In November’s meeting, Equitable Community Strategies Principal Mary Snow explains how to determine main issues during a root-cause analysis exercise.

During their November meeting, the Old Fort Community Forum dug deep to find out the root causes of health challenges in Old Fort and discussed their accomplishments over the past six months.

Since the Forum’s beginning in June, volunteers with the grassroots organization celebrated their successes with their coat drive, support of the women’s self defense class, support of the Clean Up Day in Old Fort, the street dance, a Trivia Night at Mr. Bob’s Donuts to raise money for the backpack program and the reinvigoration of the Old Fort Chamber of Commerce and partnership with the McDowell Chamber of Commerce.

For six months, the Forum has worked to address top priorities that were voted on by the public to include leadership, transportation, healthy living. The Forum also celebrated the largest attendance of any forum in McDowell County.

The purpose of the Old Fort Community Forum is to support community drive changes in the rural community of Old Fort. This project aims to model the success of the West Marion and Marion East community forums, where leaders are working together to strategize, share information and foster positive changes in their community. The forum is facilitated by the Community Engagement Project (CEP) which is a partnership between the McDowell County Health Coalition and McDowell Technical Community College, with generous support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

A large group discussion was held to develop new strategies and identify new partners to enhance the health of residents in Old Fort. From this conversation, Forum attendees discussed topics such as affordable housing and healthcare, lack of knowledge or resources, obesity, substance use disorders, isolation and perspective.

The Forum also discussed 2019 goals to include engaging local leadership to advance economic development, develop campaigns to increase voting, connecting residents to resources and working to reduce isolation.

A Community Forum Christmas Party is set for Saturday, Dec. 15 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Marion Community Building. Contact Ginger Webb at to RSVP.

For more information, visit Old Fort Community Forum on Facebook or email

Editor’s Note: Virginia Rhodes is a planning team member for the Old Fort Community Forum.

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