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The Evergreen Foundation will be hosting information sessions in each of the seven western counties for organizations interested in submitting a grant proposal. The Foundation will be accepting 2015 grant proposals through May 31 at 5 p.m.

The Evergreen Foundation’s focus is on improving the lives of individuals who have behavioral health, intellectual/ developmental disabilities, or substance abuse issues in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Grant priorities include proposals focusing on infrastructure of the private provider network; start up and service provision; scholarships to enhance the quality of the provider network; public awareness/education; and advocacy on behalf of consumers and the provider network. Prevention priorities for 2015 include suicide prevention and prescription drug over-dose prevention.

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Since birth, 23 year-old Erika Brooks has been destined for greatness. From proving her strength while fighting for her life at just a few days old, to showcasing her contagious kindness while being named Smoky Mountain High School's Homecoming Queen, everything Erika has done in her life has been exceptional, or as she would put it, "amazing," just like her. "I am amazing," Erika so often proclaims and rightfully so.

Erika only further solidified her already earned title of "amazing" when she recently beat out dozens of contestants to be crowned Junior Miss Amazing North Carolina.

Erika's mother, Pauletta Clark spoke of how the family prepared for Erika's stage debut.

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Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined – about one in every nine people in the world. While the majority of the world's hungry people live in developing countries, for 2013, FeedingAmerica.org reported that 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children.

While the national average for households in the United States classified as being food insecure sits at 14.6 percent, at 17.3 percent, North Carolina has the fifth highest food insecurity rate in the nation.

Locally, CareNet works year after year to build resources and access to tools to help fight hunger in Macon County.

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March designated Multiple Sclerosis Month.

March has served as National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month since 2003.

The local Love is in the Air 5K run to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research raised a rather healthy $7,000 to contribute to the efforts to eradicate this medical enigma. However, the more important story that arose that day was found in the lives of some of the remarkable people who are fighting their own personal battles with this debilitating disease.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system, the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The myelin sheath which surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers is eroded, which, in turn, breaks down the ability of the nerve cells to transmit signals. MS afflicts more than 400,000 people in the United States. Some of the common early symptoms include extreme fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, tingling or numbness, especially in the hands and feet.

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