This is an organization that is so amazing words can not describe the benefits is has done for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over the many years we have been associated with The Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Inc, they have been as professional as forthright with the millions of dollars that have been donated to the park. They has used their funds to help establish the Trails Forever program which has provided for a permanent crew to work on the rehabilitation for various trails that have fallen into disarray of the many years of hard use and weathering. This program had a challenge grant to raise $2,000,000 which was matched by a local organization and the Friends turned this into reality.
Having visitor friendly trails has made the rehabilitated tails become safer and brought new visitors to the park as well. Further programs have been to establish new exhibits for the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side of the park near Cherokee, NC. The previous visitor center was very old and extremely small.
Each year the association coordinates the Evergreen Ball in Knoxville, TN to raise money for the park as well as holding other outside programs that do the same. There are days whereby volunteers take hikers on special trail hikes and this continues to support the efforts of the association to raise and make the hikers more aware of the park and their surroundings.
The staff of the association work endlessly to speak with individuals about their donations and the importance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You have never seen such passion and unselfish employees that continue to dedicate their time for one and only one reason, The Park.
As a final note of to show the associations dedication to the park, each August for over 20 years, the association has run a telethon on two television stations, one in Knoxville, TN and the other out of Asheville, NC. These stations dedicate one hour to the telethon and believe it or not, the telethon raises approximately $240,000 in very kind donations from individuals that all have the love for this park and the association's work for it.
If you believe in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you should become a member of the Friends.