Rousing success

HICKORY — On April 24, over 200 hikers and volunteers took to the Catawba River Greenway in Morganton to raise awareness and funds for AIDS Leadership Foothills-area Alliance (ALFA), the area’s only HIV/AIDS care and prevention agency. The event exceeded $17,000 in funds raised through sponsorships and donations.

The Hike included a special welcome by Morganton area attorney Juleigh Sitton, who serves as the head of Gov. Perdue‘s western office. The keynote speaker was DW Bentley, an ALFA client who speaks up for early testing and positive lifestyle changes in combating the lasting effects of HIV. Also, prior to the Hike, Jo Jordan led yoga and health educators provided family friendly HIV education. The planning committee was composed of college students and instructors, business leaders and ALFA board members.

The money raised from Hike for Hope helps fund vital agency programs. “With the state AIDS Drug Assistances Program closed to new enrollees, we must find new funds to assist our clients in the region,” said Rodney Tucker, executive director of ALFA. “Hike for Hope was a great awareness event that brought new volunteers, donors and advocates for our cause.”

ALFA is working to maximize the use of volunteers and partnerships with other community organizations. ALFA has recently forged agreements with other nonprofits to provide volunteer HIV testers at non-traditional testing sites, increasing early HIV diagnosis and quick entry into treatment for area residents who test positive for the virus. Fundraising efforts focus on furthering the agency’s ability to expand its medical case management, outreach and volunteer programs.

ALFA serves Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, Watauga, and Wilkes counties.

For more information about ALFA’s services, call 828/322.1447 ext. 224, or email or visit

Shedding light

ASHEVILLE — Deborah Miles, founder of the Center for Diversity Education in the Intercultural Center at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, battles against prejudice and racism on a daily basis.

Her duties focus on all people feeling validated, whether it be on issues of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual identity, financial status, etc.

Although small in stature, her passion is unrelenting.

According to the Citizen-Times, her mother was an activist and her father, a United Methodist minister, was engaged in the Civil Rights Movement. “She was raised in an environment of inclusion and respect for other faiths and culture,” the article said.

Over the years since the Center was developed, she has been at the forefront of inclusivity in the Buncomb County area. From the educational sector to religious and beyond, her work has helped to shape changing attitudes.

During the month of May, “Loving Families Conversations with the GLBT Community in WNC” will be displayed at the Center at 114A Highsmith Student Union. It takes an intimate look at the joys and challenges of families in Asheville’s growing LGBT community and encourages citizens to explore the common ground shared by all families.

For more information, visit

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.