What and Who on Earth is “Catch the Spirit of Appalachia?”

What:   A nonprofit 501(c)(3) Art and Heritage Organization

Vision: “Planting seeds of heritage through the Arts”

Mission:  To tell stories that inspire the audience, to share visions of our heritage through public art, to record oral history by interviewing those who live in Appalachia, to publish the written word of those who otherwise could not, to award scholarships for higher education in Appalachian Studies, to encourage our youth to save our music heritage, to save our environment and sense of place.  


Co-Founders: The storytelling duo of “The Ammons Sisters”—Amy Ammons Garza & Doreyl Ammons Cain

A Board of Directors from Western North Carolina who represent the culture and area

For almost 30 years my sister, Doreyl, and I have done storytelling performances throughout the south where our primary audience is elementary children—800 children sitting on the floor of a basketball court, or in a 500-seat auditorium, or in a classroom of 20-30 kids.  Sometimes the audience is the general public; sometimes the audience is the occupancy of a nursing home.  As I tell simple stories of growing up,  Doreyl brings the story alive as she illustrates the stories on a four’ by six’ mural behind me. At the end, I share a true story of when I was a mountain child, ridiculed by my peers. Then I perform a poem called “I Ain’t Nobody,” followed by another poem called “I Am Somebody.” The two poems are simple, straight-forward, and powerful, because I identify with almost everyone. Afterwards, children have come up to me saying, “That has happened to me…I understand what to do now.” Senior adults have said to me, “When you’re young, you have time to grow out of feeling unimportant…I don’t have time at my age.”  It gives me the opportunity to respond and they leave, smiling.

 In our writing and visual art workshops with children, we explain the left and right brain. Simply said, the left brain speaks with words and is a huge computer. The right brain speaks with pictures and is the site of unlimited creativity. The current world is run on the left side of the brain, where art is the first thing to go when cutting funds to schools. In one workshop, we asked fourth grade children what would happen if the world was run on the right side of the brain. One young man raised his hand and said, “There would be no more war.”

 Many times those outside of our region consider Appalachia a poor place, inhabited by poor people who face a number of negative stereotypes. Catch the Spirit of Appalachia is working to replace that image from within our own people, proving to everyone in our audience that all have worth. It is through the voices of the actual people who live in Appalachia that our negative image can be replaced with the truth—we are all wonderful and special in our own way. We are only “poor” if we think we are.

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia works through:

Storytelling, Scholarships, Supporting Youth Talent Contests, Historical Murals:  spiritofappalachia.org

Saving Oral History (an online podcast):   storiesofmountainfolk.com

Publishing Local Writers (now over 100 books):  CSABooks.com

Why Should You Support Catch the Spirit of Appalachia?

Everyone has roots from which to blossom. Everyone has creativity from which to achieve. However, not everyone is aware of their great worth. Catch the Spirit of Appalachia works to assist the individual to become aware of his or her great worth in society…of his or her importance in linking generation to generation for the future of human kind. To know “who” you are is to believe in yourself…then you can achieve anything! We would welcome your contribution to help us continue our vision, our mission—to encourage and support our youth, our senior adults, each individual, while saving our heritage, our sense of place. All our efforts need funding.  By donating, you are standing alongside us. Thank you so much!