On Thursday, August 10, more than 50 educators, local officials, and community partners gathered at Kent Poe Hall on the Ashe Campus of Wilkes Community College for the first annual Pathways to Wellness Event. The attendees represented a wide variety of fields, including medical providers, mental health providers, clergy, educators, school nurses, and more, all coming together with common concerns.

This event, keynoted by Dr. Anna Yaros of RTI International, was designed to engage the Ashe County Community in dialogue and deep reflection regarding the current state of mental well-being for that constituency. Becky Greer, director of WDCE for the Ashe Campus and the Alleghany Center and one of the event organizers noted the timeliness of this retreat saying, “While attending the Pathways to Wellness Retreat in Alleghany back in June, Ashe County Schools and WCC personnel quickly realized a similar event in Ashe was needed. Others in the community had already been meeting to discuss the importance of mental health, and the rising struggles with mental illness and suicide so we assembled a small planning team including some of these individuals, to bring this event to fruition. We are thankful the retreat was so well attended and extend our personal thanks to the many businesses and individuals who supported this event with door prizes and giveaways to the attendees. We live in an amazing community and this type of collaboration will be key to supporting and educating the community on ways to support individuals in crisis.”

The planning team consisted of Becky Greer, director of WDCE for the Ashe Campus and the Alleghany Center; Caleb Marsh, dean of the Ashe Campus; Jamie Little, director of Student Services for Ashe County Schools; Elizabeth Kerley Dunbar, ASC Center Coordinator; and Regan Perry, Mountain View Elementary School Nurse.

Attendees heard from Dr. Yaros regarding trends in student well-being pre and post-pandemic; representatives from AppHealthCare on the proper use and value-added benefits of Narcan; the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department on potential warning signs of illegal drugs and risk behaviors, as well as safe medication storage; Dr. John Paul Jameson, Appalachian State University professor on Counseling Access to Lethal Means (CALM) and secure gun storage; Norma Bouchard from the Parent to Parent Network on caregiver support; and the retreat concluded with Tim Jones of AppHealthCare discussing personal resilience and anxiety management. Jamie Little, director of Student Services for Ashe County Schools and another of the event organizers, stated, “We appreciate the presenters taking time to share their expertise on the topics that are pressing in our community. Events like this prove why Ashe County is so special. The community sees a need and addresses it from all angles.”

Wilkes Community College and Ashe County Schools are committed to working with the community to promote health and wellness for all they serve. Dr. Caleb Marsh, dean of Ashe Campus for Wilkes Community College, concluded the retreat with a quote that reflects this commitment saying, “As you leave today, we charge you with but one task; please take care of yourselves and, if you can, someone else too.”

WCC and ACS would like to thank all partners, organizers, attendees, and presenters for their participation in the event.

Dr. Anna Yaros with RTI International, speaks on mental health issues in children, including risk and protective factors for a variety of risk behaviors.


Jeannie Berry AppHealthcare conducted Narcan training and current trends.


Dr. John Paul Jameson, Appalachian State University professor speaks on CALM (Counseling on Access to Lethal Means).