Tellico Working Together gets creative

Tellico Working Together co-founders Dan Kuzdzal, left, and Randy Heiden discuss 2021 goals for the group.

Tellico Working Together already has sights set on helping the community more in 2021.

The group was created by Dan Kuzdzal, Kiwanis Club of Tellico Village secretary, and Randy Heiden, Tellico Village Lions Club director, after they saw Village organizations struggling to meet goals. They want organizations involved to help each other out physically and financially, Heiden said.

The biggest obstacle in 2020 involved determining ways to raise funds for supported causes due to the coronavirus and restrictions imposed by governing bodies, Kuzdzal said.

“I think the problem many of us are having is because of the pandemic and the restrictions, a lot of the things that we would normally do to raise funds and that would make us more active are going away,” Kuzdzal said. “For instance, like we always have two pancake breakfasts. Well, getting 800 people together, that’s probably going to cause some problems and things of that nature. The way we raise funds during this period of time is going to have to change.”

TWT is focusing on finding creative fundraising efforts to put into play for 2021. Kiwanis is considering hosting multiple car washes and has applied for a state gambling permit for a fundraiser later in the year.

The biggest goal for the year is getting Our PLACE operational, Kuzdzal said.

Heiden said even though the day center for adults affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia is the primary focus, other organizations haven’t been forgotten.

“We’re working real hard to get that done,” Heiden said. “First of all, they have more or less a time limit on theirs. You have something you’re building and blueprints and so on and so forth. You can’t just let it go forever. We’re not. It’s going quite quickly, and it helps all of the people in the community. They all get old like me. They need that help.

“We also want to continue to help all the 30 different organizations and the community as a whole,” he added. “There’s a whole lot here. They’re having the same problem we are is they can’t get together and do their fund drives and their way of getting money. What we hope to do and what we can do are almost two different things, but we’re going to try our hardest to get maximum funds.”

The organization wants to emphasize there are community partners outside Tellico Village.

Kuzdzal and Heiden recently met with Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw to present a list of what they saw as community needs and ask what Bradshaw thought was missing. Bradshaw was “very helpful” in giving a list of contacts of local organizations who need help, Kuzdzal said.

“Basically, a lot of things that we’re all focused on are kids, like the Family Resource Centers, (Child Advocacy Center), things of that nature, those are the big problems right now,” Kuzdzal said. “Some of the other problems are food distribution and things like that. We’re trying to communicate these things, and let’s say we have a successful distribution of food, we let everybody know how it worked, and if they’d like to do it, not saying they have to do what we’re doing, but if they’d like some help, let us know. We’re not trying to change what each club or organization is doing. We’re simply saying these are what the needs are, let’s all try to focus on them.”

The needs for Our PLACE have increased to $900,000 after building costs, including first-year operating expenses, went up, Jim Dezzutti, Our PLACE vice president, said.

Our PLACE must also come up with creative plans-of-action for fundraising.

“We definitely need the associations with Tellico Working Together to get to where we need to be, but we’re doing a virtual auction,” Dezzutti said. “We’re doing a chip and putt golf tournament I guess you’ll call it, which will be no more than two people at a given time out doing a little routine we’ve got set up at Toqua Golf Course. We’re looking at things like that to keep the fundraising going. Just staying out there in contact and talking with various groups and people will accelerate us to where we need to be, and these guys are a great conduit for that.”

Heiden emphasized the facility is a dire need for Tellico Village and surrounding communities.