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Tellico Continues to Work Together


Dan Kuzdzal, left, and Randall Heiden discuss plans for Tellico Working Together. Parker Wright | The Connection

Tellico Working Together has continued efforts in the community despite the pandemic putting a halt to events and other fundraising efforts. At the forefront of the group’s agenda lies Our PLACE. A meeting July 13 allowed representatives from each organization to bring forward plans to help Our PLACE fundraising efforts.

TWT is about maximizing the “collective impact on the community,” Dan Kuzdzal, Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village secretary and TWT co-founder, said. “We see things to work together on like Our PLACE for the community, so let’s think about what we can each do,” Kuzdzal said. “… Some of it we’re doing together, and some we’re doing individually. We can basically increase the impact, particularly in a time like this, given the economic situation in Loudon and Monroe counties, there’s a lot of people that need help. A lot of other charities need help. There are certain things we can do, as a group or individually, to support them. We’ve got to talk about that and get our focus in the right place.” One of the appealing aspects of the effort is each organization becomes a member of the group but has full autonomy in how it chooses to help, Kuzdzal said.

“The whole purpose is to make it so one organization doesn’t have to carry all the work,” Randall Heiden, Lions Club director and TWT co-founder, said. “So if the women’s group wants something, but they need some physical labor, all they have to do is talk to one of the other clubs, and the other club will be there to help them. … In other words, there’s a lot of older people in Tellico; I’m one of them. We might not be able to do everything, but if we can go to another club and say, ‘Can you help us on this,’ you can get a lot more done. Everyone’s smiling and happy, and the results are fantastic.”

In support of Our PLACE, the Kiwanis Club will host a free Kentucky Derby watch party 5-8 p.m. Sept. 5 at Toqua restaurant and pavilion. Donations to Our PLACE will be appreciated. A silent auction will also be hosted at the event, Kuzdzal said.

The Lions Club has created a committee dedicated to Our PLACE headed by Kathleen Dooley and Brenda Sherman. The committee has put together a Community Donation Match Campaign, which will match dollar-for-dollar contributions from Villagers up to $8,000 over the next two years. A Lion Member Donation Match Campaign has been put in place thanks to an anonymous donor, which will match dollar-for-dollar contributions from Lions Club members up to $8,000. Dooley reported the club is working on applying for a matching grant of up to $10,000 from Lions Club International. On top of fundraising efforts, the Lions Club hosts yearly events like Oktoberfest and a chili soup dinner. The club is exploring the idea of having $1 from each ticket sold to each of these events donated to Our PLACE as well as organizing a separate event to raise funds, Dooley said.

The Rotary Club is hosting its first Trek de Tellico nicknamed the Walk to Remember in honor of its net proceeds being donated to Our PLACE, Sue Everson, Trek de Tellico co-chairwoman, said. The walk is scheduled for Oct. 10 where participants will have various options including one- and two-mile walks on paved trails and hikes of varying lengths. For more information, visit www.tellicolakerotary.org. Cathy Maxwell and Barb Miller, Tellico Village Women’s Club members, said the club will be choosing from three fundraising options. The most promising approach looks like using the annual November Shoppes of Christmas event at the Yacht Club to raise funds for the adult day center. Jim Dezzutti, Our PLACE vice chairman, is also organizing an Army versus Navy football game in December in conjunction with Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

“What’s really exciting is to see how the group has progressed,” Dezzutti said. “At this point, it seems like every group is really rallying for Our PLACE and coming up with all kinds of things. … Tellico Working Together is not doing it just for us. It’s any big endeavor that is going to be undertaken in the Village is going to be supporting each other. I can’t believe how well it’s going.” Our PLACE is not the only cause on the group’s radar. Earlier in the year, Kevin Meyer, Kiwanis Club member, organized an event to raise funds and collect donations for the Loudon County Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County and Loudon County Animal Shelter. The emergency assistance team at the Community Church at Tellico Village will be busy in July and August, Kuzdzal said.

“The emergency assistance team at the Community Church has an ongoing project right now working in conjunction with compassion ministries in Loudon and Blount counties,” Kuzdzal said. “What they’re doing is food distributions, and they needed some assistance because of vacations and other things to help out in July and in August. I made one request and the next thing you know, Kiwanis had 14 people volunteer to help and Rotary had I think 14 or 15 people.” Heiden said the request was up for no more 24 hours before it was filled by volunteers.

Kuzdzal said he wishes planning could be more proactive right now, but everything is uncertain with COVID-19 circumstances changing every day. “A lot of this is more in planning in the fall,” he said. “It would be more accelerated, but we don’t want to plan and then to have to say we need to back off on it.”


For more information about sponsorship, visit www.ourplacetn.org.

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