​F@H Benefit Concert this Saturday

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The second annual benefit concert for Folks at Home is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, July 6, in Angel Park, downtown Sewanee.

There will be a raffle, a silent auction and live music, with all proceeds going to Folks at Home. The Shenanigans food truck will be onsite with food and drink for purchase.

Folks at Home, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, is part of a larger national village-to-village movement that empowers aging individuals to remain in their homes and communities with dignity, according to Wall Wofford, who serves as the executive director.

“We do that with a two-pillar model. One is services. We provide transportation, home check-ins, tech support, and we coordinate caregivers,” he said. “The other pillar is our programming, and often these are about preventative health. This year we are running a program on balance. Then we are going to cap that all off with ballroom dances. We did a memoir writing class a couple of months ago that finished up, and we started doing book reading clubs this year too.”

Wofford, who graduated from the University in 1988, said he began to better understand the challenges that come with growing older when his father passed away.

“That was about 10 years ago, and at that point, my mother, Carolyn, was living alone, and I was in California. I would bring her out for the winter, but I was looking for a way to close the distance,” he said. “That’s when I found the opening with Folks at Home. The first real job I had after Sewanee was as a caseworker. Following that, I became a paramedic, and then I went to seminary. I think I have a heart for people, and I think as my mom was aging, I had even more of a heart for the challenges that come with that. I still have a lot to learn, but working with Folks at Home, I get to help.”

Wofford said the original idea for the benefit concert came after he met Mercedes “Mechi” Ingles, whose family has lived on the Mountain since 1978.

Ingles was unfamiliar with the organization, and as someone who has been in the caregiver role for family members, she said she wanted to do something to raise awareness around the mission of F@H.

“I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard about Folks at Home and what they do. I understand the weight of the work. It can be an even harder role in a very small community where we don’t have huge hospitals and lots of facilities and everything that huge cities can offer,” she said. “To have an organization that specifically focuses on helping people make connections and stay active in their community, that makes things a lot simpler.”

Wofford said he and Ingles put their heads together after she expressed an interest in volunteering, and from there, the benefit concert began taking shape. Ingles reached out to local businesses, musicians and community members, doing what she called “connecting the dots.”

“One of my main goals is to try to get as many businesses involved as possible. The goal is to shine as much light on Folks at Home as we can and encourage community involvement for anybody who is willing and interested,” she said. “Considering the size of Sewanee and the fact that a lot of things are focused on a college-aged generation, I wholeheartedly believe that what Folks at Home does is crucial to our community.”

Wofford said when you boil things down, Folks at Home is all about keeping communities intact.

“Two of the founding members said, ‘We were tired of seeing our friends have to move away because of lack of resources.’ We can’t replace assisted living, but we can extend the time you stay in your home, and you can be there with a greater sense of security and knowing there is someone you can call,” he said.

To support the mission of Folks at Home, mark your calendars for Saturday, July 6. Raffle tickets are $25, and you must be present to claim your prize. Prizes include a salon basket donated by Beauty by Tabitha’s, event swag bags, tours and other items donated by Black Abbey Brewing Company, gifts from Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse and a grand prize of two tickets to a Caverns show.

There will also be a silent auction that includes a certificate for a gourmet meal prepared for up to six people by chef George Stevenson.

For more information, call Folks at Home at (931) 598-0303.