The Purpose of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia
Established in 1989, incorporated as a A 501(c)3 nonprofit heritage organization in 1991, the vision of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA) is "Planting the seeds of heritage through the arts."  We accomplish this through the painting of historical regional murals, publishing local writers, bestowing Appalachian Studies scholarships, encouraging the youth to learn and play mountain music, and by recording oral history and storytelling through Stories of Mountain Folk. Winner of the 2013 Mountain Heritage Award.

The People
CSA Cofounders Amy Ammons

Garza, Mountain Storyteller,

and Doreyl Ammons Cain,

Visual Artist, a team known as

The Ammons Sisters, are

dedicated to reaching every

child they can with the message

that they are creative, can

achieve success and have the

heritage background that will

sustain them throughout their

lives.   The sisters are actively

promoting literacy and aware-

ness of self-worth in all children and adults.
      Performing stories of mountain heritage, Amy and Doreyl travel around the South entertaining as storytellers. Through the art of storytelling, the sisters want their audiences to experience tales of real adventures in the fertile forests of North Carolina. As Amy tells the stories, Doreyl captures them with her strokes of pastel art—bringing the story alive! While interlacing humorous family stories and rich local legends, Amy’s tales and Doreyl’s art lighten and speak to the heart. Also within the one hour performance will be dance, music, song & the entertaining Canhouse Band. 

 The CSA board of Directors
 A group of local people who believe in the mission of the organization and extend themselves, involving the goals of CSA into their private lives. Many members of the board have been with the organization many years:   Gail Stillwell Cooper,  Etheree Chancellor, Mary Jo Hooper Cobb,  Judy Rhodes,  Neal Hearn, Heather Gordon, Terry Michelsen, Betty Brown, Nicole Jarosinski, Nikki Henke , Sylvia Lyday-GoForth, Nita Owenby, Roy Owenby and Jenny Johnson.
      Regional Board of Advisors are Irene Hooper, Vera Holland Guise, Becky Nelson-Yandell, Dot Conner, Norma Clayton and Karen Branscome.

  • A  picture may be worth a thousand words, but when the picture and the words both unfold in real time, the story is complete. Amy Ammons Garza and Doreyl Ammons Cain come together to prove this via their unique multimedia show.  Amy tells stories of a hardscrabble life in mid-20th-century Appalachia while Doreyl spontaneously illustrates the tales with her signature pastel art. The sisters were born in rural Jackson County, WNC, while the country was in the midst of World War II—Amy in Tuckasegee, and, a year and some later, Doreyl, when the family was living in Little Canada, near Horseshoe Rock.
        The two girls and a younger brother, David, rarely ventured outside the Ammons family homestead and helped their parents and grandparents keep the family afloat. The men cut timber, worked on the railroad, and found odd jobs, while the children helped with gardening, picking berries and tending to livestock. 
        “With no neighbors, no electricity, and no running water in the house, we didn’t know we were poor,” says Amy. “Most children today don’t know about clothes made from feed sacks or can’t believe that we didn’t have electricity or a bathroom in the house....”  
  • Bold Life Magazine/February 2018/Norm Powers
    •     Life took my sister, brother and me away from our mountain home, but the mountains kept calling us back. When Doreyl and I returned home we wanted to reach as many rural children as possible with our message that everyone is wonderful and creative in their own way. We wanted to attempt to increase the self-worth of as many children as possible, beginning with the mountain children . . . children such as we were.
      •                                                                                                     —Amy Ammons Garza      

Mountain Storytelling & Spontaneous Visual Art in Sylva, NC

Winners of the 2013 Mountain Heritage Award

The Ammons Sisters,  Co-founders of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia

Mountain Heritage Award, September 28, 2013:  (l-r) Etheree Chancellor, Nicole Jarosinski Gunn, Kendra Coker, Gail Stillwell Cooper; Chancellor David Belcher; Gail Nolen (behind Amy); Amy Ammons Garza; Terry Michelsen (between Amy & Doreyl); Doreyl Ammons Cain, David Ammons, Judy Rhodes, Norma Clayton, Nicki Hinkke, Heather Gordon, Mary Jo Hooper Cobb.  Not shown: Betty Brown, Victoria A. Casey McDonald, Irene Hooper, Neal Hearn

A new book documenting  30 years of  storytelling and spontaneous art performance  by The Ammons Sisters  was published in May, 2020, by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia:  "Mountain Storytelling & Spontaneous Art".     Go too  to  purchase the book.