A unique Charlotte to Chicago connection forms to help children
WRITTEN BY Laura Thompson
See the full post to read a truly inspiring story!
This is a story of the serendipity of life, of the powerful ties that we create throughout our lives and of our many activities and pursuits, which extend to our volunteerism and our philanthropic activities. Just like a spider’s web, our interconnected work may be difficult to see and might often appear insignificant. But the connections we create are, indeed, strong.
Jane Tune, a Fort Worth, Texas native, has spent significant amounts of time over the last 20 years living in Chicago and Charlotte: first in Chicago for graduate school, then on to Charlotte after getting married, then back to Chicago and then back again to Charlotte—all in a span of 15 years. While living in both cities, Tune dedicated a great deal of time to local organizations, in particular, The Southern Alliance while living on Chicago’s North Shore and the Council For Children’s Rights while living in Charlotte.
Tune recently experienced a wonderful turn of such serendipity—her two worlds bumped into one another. While working on this issue of Peachy with her close friend Blair Farris, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Peachy, Tune hoped to highlight the work of her cadre of Southern friends who have created and maintained The Southern Alliance for more than 60 years.
Tune was delighted to learn that The Southern Alliance’s primary beneficiary, The Crossnore School—located in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina—had just hired its CEO, Brett Loftis, former executive director of Charlotte’s Council for Children’s Rights. For Tune, this was a wonderful moment of Southern Serendipity.
“I came on the board again in 2013, right around the time Brett moved to Crossnore. I was so sad to lose Brett, but excited for him and understand his reasons for moving his family and taking on this new adventure,” Tune says. “It did not take me long to make the connection between The Southern Alliance and Crossnore and Brett.”
100 YEARS OF DEDICATION
The Southern Alliance can trace its founding to an organization that was established 100 hundred years ago. The Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth was created as a national organization in 1914 by Dr. O. Latham Hatcher, a faculty member at Bryn Mawr College and a native of Richmond, Virginia. From the start, the organization
provided educational opportunities for children living in isolated areas of the rural South. By 1947, it became The Southern Alliance, drawing together its Chicago members through a common bond—their Southern roots.
“The Southern Alliance was a breath of fresh air for me. The girls were ‘my people,’” Tune says. “Not only did everyone have Southern roots but we were all new to the North Shore so we had a move in common as well.”
“We’re a collection of, as I refer to us ‘displaced Southerners,’ ” adds Dee Fortson, president of The Southern Alliance. “The South is in our blood and in our hearts. We enjoy reminiscing about all things Southern and we celebrate various aspects of the South, Southern cooking, entertaining, culture.”
REACHING BACK TO THE SOUTH
Starting in the mid-1980s, The Southern Alliance expanded its activities by developing philanthropic efforts and selecting a primary beneficiary of these funds: The Crossnore School, a K–12 charter and residential school for children located in the mountains of North Carolina. It was founded in 1913 by Dr. Mary Martin Sloop as a
boarding school for children in need who were living in rural areas throughout the Western North Carolina mountains.
Crossnore is continuing its mission by providing a residential facility to care for 95 children between the ages of 1 and 21 who can no longer live athome because of neglectful or abusive circumstances. Crossnore School, which secured one of North Carolina’s first charters in 1999, continues to provide all-encompassing services and education for students with special needs that traditional public schools find challenging to serve.
“To me, one of the most exciting aspects of Crossnore is the 360-degree care we are able to give our kids,” Loftis says. “On campus, we have comprehensive health care, masters-level therapists, non-denominational spiritual development, equine therapy, sports, on-campus jobs as well as providing high quality education.”
The history of how and why Crossnore was selected is unclear, but Loftis feels certain that there must be a connection to the Daughters of the Revolution, of which Crossnore is one of six schools, nationally, funded by the DAR.
“The DAR is a huge part of Crossnore’s history and so much of what is important to the DAR is education, history, preservation and genealogy,” Loftis says. “These are values held close by so many and I think that may have been what attracted The Southern Alliance to Crossnore.”
Says Fortson: “Crossnore has been the perfect way for The Southern Alliance to channel its energies. We have greenery and Christmas trees from a farm in Virginia that are available for sale and home delivery to our members here in Chicago, raising approximately $2,000 each year.” The Southern Alliance’s commitment to this annual event and an annual gift to Crossnore has been continuous and faithful since the mid-1980’s, contributing more than $25,000 over the past 25 years.
“We feel so lucky to have such consistent support from The Southern Alliance,” Loftis says. “The funds we receive each year go toward private scholarships, allowing children who would not otherwise have an opportunity for this type of educational experience to come to Crossnore and benefit from our programs.”
Tune continues to be inspired and motivated by the work of all involved. “I feel that it is such a special connection for me personally—two very important chapters in my life have come together,” Tune says. “It offers me a wonderful opportunity to stay connected to The Southern Alliance and to Brett to help him further the work at Crossnore.”
There are more than 100 children in the K–12 charter school on the Crossnore campus. More than 80 children are residential and there are 22 distinct sibling groups.
In 2013, 96% of children made progress on their therapy goals, with the assistance of six masters-level therapists and more than 40 professional parents that Crossnore calls “Cottage Parents.”
All 10 residential cottages have rescue dogs as part of the Crossnore Pet Nurturing Program and there are four horses in Crossnore’s Equine Therapy Program.
100% of Crossnore School students will finish high school and 100% will have a chance to attend college or continuing education.
There are currently 31 graduates of the school enrolled at colleges in different parts of the region and nation.
For more information, visit the Crossnore School website.