BRCO functions through the activities of seven committees whose members carry out the mission and vision of the organization.
Housed in the 1885 Bethel Presbyterian Church, BRCO accepts its preservation responsibility of enhancing the appearance of the 130 year old facility that serves as its community center. BRCO strives to preserve its historic building while also making historically appropriate upgrades.
BRCO supports local schools, other non-profits, and individuals-in-need through financial/utilities/humanitarian assistance. Projects have included vision and dental assistance, aid to families suffering flood damage, childrens’ Christmas funds, support for families who have suffered the loss of a child, and aid to children in transition who find themselves without permanent housing. The organization also provides limited funds to two local fire depatments and the sheriff’s department for specified projects.
BRCO supports the education of its citizens by featuring speakers who focus on interesting and relevant topics at the bi-monthly meetings. The organization has also provided speaker/programs for local educational efforts. Members regularly attend workshops and meetings to educate themselves about topics relevant to the organization’s mission. In addition, BRCO selects a graduating Pisgah High School senior to receive a scholarship.
BRCO partners with MANNA and other grocers to supply food products to families in need. Local churches provide financial support for the program. In addition, the organization affiliates with the Haywood County Senior Resource Center to educate food pantry recipients about available financial/humanitarian resources. Food Pantry distribution is the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
BRCO emphasizes the collection, documentation, and restoration of the architectural, cultural, and historical legacy of Bethel Community while simultaneously incorporating an educational component into its historic preservation efforts. Committee's effort, beginning in 2005, resulted in seven consecutive Cold Mountain Heritage Tours. The group has also produced six books, two DVDs, a CD, sixteen art prints, and four local historic markers as part of its mission to document and inform about Bethel history. The NC Society of Historians has awarded the Historic Preservation Committee and its members with three state history awards.
Race - Bethel 5K/Half Marathon
BRCO’s Half Marathon Race is the oldest half marathon in North Carolina (1994) and the third oldest in the Southeast. The event is affiliated with the Asheville Track Club’s Grand Prix. The race is USATF Certified, allowing a runner to set national time records on BRCO’s course which is considered one of the most scenic courses in the region. Race day is the second Saturday in October and is the primary fundraiser for the organization. The 5K has been a popular addition for approximately 15 years.
BRCO recognizes that the quality of rural life is preserved by retaining our farming heritage, promoting sustainable agriculture, protecting farmland, wild lands, and waterways while also educating farmers and residents. This focus has allowed BRCO to support continuation of the agrarian culture that has existed for over two thousand years in Bethel. The committee conceived of and continues to support the Haywood Advancement Foundation's Buy Haywood project that was designed to support local farmers by marketing local farm products, events, and activities with a 10,000 distribution Agri-Tourism map. The WNC Livestock Center, implemented by WNC Communities, owes conceptualization to BRCO's Rural Preservation Committee. BRCO has enrolled over 1,100 acres in the Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District and has assisted in placing 12 easements of 543 acres of land and several thousand feet of stream and river frontage in the Permanent Conservation Easement program.