Help bring national spotlight to Haywood

By Vicki Hyatt | Jul 17, 2014

Haywood County is on the cusp of receiving nationwide attention for what many in the community believe is its greatest asset — its heart.

But to showcase the passion of many in the community for doing good, the group spearheading the Ty Pennington/Guaranteed Rate Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge needs donations before the end of July to seal the deal.

Tickets are now available for a Haywood Helps fundraising gala to be held at Laurel Ridge Country Club on Aug. 28. The results of the $100,000 national contest will be known by then, and the Haywood entry — one that will turn the former Hazelwood prison into transitional housing and a soup kitchen — is assured of receiving at least $10,000 as one of six finalists.

To win the top award of $50,000, Haywood needs to show it has the financial resources and the ability to get the project, dubbed the Haywood Pathways Center, off the ground.

Nick Honerkamp, senior pastor at New Covenant Church and the board chairman of the Haywood Christian Emergency Shelter organization, said the big question in his conversations with those running the Guaranteed Rate contest is whether they think the project is doable.

The county’s history of working together providing volunteer labor is stellar. Churches in the community have adopted schools in their neighborhood and before fall opening, thousands of volunteers can be found painting, landscaping or cleaning to get the classrooms ready for students.

“What we need to concentrate on now is fundraising,” Honerkamp stressed.

The fundraising event planned for the end of August has the potential to double the amount of funds on hand to tackle needed renovations at the former prison.

“If we could sell all 500 tickets before the contest ends on July 29, it will send a powerful message to the judges,” Honerkamp said.

Members of the Haywood Helps fundraising committee will be seeking donations for both a silent and live auction to be held in conjunction with the event where attendees will hear details about the project and the vision for how this center will make a difference across the county.

Tickets are $100 each 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.”

How the voting is going

In the Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge, public Facebook votes count for 20 percent of the score, and for the third round of voting, the Haywood project has a significant lead with more than 2,400 votes.

The runner-up as of early Thursday morning hadn’t yet hit 1,000. Each person can only vote in the contest once, but by sharing the link and asking others to support the project in Haywood, it will send an even stronger message about the support for the Haywood Pathways Center.

To watch the video about the project and share it with friends, go to or visit the Guaranteed Rate Facebook page.

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