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Last updated 12/31/2020 at 10:47am

Cathy Oliver, Jane DuBois and Beth Ann collect canned foods during one of the fundraising drives.

This year taught us how to live life differently, but in spite of the havoc the pandemic wreaked over our world acts of love and kindness were seen everywhere. Strangers came to the rescue, an entire profession - not just a single person - became heroes, and compassion seeped into homes and communities bringing comfort to the lonely. Angels on Earth appeared everywhere. One even landed in Transylvania County to give hope and to spread kindness, and her name is Beth Ann Chiles.

From very early on Beth Ann learned the power of kindness. Growing up in a home that was built on a foundation of faith and love, with doors opened to missionaries, parishioners, or anyone who needed help, Beth Ann and her family lived the scripture verse, “do unto others.”

“My dad was a Methodist minister, and while I grew up in a small rural town that didn’t have the diversity we have in our world today, I learned that it didn’t matter who you were or what your circumstance was that opening your arms and including everyone was a way to show love,” she remembered. “I learned that there is no downside to having a generous heart, and that giving doesn’t mean just giving financially - there are many different ways to give.”

And Beth Ann certainly knows how to give.

Since moving to Connestee Falls in 2015 with her husband Chris, Beth Ann has found more than one way to give back to the people of Transylvania County.

Just over the course of this year alone, Beth Ann has either led or has been a part of executing three fundraising efforts that benefitted the good people of Brevard.

In May, she joined Jane DuBois and Cathy Oliver and spearheaded the “Pack the Pavilion” event – a contact-free food drive – that collected canned goods, paper products, baby supplies, and monetary donations for the Sharing House and Bread of Life. The event was so successful, and the need so great, that the ladies banded together and held another drive in November.

Over the summer during the peak of the pandemic when face masks were scarce, Beth Ann, Jane and Cathy joined forces once again and organized a “Mask Drive for Schools.” The ladies enlisted the help of Connestee Falls residents who put their sewing skills to work to create beautiful masks for children and adults. More than 4,000 disposable and cloth masks were donated to the Transylvania County School District.

Because of her love of books and reading, which started at the tender age of four, Beth Ann created the Little Free Library. The Little Free Library is a drop off/pick up box in front of the Whistlestop Market. As the one and only ‘librarian’ she collects books and makes sure the shelves are stacked. She encourages passersby to stop, take a book, and share it. Be sure to visit the Little Free Library and check out or leave one of your favorite books.

To help the young women of Transylvania County realize their dreams of attending college, Beth Ann volunteers with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), specifically with their annual book sale fundraiser. The AAUW helps advance the women’s careers and encourages more women to pursue higher education. This year’s book sale was cancelled because of COVID-19, but the AAUW is pressing on for 2021. The six day event raises money for scholarships and other programs that benefit our local women and girls.

Beth Ann is quick to point out that “she is far from perfect,” and that her acts of kindness “doesn’t save lives.” But, for those who receive her gifts of love there’s no doubt their day is made brighter. As a hospice volunteer she uses her talent for arts and crafts and makes greeting cards for families grieving the loss of a loved one. In two years, she handmade more than 1,000 cards.

If you want to dive into Beth Ann’s life and learn more about her heart for giving, visit her blog at http://www.itsjustlife.me. It’s the platform she uses to share anecdotes about her life and to stay connected to friends and family. To call attention to causes close to her heart, the blog features a ‘Comments for a Cause’ initiative which highlights subjects or organizations like Parkinson’s, dementia or the Sharing House. Every time a browser comments on the ‘Comments for a Cause’ post, Beth Ann’s husband make a donation to the non-profit. It’s her ‘virtual’ way of giving back!

While being kind is natural for Beth Ann she recognizes that for others it may take some effort, and offers this for inspiration:

Beth Ann's love of books and reading started at a very young. (Courtesy photos)

“If you have an interest or a heart to do something kind, persevere to make it happen. One small act of kindness can turn the tide for someone, and when you get in the habit of performing these small gestures it will become natural. One act of kindness is like throwing a pebble into the water. When the pebble lands it starts a ripple effect and magnifies ten times its size. It doesn’t matter how small the act of kindness is you never know how large its impact can be!”

So as we wrap up this ‘stranger than fiction’ kind of year, my wish is that you are well in mind, body and spirit. That through this trial you have learned to live life differently, that you reflected and reprioritized, but most of all that you were able to give a little bit of kindness along the way.

Goodbye 2020. Hello to all that is new!

Be sure to check back here the last Thursday of the month to learn about what the residents of Connestee Falls are doing to help build a better community!

 
 

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