Land of the sky, home of the brave

Did you know that 27 different languages are spoken in Asheville and Buncombe County schools? That North Carolina’s Latino population has nearly doubled over the last seven years?

To educate our citizens about our state’s increasing cultural diversity, the Mountain Family Resource Coalition is hosting a conference titled “Building Cultural Competency: Strength-Based Approaches to Working with Immigrant Families in Western North Carolina.” The objectives are simple but challenging: To identify cultural barriers; reflect on our own assumptions, attitudes and behaviors concerning different cultures; and learn more about Buncombe County’s immigrant populations.

Jana Kozel (a local parent from Russia’s Belarus region) and Ned Cabaniss (a local service provider who speaks Russian) will facilitate a discussion on Ukrainian perspectives. Maria des Carmen Cuerto de Vasquez (a local parent who was born and raised in Mexico) and Betsy Alexander (a service provider who spent six years in Guatemala) will lead a discussion of Hispanic concerns.

The conference will be held on Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Cove Lake Conference Center in Asheville; the registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 12. Anyone seeking to broaden their own cultural horizons is welcome. The conference costs $15, including lunch.

For more information, call 253-9314.

It ain’t easy being green

Nominations are being sought for the 1998 Founder’s Award, which recognizes the outstanding contribution of an individual, business or organization to preserving and conserving Henderson County’s natural heritage.

Presented by the board of directors of the Environmental and Conservation Organization, the Founder’s Award will be announced at ECO’s annual meeting on Sunday, Oct. 25, at Blue Ridge Community College. Nominations must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the ECO office (119 Third Ave. West, Hendersonville, NC, 28792).

A nomination statement (500 words or less) should address the following questions: What are the nominee’s specific contributions to the conservation and preservation of the natural heritage of the Henderson County region, and why are they extraordinary? What amount of time and/or money has the nominee devoted to this effort? How has the nominee demonstrated leadership and set an example that positively affects other local environmental efforts?

The recipient will receive a certificate and an original blown-glass sculpture by nationally renowned artisan Chaffe McIlhenny. Past honorees include Charles “Chuck” McGrady, Lela McBride, Anne Ulinski and Ken Weitzen.

To learn more, call ECO at 692-0385.

Bridge over troubled waters

State Transportation Secretary Norris Tolson recently announced that the N.C. Department of Transportation is working on a plan to protect the state’s environment by building bridges over more of the highest-quality wetlands, instead of building roads through them. The DOT plans to work with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to minimize the impact on wetlands, according to a DOT press release.

“This agency realizes the importance of protecting our natural resources,” Tolson said in a recent statement. “Transportation has a great impact on our natural environment, and we should be taking the lead in looking for ways to preserve North Carolina’s great natural resources.”

The DOT will also provide a $750,000 grant to the Center for Transportation and the Environment, to research ways to lessen the environmental impact of surface transportation.

To find out more, call Hannah D. Jernigan at (919) 733-2522.

Free programs for cancer survivors

Education about cancer can save lives. In this spirit, the Leukemia Society of America and the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship have come together to develop specialized programs that address four areas not generally included in cancer education.

The programs, collectively called “Cancer: Keys to Survivorship,” include “Strategies for Self-Empowerment and Self-Care,” (Thursday, Oct. 8); “Skills in Communicating with Health-Care Providers,” (Thursday, Oct. 15); “Your Employment Rights as a Cancer Survivor,” (Thursday, Oct. 22); and “What You Need to Know About Insurance,” (Thursday, Oct. 29).

The programs will be presented at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Charlotte, from 6-9 p.m. Dinner will be served, and participants will receive a complimentary copy of A Cancer Survivor’s Almanac.

To register, or for more information, call (800) 888-9934.

Building assets — one family at a time

Changing lives is what the Affordable Housing Coalition is all about: They plan to implement “economic literacy” training by targeting 35 low-income families and helping them build Individual Development Accounts.

IDAs are savings accounts set up in an individual’s name, perhaps even at birth. The money can be used only for specified purposes, such as education, starting a business or buying a first home. Unlike IRAs, however, IDAs can serve a wider range of purposes and rely on more varied sources of deposits, including government and private matching funds for the working poor. Working with both local nonprofit and governmental agencies, the AHC will focus on asset building for the purchase of a first home.

The families chosen will have incomes below 80 percent of the median for the area; the AHC aims to have at least 25 of the 35 families in their own homes by October of the year 2000. Families will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis; and each family will be required to complete a 12-hour Home Buyer Education Course, a six-hour course on money management, and a 10-hour basic-home-maintenance course. Participants will also receive one-to-one counseling with the AHC and the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, as needed.

To learn more, call M. Helen O’Connor at 259-9518.

Get ready for the HUGE parade

The sign-up deadline is fast approaching, if you want to be a part of Asheville’s 52nd Christmas Parade.

In an effort to improve on Asheville’s already impressive Christmas Parade — the city’s 52nd — a committee of local parade enthusiasts, headed by Karen Tessier, has been working diligently to make the event better than ever. New features have been added, including three giant helium-filled balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the First Annual “Snow Queen” competition and Snow Queen Float, more music, dancers, classic cars, mascots and people in wild costumes than ever before. The parade will even get political, with a 10-foot-tall caricature of Mayor Leni Sitnick.

Area schools, organizations and businesses are invited to showcase their talents in this year’s float competition, whose theme is “Silver Bells.” Entrants are encouraged to incorporate the theme into their float, music and dance, and costumes. Cash prizes will be awarded for best design, performance, spirit and/or theme.

For the Snow Queen competition, the faculties of Asheville City and Buncombe County high schools each will select one young woman from their school to enter the contest. The parade committee will then select a winner, who will be bestowed with the title of “Snow Queen,” receive a $1,000 academic scholarship, and ride on a special float along with other entrants, who will comprise her court.

But hurry: The deadline to sign up is Monday, Oct. 12.

For more information, call Tara Scholz (251-4147).

— cabalistically compiled by Paul Schattel

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