In the High Country, a small nonprofit is making a big impact on the lives of local teens. Mountain Alliance helps teenagers develop leadership skills such as communication, critical thinking, and problem solving, while cultural experiences and travel throughout the United States allow students to expand their worldview.
According to Associate Director Rachel Witmer, Mountain Alliance has two program components: experiential leadership development outings and after-school academic support. Outdoor adventures help students challenge themselves within a supportive and safe environment, while teaching them environmental stewardship. “Service outings help students develop an ethic of care for others, an understanding of local social issues, and a sense of the importance of being a contributing member of a community,” she notes.
The after-school support program, School’s Out, provides tutoring, homework help, and mentoring. Mountain Alliance youth assist with community service projects both locally and in other states, the latter undertaken during school breaks or during the summer. During the ’22-’23 school year, students on Mountain Alliance trips in Avery and Watauga counties completed approximately 850 hours of service.
Much of what Mountain Alliance accomplishes couldn’t happen without their annual fundraiser at Blowing Rock WinterFest—an annual fair full of entertainment, food and drink, and more. Bidding for the silent auction will take place January 20-27; there will be in-person viewing of items for sale on January 27 at the American Legion Hall in Blowing Rock. This year’s auction items include gift cards, hotel stays, artwork, outdoor gear, spa packages, adventure experiences, concert tickets, pet training and boarding, and more.
To learn more and support Mountain Alliance, visit their website, mountainalliance.org