Hard work begins now for Haywood prison project

Jul 18, 2014

Haywood County’s project to convert the former Hazelwood prison into a homeless shelter, half-way house and community kitchen is now a top six finalist to win $50,000 in project funding through the Ty Pennington/Guaranteed Rate Ultimate Neighborhood GiveBack Challenge.

The local support from residents voting on Facebook was incredible. Haywood’s project received the most votes of any project and stayed far ahead of all the others. But clicking a button on Facebook is easy — now the hard work will begin.

The voting portion of the competition only counts for 20 percent of a project’s overall score. The judges also are looking at how much impact the project would have on a community and whether the community has plausible plans to execute the project.

There’s no doubt this project would have a major impact on this community for years to come and a majority of residents support it. But now we need to prove to the judges that we are motivated to make it happen, whether we win the challenge or not.

Fundraising needs to be our main focus right now. If we could raise a significant amount of money to put toward the project costs by the end of July when the winning project is slated to be selected, it would show the judges how deserving we are of the $50,000 grand prize.

One way to do that is to buy a ticket now for the Haywood Helps fundraising gala to be held at Laurel Ridge Country Club on Aug. 28. If all 500 tickets were sold by the end of the month, we would have a 100-percent match for the Ultimate Give Back Challenge grand prize. That would send a strong message to the judges.

Tickets cot $100 and can be purchased at The Mountaineer, 220 N. Main St. in Waynesville, by sending checks to Mountain Projects/Haywood Helps, 2251 Old Balsam Road, Waynesville, NC 28786 or donate through the Haywood Helps Facebook page by clicking “Give Now.”

If you can’t attend the gala, consider making any donation you can to assist this project to show your support. The final round of Facebook voting will continue through July 29. To watch the video about the project and share it with friends, go to http://bit.ly/1vJi54g or visit the Guaranteed Rate Facebook page.