to take some tasks off of your plate – which means that you can enter the school year with a little more of your sanity intact.

  1. Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “School Time” two weeks before the first day.
  2. Get your kids involved in programs that they can do after school to keep them active.
  3. Visit cultural attractions like museums to shift their brains into “Scholar” mode.
  4. Hire an after-school sitter to help care for your kids while you’re at work.
  5. Encourage your kids to read at least one book before the school year begins.
  6. Reacquaint your kids with the calendar schedule they’ll use to manage their activities.
  7. Try apps like iHomework or MyHomeWork to help your kids organize assignments.
  8. Let kids choose a planner or scheduling tool that they’re excited to use.
  9. Set up weekly meetings to review your kids’ schedules for the week(s) ahead.
  10. Create a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
  11. Refresh your rules about screen time for the school What’s allowed and when?
  12. Establish a set “Family Time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  13. Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  14. Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  15. Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  16. Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  17. Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a short walk.
  18. Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  19. Discuss what your kids can expect on the first day so they feel more prepared.
  20. Visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environments.
  21. Arrange playdates with two or three of your kids’ friends to rebuild existing social ties.
  22. Ask teachers for class rosters so you can arrange playdates with new classmates too.
  23. Get the lists of school supplies, books and technology your kids will need.
  24. Inventory last year’s school supplies before going out to buy more.
  25. Include your kids in back-to-school shopping by letting them pick out their items.
  26. Make a plan for organizing those supplies – and keeping them that way.
  27. Create a dedicated space for your kids to store their school supplies and technology.
  28. Establish a specific space like the family office as the official “homework area.”
  29. Remove distractions like TVs and video game consoles from homework areas.
  30. Repurpose and relabel plastic tubs to organize all school supplies.
  31. Help your kids develop a filing system for organizing their documents for each class.
  32. Set – and enforce – regular weekday and weekend bedtimes. 
  33. Set – and enforce – regular weekday and weekend wake-up calls.
  34. Keep track of existing extracurricular activities to prevent over-scheduling.
  35. Have your kids set realistic goals for the new year, such as reading 30 books.
  36. Help your kids prioritize their activities by tying them to their year’s goals.
  37. Create a list of fun after-school activities and games to keep your kids entertained.
  38. Touch base with teachers early on to troubleshoot any issues your kids may be having. Here are 20 questions you can ask.
  39. Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.
  40. Establish regular bedtime routines for elementary school kids and pre-schoolers.
  41. Carve out blocks of fun time for your kids, whether it’s through sports or playdates.
  42. Hire a tutor, babysitter or homework helper to help you navigate homework time.
  43. Model good behavior by doing your own work/projects while your kids do homework.
  44. Encourage your kids to lay out their school clothes the night before.
  45. Use this printable checklist to establish a regular morning routine.
  46. Have your kids pack their school bags before they go to sleep that night.
  47. Have your kids also pack their gym bags the night before and leave them by the door.
  48. If your kids bring their own lunch, pack their lunch boxes before going to bed.
  49. Establish rules for where they should put lunchboxes, when they come home.
  50. Revamp your home organization setup to be more kid-friendly. For example, low hooks make it easy for younger children to hang up coats!
  51. Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  52. File or scan assignments that you want to keep.
  53. Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  54. Designate a plastic tub as a put-away bin for anything that’s out of its place.
  55. Set a time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  56. Inventory your kids’ wardrobes and toss/donate things they’ve outgrown.
  57. Create a list and budget for back-to-school shopping.
  58. Let your child choose their clothes, shoes and other items they’ll need.
  59. Go through their wardrobes every 2-3 months to get rid of things that no longer 60.Set up a laundry system that makes it easy to sort and wash everyone’s clothes.
  60. Make homework caddies that can be used to carry school supplies through the house.
  61. Buy bulk packaged snacks like bags of grapes that can be easily added to lunches.
  62. Discuss the different pros and cons of bringing versus buying school lunches.
  63. Get copies of school menus in advance to discuss lunch choices.
  64. Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus.
  65. Buy reusable sports bottles to increase their water consumption during the day.
  66. Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, just in case.
  67. Organize lunch ingredients in one part of the fridge so you can make fast lunches.
  68. Purchase lunch boxes or reusable bags to help save the environment.
  69. Make a week’s worth of sandwiches on Sunday, wrap in tinfoil, and unthaw them the night before.
  70. Use sticky notes to flag important items in kids’ that they should pay attention to.
  71. Plan supervised study dates when kids work together on projects or homework.
  72. Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus.
  73. Set your clocks forward 10 minutes.  This makes it easier to be on time.
  74. Schedule blocks of time to check in with each child to see how things are going.
  75. Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for “you time. “
  76. Create a rewards system for when they meet goals like helping around the house.
  77. Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Avoid the rush.
  78. Use positive phrasing, such as “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  79. Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works for them.
  80. Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  81. Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  82. Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who can’t get to sleep.
  83. Keep a single, easy-access file for vaccination records and other important papers.
  84. Set up the breakfast table before you go to bed.
  85. Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  86. Replace old backpacks with ones that are sturdy, ergonomic and kid-friendly.
  87. Keep a running list of supplies, clothing and food that need to be bought each week.
  88. Use a see-and-store toy rack to make it easier for kids to stay organized.
  89. Set up a hanging organizer with five boxes for clothes for each day of the week.
  90. Dedicate a rack in the garage, basement or entry way for sports equipment.
  91. Create a regular pet care schedule that outlines who does what and when.
  92. Schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  93. Use under-the-bed storage for off-season clothes and toys that aren’t regularly used.
  94. Give everyone a shower caddy to keep bathroom supplies organized.
  95. Have a playdate caddy ready to go, with an extra set of clothes, games and toys.
  96. Figure out different ways you can be involved in the classroom this school year.
  97. Talk openly with your kids about their feelings about returning to school.
  98. Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you!
  99. Take a breath!

With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work.

Provided by:

Davis Named President of of the North Carolina Community Action Association Board of Directors

Mountain Projects Executive Director Patsy Powell Davis was named President of the North Carolina Community Action Association Board of Directors on Friday, May 13, at the organization’s annual conference, held this year in Cherokee.

The North Carolina Community Action Association is an anti-poverty member organization that advocates on behalf of the needs of vulnerable families through its statewide network of 34 community action agencies (CAAs) serving all 100 counties. Member organizations work together to break cycles of poverty and to strengthen low-income families and communities.

Mountain Projects and the NCCAA were both formed in 1965, and have a long history of collaboration.

“I am profoundly honored to lead the NCCAA board for the next two years and to be joined by such a stellar group of advocates for North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations,” said Davis. “This board has very clear objectives. Like our predecessors, our goal is to continue to uphold the community action network’s high standards of enriching lives purposefully and intentionally through the collective work that we do.”

Community Action Agencies equip low-income citizens with the tools and potential for becoming self-sufficient. The structure of programming is unique: federal grant dollars are used locally to offer specialized programming in communities. It is a coordinated effort to address the root effects of poverty and, ultimately, to move families and individuals to self-sufficiency.

“NCCAA exists to uplift our state’s most vulnerable families,” said Executive Director Sharon C. Goodson. “We welcome these new board members, whose passions are deeply rooted in our statewide network’s anti-poverty mission of empowering low-income people to help themselves and each other while growing strong communities for all. These dedicated advocates and inspiring leaders will guide this work in both rural and urban communities in all 100 of our state’s counties.”

The following individuals were sworn into leadership at the NCCAA Conference in Cherokee and represent agencies throughout the State of North Carolina.

Mountain Projects receives generous $30,000 investment from Nantahala Health Foundation

Mountain Projects Community Action Agency has received a $30,000 investment grant from Nantahala Health Foundation to increase home safety for underserved populations in Jackson County.

Grant investment funds from the Foundation will be used for Housing Rehabilitation projects in Jackson County. “We have a long waiting list for these services, and it will feel good to give these people some relief,” says Mountain Projects Rehabilitation and Weatherization Program Manager, Vivian Bumgarner.

The Weatherization and Rehabilitation program manages urgent repairs for low income homeowners. Oftentimes, clients need accessibility modifications to their homes and other urgent repairs to prevent imminent displacement. Accessibility projects include ramp building and making bathrooms safe and usable, while other projects might include replacement of doors and windows or other weatherization measures that keep the household warm and reduce costly heating bills.

“These funds are essential in our effort to support the wellbeing of underserved households in Jackson County and will assist with the independence and self-sufficiency of local seniors,” says Mountain Projects Executive Director Patsy Davis. “This project would not have been possible without this support from Nantahala Health Foundation.” 

About Mountain Projects

Mountain Projects is a non-profit Community Action Agency founded in 1965. We offer programs and services that improve life in Haywood and Jackson Counties, and our 145 employees serve more than 15,000 people each year. Our programs and partnerships help provide assistance with health and wellness, housing, education, transportation and much more.

We serve seniors, households with economic need, the disabled and individuals and families experiencing emergencies. If we cannot provide needed services, we connect clients to those who can.

For more information about Mountain Projects and how you can support this community effort, please call Patsy Davis at 828-452-1447 or visit our website at

About Nantahala Health Foundation

Working as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, Nantahala Health Foundation seeks to partner with nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties and the Qualla Boundary to achieve better health and wellness outcomes for all. By working to address the upstream, root causes of health inequities and by removing barriers to positive social determinants of health, NHF’s success is seen best in partnerships with regional change-makers. Since its establishment in 2019, NHF has awarded nearly $3.13 million in support to some 148 programs throughout the region. Visit NHF’s website to join their Healthy Future Movement.