The Peggy Crosby Center’s newest tenant is Overland Unlimited Bridge of Hope, whose mission is to educate veterans about how to overcome the long-term effects of combat and operational stress. 

  Founded by Justin Kingsland, a former British Army Airborne Special Forces member, Bridge of Hope seeks to help veterans and first responders who are suffering from the residual impact of their service.  Justin was motivated to create this program when a close friend, a veteran, committed suicide.

Some of you may remember reading about Justin’s for-profit venture, Highlands Excursions in Laurel last fall.  When not busy with this charitable endeavor Justin is active offering tours of the Plateau and surrounding areas of interest.   He offers the excursions of Highlands area free to Gold Star families.

An avid outdoorsman, Justin realized that his love of nature and his knowledge of survival skills might provide needed relief for veterans suffering after their discharge.  He uses educational materials from well-known behavioral specialist and author Pam Wolls as a foundation for the program.  Ms. Wolls also serves on the Board of OUBH. 

Utilizing nearby national parks for a two to three-day Warrior Survival School, the veterans are taught survival skills needed to improve their future lives.  Participants discuss resilience, the impact of stress chemicals, and how to rebalance their stress system.  

The program is free to veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as first responders.  Participants are referred to the program through word of mouth, the VA, and the website.  

Bridge of Hope relies on contributions and grants.  To support Overland Unlimited Bridge of Hope, a 501(c)(3) organization, go to  Having space at the Peggy Crosby Center provides Justin with a professional environment, interaction with other non-profits, plus conference space for debriefing, and storage for equipment.  The PCC is a non-profit 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization established to provide office space to other non-profits and community-serving organizations for a modest rent.  Contributions to PCC fund all the improvements; rental income pays only ongoing maintenance.  Holding rents low allows non-profits to spend more of their resources serving the community.

It’s said that a house is not a home without love.  

Well, just as true, the Peggy Crosby Center in Highlands is not merely a building, it’s a place of warmth and welcome, openness, opportunity, and outreach.    

“The Peggy Crosby Center is a building alive with energy,” said Margaret Eichman, executive director of Cullasaja Women’s Outreach. “It is filled with caring people who are ready, willing, and able to share insights, knowledge, and encouragement.  As home to the Highlands Literacy Council, Counseling & Psychotherapy Center, International Friendship Center, and Center for Life Enrichment learning sessions, it truly is a haven of good works, which we are proud to support.” 

The Center began as Highlands’ original hospital.  But since 1993 (when the hospital moved to its present campus), it has been repurposed and now houses community service and 501(c)(3) entities with its affordable office space, conference/learning center, and kitchen. 

“We could not have survived without the generosity of grants and donors that have kept our building vibrant,” said Ellis McIntyre, advocate of the Center.  “Through the years, Cullasaja Women’s Outreach has been one of our biggest supporters.  CWO grants have renovated our conference room, restyled our main entrance, and replaced an aging air-conditioning system – making our building more welcoming, safer, and professional.”  

By making rents affordable, the Peggy Crosby Center allows its tenants to focus more of their funds on effective outreach programs and services.  The Center operates with a break-even budget each year, and funds capital needs renovations, and major repairs – through the generosity of grants and contributions. 

“It’s so fulfilling to see the positive impact CWO grants have had on the Peggy Crosby facility.  Their board has done a wonderful job in planning and executing improvements,” said Joy Abney, Co-Chair of CWO’s Grants Committee.  “Helping local organizations broaden their influence and positively impact people’s lives is the touchstone of our Women’s Outreach.  I encourage others to consider supporting the Peggy Crosby Center – it’s a unique resource for Highlands and its non-profits.”

Since 2006, Cullasaja Women’s Outreach has pooled its member funds to build a stronger community. They have invested over $1,030,000 in the Highlands-Cashiers community through grants to 34 local not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

by Wiley Sloan 

Thanks to generous benefactors, the Peggy Crosby Center is the healthy home of some of the area's most vibrant non-profits. 

The Peggy Crosby Center, located at 348 South Fifth Street in Highlands, is the home of many of the non-profits of our area. 

Its convenient location provides free parking and easy ·ac­cess for citizens of all ages, making it a hub of activity for The Highlands Literacy Council, The International Friendship Cen­ter, The Center for Life Enrichment, Gilliam's Promise, The Counseling Center of Highlands, and The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. In addition to these non-profits, some specialized businesses fulfill needs to our community like geriatric care, catering, financial services, and an entrepreneurial consult­ing service helping emerging businesses. Without the Center, these businesses might not be able to locate in our communi­ty. This building was Highlands's first hospital, built more than 65 years ago. When the hospital moved to its present campus approximately 20 years ago, town leaders struggled to find the best use for this property. Thankfully, a gracious benefac­tor bequeathed money for the newly formed 501 C(3) entity, thus the name The Peggy Crosby Center. 

Each year the PCC Board works diligently to fulfill its mis­sion of "providing affordable office space to organizations who offer community services." They struggle to raise funds from both public and private donors to cover the capital ex­penses of maintaining this aging structure. The rents charged cover the cost of only the operating expenses - no capital ex­penses. This is no easy task since the PCC is not affiliated with any other organization and receives no ongoing funding from any source. Also PCC has to be careful that their fundrais­ing does not take funds away from their non-profit tenants. Key donors have been Cullasaja Women's Outreach, Western NC Community Foundation, Fibber's, Cannon Foundation, Laurel Garden Club, and Wild Azalea Garden Club, plus many private donors.

Over the past three years the PCC has received an updated, vibrant look with fresh new paint, carpeting, and art work. En­tering the building you are energized with the beauty of your surroundings. While beautiful, the improvements that have been made are not just cosmetic; new energy efficient win­dows, additional insulation, and new doors all help to reduce the monthly utility costs and make the building more ecologi­cally friendly. Let's not forget the improved fire safety that tenants enjoy. The improvements would not have been pos­sible without the generous donations of many of you and the professional expertise of the folks at Summit Architecture. 

If you're not familiar with the Peggy Crosby Center, please take time to stop by and visit the premises. There is still work to be done on the landscaping. The PCC property is home to some of nature's, most valuable trees -- the Franklinia Tree is considered to be one of the rarest trees in the world. There is also the Nordman Fir, a well-known indicator of environmental change that begs to be preserved. Finally, the European Fir, planted by early pioneer Thomas G. Harbison, is believed to be one of the-oldest of its kinds in North Carolina. 

The Peggy Crosby Center -- one of Highlands' many assets. 

by Wiley Sloan 

The Peggy Crosby Center is home to a trio of Highlands' most celebrated residents. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, botanists explored the Southern Appalachians in search of rare plants. 

William Bartram, the son of explorer John Bartram, vis­ited the region in 1776 and noted the wealth of unique varieties of plants found here.

Famed French Botanist Andre Michaux spent six years be­tween 1785-1791 keeping detailed journals and sending more than 90 cases of plants back to France for further study. 

South Carolina native Silas McDowell lived most of his life in southeast Macon County near the ancient Cherokee town of Sugartown. McDowell wrote articles expounding on the Ther­mal Belt (the no-frost zone) of the Southern Appalachians that provided a favorable area for fruit trees and other plants. 

Eventually, McDowell's writing came to the attention of Sam­uel Truman Kelsey and Clinton Carter Hutchinson, the two men credited with founding the town of Highlands. The duo believed that they'd be able to draw people to their community because of its unique flora and fauna and its health benefits.

Many of Highlands' earliest settlers came here because of the bio-diversity of the trees and plants that line the mountain slopes and creek sides.

Botanist turned educator Thomas Harbison walked from Pennsylvania to study the plant life of the area. Little did he know he'd end up spending the remainder of his life here.

The Highlands Improvement Society (the precursor of the Highlands Land Trust) and the Ladies Floral and Industrial Soci­ety were both formed to protect and preserve the natural beau- ty of the area. 

A prime example is the Franklinia Tree named after Benjamin Franklin. You may have noticed its beautiful white blossoms in the front of the Peggy Crosby Center at 348 South Fifth Street in Highlands. It's one of three Heritage Trees -- those specimens that are found only in our area of the Southeast. The Franklinia Tree (Franklinia alatamaha) is a small deciduous tree or large shrub which grows to be approximately 15 to 20 fees tall and 15 feet wide. Its elongated, dark green leaves turn orange, red, and pink in the fall. Its snowy white flower (2 to 3 inches in diameter) reminds some people of the bloom of the camellia. This Franklin­ia Tree is a descendant of the trees that were propagated by Bar­tram in the Bartram Gardens outside Philadelphia. These trees are nearly extinct in the wild but are readily available through nurseries. They like sandy, high acid soil that is well drained. 

The Peggy Crosby Center property also includes the European Silver Fir planted by Thomas G. Harbison and the Nordman Fir (a threatened species). Stroll up Fifth Street and walk the prop­erty to see these gems. The Peggy Crosby Center Board of Direc­tors is constantly working to protect these unique plants. If you would like to help, give them a call at (828) 526-9938.

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