Timeline and History


Over a number of years several initiatives with titles including Living Well and Aging in Place were attempted with the concept being similar in many respects to what the Wellness Collaborative is today. Individuals in the community including John Farris, Steve Brazen, and Kathy Ziegler were among those involved in investigating various initiatives. Other communities were researched in detail and various concepts including membership fees were discussed. For various reasons the various initiatives never gained enough “traction” to get off the ground.

In 2013 the HOA Board appointed a Strategic Planning Committee of the Board and this committee looked at numerous options for the future of the HOA. One of the recommendations of the committee was to re-visit the Living Well initiative and take a second look at ways to address related community wide needs and options. As a result in February of 2014 Phil Anderson and Jim Braley, both HOA Board members, were appointed by the HOA Board to co-chair a committee to composed of residents to look at various options and report back to the HOA Board no later than the May HOA Board meeting. The committee members appointed by Anderson and Braley included:

Sandi Smalley—POA Board
Dick Scharf—POA Board
Lamar Helms—Chapel
Rick Jones—Big Canoe Company
John Farris—community leader and contributor to previous study groups
Steve Brazen—community leader and contributor to previous study groups
Kathy Ziegler—community leader and contributor to previous study groups
Kim Cooper—Big Canoe HOA and Smoke Signals Staff

The committee met numerous times and at the April 15, 2014 HOA Board meeting the board approved the recommendation of the committee to create the Big Canoe Wellness Collaborative, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization to help provide Big Canoe residents with needed non-emergency and non medical wellness services. Numerous names for the organization were discussed by the committee and Phil Anderson suggested the adopted name.

The committee recommended to the board that an initial Board of seven directors be appointed by the HOA for three year staggered terms with 4 at large directors appointed by the HOA Board, one POA nominated director approved by the HOA Board, one Chapel nominated representative appointed by the HOA Board, and one Developer nominated representative appointed by the HOA Board. In addition it was recommended that the 501(c)(3) application process be initiated. The recommendations were approved by the HOA Board at the April 15 meeting.

The initial meeting of the Wellness Collaborative Board was June 19, 2014 with the following appointed members present: Steve Brazen, Lamar Helms, Kathy Ziegler, Rhonda Stock, Rick Jones, Jack Schroder, Phil Yeakel plus Jim Braley and Phil Anderson. Steve Brazen was elected President and Jim Braley had been appointed by the HOA as the liaison to the board.

The 501(c)(3) application process and IRS approval was completed in a very short period of time due to a new IRS expedited approval process which has since been discontinued. This application and approval process was completed by Jack Schroder and his Atlanta law firm.

Steve Brazen relocated to California in 2015 and Rhonda Stock succeeded him as President through December 2016 succeeded by Ken Nichols effective January 1, 2017. Rick Jones was replaced as the developer representative by Katie Wercholuk in 2015 and Judy Bellenger replaced Lamar Helms as the Chapel representative in 2016. In 2016 two additional board members were added namely Jeff Downing and Shiraz Alikhan.

Initial services of the Wellness Collaborative, initiated in 2015, were BC Rides, BC Meals, and BC Info with BC Visits added in 2016. It was also determined that initially services would be restricted to Big Canoe residents and their families. It is hoped the Collaborative will be able to expand its service area outside the gates of Big Canoe once logistical and administrative details are stabilized.

In 2016 two committees were added to the Wellness Collaborative. A fund raising committee, chaired by Jack Schroder, was established and had a very successful fund-raiser “Taste of the Mountains,” in November of 2016. A Community Center Committee was established to investigate options for a temporary center and to then determine the need and feasibility of developing a permanent free standing facility in the future.

The Wellness Collaborative has deliberately taken a slow growth stance and the services to date have been well received by the community thanks to a dedicated board, a very active steering committee and many community volunteers.

The Wellness Collaborative will continue to grow and add additional services as well as staff as the need arises and funds become available.

Dated 1/9/2017