More Than Four Decades of Effective Community Action!
In 1964 twelve concerned citizens formed a steering committee to seek help in the struggle against poverty in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey counties. They applied for assistance from the NC Fund and were approved as one of the seven original project areas to receive funding. W.A.M.Y. was chartered as a private 501-c3 nonprofit agency in 1964 through Economic Opportunity Act, in conjunction with President Johnson’s War on Poverty, and with assistance from the NC Fund and Office of Economic Opportunity.
W.A.M.Y.’s founding mission: “to promote individual and family self-sufficiency in order to alleviate poverty at the root level and to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey counties.”. Our first Executive Director was Mr. Ernest Eppley and our first Board Chair was Dr. William Plemmons.
Community action agencies are unique because they are able to change the programs they offer as the needs of their community arise. Our tripartite board structure promotes the participation of the entire community in assessing local needs and attacking the causes and conditions of poverty. Our board is made up of 1/3 Elected public officials or their representatives 1/3 Private sector representatives and 1/3 Low-income representatives.
Our funding comes from Federal and state grants, local governments, community foundations and private contributors. Our list of past and present services includes community centers (now known as Senior Centers), Rural Transportation Systems in all four counties (AppalCART), Head Start Centers, Craft Centers (Blue Ridge Hearthside Crafts Cooperative), Summer Youth Programs (Neighborhood Youth Corps), Adult Day and Health Care Center of Yancey County
WAMY has programs and offices in each of the four counties with the central office and coordination in Boone. The success of WAMY for over four decades, the many community partnerships, and clients’ personal successes have enabled WAMY to remain at the forefront of the fight against poverty. Community Action programs in its four county region provide a variety of services, awareness, solutions, and empowerment to address needs.