• Members of the Can Do Girlz Relay for Life Team from 2015 were Crystal Sluder, Teresa Ricks, Jackie Stiles, Monica Stiles and Wendy Woods (from left).
    Members of the Can Do Girlz Relay for Life Team from 2015 were Crystal Sluder, Teresa Ricks, Jackie Stiles, Monica Stiles and Wendy Woods (from left).
  • Jared “Blue” Smith plays banjo for the crowd during the Harvest to Table Dinner Saturday evening at the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center in Andrews. Photo by BEN KATZ
    Jared “Blue” Smith plays banjo for the crowd during the Harvest to Table Dinner Saturday evening at the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center in Andrews. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Monica's legacy lives on in scholarship

   Monica Stiles believed she and her friends could do anything. In fact, she named their Relay for Life team The Can Do Girlz.
    “It’s more than a Relay for Life team,” close friend Teresa Ricks said. “We’re sisters.”
    That can-do spirit followed her as an educator – both as a longtime teacher assistant at Murphy Elementary School and through One Dozen Who Care’s 10-10-10 mentoring program.
    “Monica was a special person,” said Ann Miller Woodford, founder of One Dozen Who Care.
    Stiles was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Arletta, almost eight years ago. It was determined that the cancer caused the complications she had while pregnant.
    Ricks said Stiles had been doing well for about five years, but the cancer “came back with a vengeance.” Stiles passed away at home on Sept. 8.
    Before she passed, Ricks and the other Can Do Girlz – Jackie Stiles, Wendy Woods and Crystal Sluder – decided to help her passion for education continue in the form of the Monica Sudderth Stiles Memorial Scholarship. Ricks talked with Stiles about the idea.
    “She was always very humble,” Ricks said. “She just smiled and said, ‘That’s very nice.’ “
    A few weeks later, Stiles asked Ricks if the first scholarship could go to her daughter. Ricks agreed.
    “She said this was the last thing she could ever do for her daughter,” Ricks said.
    As of Monday, $856 had been raised for the scholarship.
    Ricks hopes they can raise enough funds to provide a scholarship to a graduating Cherokee County student every year after the initial scholarship for Arletta. Specifications for the scholarship have not been decided yet. They know they want to offer it throughout the county, as Stiles’ volunteer work in various organizations touched the lives of people all over.
    Principal C.J. Rummler said Murphy Elementary School also is working on plans to honor Stiles.
    “She was a real impact on our students,” Rummler said.
    Donations to the scholarship may be made to the Monica Sudderth Stiles Memorial Scholarship Fund at United Community Bank in Murphy, Andrews and Hayesville.

Harvest to Table Dinner raises money for center
    Each year, the Harvest to Table Dinner shows what the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center in Andrews offers to the community while bringing people together to raise funds to pay for utilities and maintain the building built in 1923. The former First Baptist Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.
    “It’s our biggest fundraiser,” said Pat Burley, treasurer of the Valleytown Cultural Arts & Historical Society. “We bring in more money at this event than any other.”
    This year, the profit was $2,877. Money was raised through sales of 72 tickets, plus a silent auction of 34 items from 31 local businesses and individuals. Burley said the board will need to discuss doing another fundraiser soon, as just the cost to repair the entry stairs, railing and ramp was $5,598.
    “We still have a long way to go,” she said.
    Planning for the fundraiser starts in the spring, with different board members taking on different tasks. For example, Andrews Art Museum Director Tom Vogler booked the artist, then works with the artist on what pieces would be best for the event. He is friends with Jimmy Ryder Murphy IV and asked for his paintings with an autumn theme or horses.
    “I knew I could count on him,” Vogler said. “He’s the quintessential artist.”
    The variety of Murphy’s work can be found in local businesses, like The Daily Grind & Wine, Bistro 29 and Blue Moon Elise.
    Margaret Phillips, the home economics teacher at Andrews High School, planned the menu featuring local produce and meat for the evening. Students in her classes made the dessert, worked on most of the salad, prepared the carrots and quartered the chicken.
    The dinner began with a corn salad served in a ripened tomato, with corn, peppers and tomatoes provided by SMM Farms. Each table also was provided with bread loaves from Alice Craig, which could be spread with apple butter made with fruit from Barber Orchards.
    The main course featured either tender slow-roasted lamb from Smokin’ C Ranch or chicken from Franny’s Farm. Sides were Craig’s tri-colored carrots roasted with olive oil from Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. and fried cabbage from SMM Farms.
    For dessert, everyone was treated to honey apple sorbet topped with a candy apple chip, using apples from Barber Orchards and honey from Smokin’ C Ranch. Beverages were offered by Calaboose Cellars, Ferncrest Winery, Granieri’s Italian Restaurant, Monte Alban Mexican Restaurant and Hoppy Trout Brewing Co.
    Sarah Knowles, Frank Jones, Erla Jones and Lori Coffey used their culinary talents to prepare and cook the meal. Musical entertainment was provided by Jared “Blue” Smith.
    Ryan Bender served as master of ceremonies for the evening. Bender said he fell in love with building the first time he walked in it, and could not refuse when Coffey asked him to help.
    “It’s just too pretty to go to waste,” he said, “and what we have done in here is inspiring.”
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.