The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted many businesses and organizations in Tellico Village over the last year, but one volunteer organization is prioritizing the need to spruce up the community.
The Timeless Tellico Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c) organization, has been instrumental in funding and overseeing various projects in partnership with the Tellico Village Property Owners Association and Tellico Village Recreation Department.
Despite the financial burdens placed on many due to COVID-19, TTF has continued to raise money to help enhance amenities and build new ones.
“I would say that it hasn’t affected us as far as people being willing to donate,” Pete Kilmartin, TTF treasurer, said. “The pickleball (PicklePlex) is the big project, but there’s a lot of other smaller projects. We’ve done some small projects, but mainly it’s been fundraising. We’ve been very gratified with a number of people who have our supported us.”
“We’re still in the infancy of the foundation and we’re just kicking off, but I’d say for 2020 that we were quite pleased,” Walt Cook, TTF chairman, added.
The foundation was started in December 2019 by POA Recreation Director Simon Bradbury as a means to fund facilities and programs for recreation not provided in the POA capital budget.
Projects last year included new benches around the Wellness Center, nature kiosks, walking trails and providing Wellness Center members unique rehabilitation services through Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinic.
The latest project involved incorporating a memorial plaque on the Jim Lilley Walking Trail behind the Wellness Center in honor of the former Tellico Village Recreation Advisory Committee chairman who passed away Oct. 3 following a biking accident.
The foundation is also spearheading the new indoor PicklePlex project at the Wellness Center, which will be broken into two major phases. Phase one is slated to begin in the spring, although a timeline has not yet been determined, Cook said.
“I think one thing that the pandemic caused in recreation was a focus on a lot more of outside activities,” Bill Butera, TTF member, said. “I think that the foundation has supercharged and enhanced those things by providing for things like the trail kiosks, outdoor benches, the swing that’s been installed up there on the hill outside the Wellness Center. Those are all related to outdoor activities.”
The foundation prides itself on being personable and working closely with residents in the Village.
Each project is only made possible by a Villager approaching the board with an idea for a new amenity or program. After discussion with the POA, the board then strings together a plan of action to make the project feasible and get started as soon as possible.
Kilmartin said the board is open to listen to all recommendations, but he encourages realistic proposals within means.
“We look for projects to come to us, but when we started we had kind of a list of ideas and directions that we wanted to go,” Gary Mulliner, TTF member, said. “One was benches all around the Wellness Center where people could purchase the benches and get names that are important to them, and we’ve also had all of the kiosks. We started those when our organization decided to fund a portion of those, and so we jumped in on that because it was something people were interested in. Simon talked to people and said, ‘Could you do this?’ We get together and say, ‘This is within our scope, our goals,’ and then we move on those. If it’s not, we say, ‘You need to find some other ways to do this’.”
TTF consists entirely of Village residents who want to help make a difference in the community.
“I think this property owners association is really unique in the way that it incorporates community interest into action,” Butera said. “They formed the foundation to allow them to supercharge that, knowing that they can’t build every project because they have to keep running the Village. They get it, and they care about what the people in the Village would like to have for buildings and programs and whatever. They created this foundation with the thought of, ‘We can take the input from the Villagers and actually put projects into the ground and programs into fruition.’ I’ve never seen a POA that operated that way where, really, the property owners have a tremendous say and influence in what actually happens here.”