Cass named 2023 Volunteer of the Year by Saluda Business Association

Published 9:01 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

SALUDA—Lynn Cass has been named the Cathy Jackson Volunteer of the Year for 2023 by the Saluda Business Association. A social in her honor will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 28, at Saluda Studios, located at 144 US-176.

Since moving to Saluda in 2009, Cass’s efforts have resulted in the founding of the nonprofit Saluda Downtown Foundation, Inc., the founding of Saluda Living in Place, the creation of the healthy living program On Track Saluda, historic preservation and the encouragement of communications between social service organizations through Saluda Connections.

“Cass’s ideas, leadership and organization have led to the founding of many programs that have had a profound impact on our community,” said Stephanie Winterrowd, president of the Saluda Business Association. 

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After retiring and moving to Saluda from Macon, Ga., Cass attended a meeting about preserving Saluda’s history and historic preservation. Cass had served on historic preservation committees in Georgia and was drawn to Saluda’s history and main street. The Historic Saluda Committee was formed by the Saluda Board of Commissioners and Cass served as the first chairperson of the committee. 

A year later she ran for the Board of City Commissioners and served for four years. City Hall was renovated during her time on the board to help preserve the historic building.

As a commissioner, Cass and the city worked with the State of North Carolina to get a Small Town Main Street designation for Saluda. Public meetings were held to gain insight from residents about economic development, marketing and promotions for the town’s future, and the beautification of Main Street. As a result of Small Town Main Street, the 501(c)3 charitable organization Saluda Downtown Foundation, Inc., was created. Cass served as the first president of the foundation, which was responsible for Saluda’s branding, creation of a community concert series, and promotion of Saluda’s small businesses through grants and programs. She currently serves as its treasurer.

In 2015, Cass read the book Being Mortal and learned of the nationwide movement to help people stay in their homes as they age. She discussed the book with the Outreach Committee at the Church of the Transfiguration. The discussion led to the founding in 2016 of Saluda Living in Place (SLIP). 

“We knew Saluda had so many aging people who did not want to leave this place. They wanted to stay in Saluda,” said Cass.

SLIP offers social programs, educational programs, and seminars. Volunteers take residents to doctor appointments and to events to help get them out of the house. The organization also does assessments of homes to improve home safety and accessibility. Cass served on the first board of SLIP and as chair for five years. In 2017 it received its 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the IRS. 

During the organization of SLIP, Cass and other founding members realized the importance of healthy eating, exercise and social interaction. They read about Blue Zones, an organization that was based on the habits of the world’s communities with the greatest longevity. The City of Brevard became a Blue Zone and initiated healthy living habits. Cass organized a meeting with Brevard’s Blue Zone representative and from there Saluda volunteers got organized and created On Track Saluda, a program under SLIP. A kickoff for the program was held in June 2023 with more than 200 residents attending to eat healthy food, learn about group exercising initiatives, and how to be more involved in the community through volunteering. 

Cass observed that many of Saluda’s social service organizations were working to accomplish many of the same goals and proposed a monthly meeting of representatives from churches and Saluda nonprofits called Saluda Connections. More than 25 representatives from nonprofits and churches attended the first meeting. Saluda Connections continues meeting each month at 9:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Church of the Transfiguration. 

“It’s important for us all to take care of each other and be there for each other,” Cass said. 

The Saluda Business Association began awarding the Cathy Jackson Volunteer of the Year in 2021 with Cathy Jackson as the first recipient.

 

Submitted by Lynn Casey