John Armor
The $5,000 Pancake
By John Armor
Jun 13, 2010 - 7:59:59 AM

NORTH CAROLINA Saturday, a week ago, I had a $5,000 blueberry pancake.  Actually, I had two of them.  They were just as delicious as the ones I had last fall.  All of them were courtesy of the Scaly Mountain Women’s Club.

Scaly Mountain is an unincorporated community just down the Dillard Road from us, about 10 miles from the intersection of the North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia borders.  In the summer, Scaly Mountain swells to several thousands of people.  In the winter, it shrinks to a few hundred, but, there is never a shortage of fine people who willingly give their time, efforts and treasure for the benefit of others.

A lady whom we’ve met before, Kay Steele, was kind enough to tell us the history of the Women’s Club.  It began 22 years ago with just 14 members.  Now, it has grown to about 80 women.  This is the seventh year they have run their Pancake Breakfast at the Community Center (which used to be a church, and before that was a one-room school, but more about that later).

How cute, you say.  These nice ladies get together an cook up some pancakes.  These ladies with their various efforts have raised more than $100,000 in the last 10 years.  They have put all of that money into scholarships.  Last year they were supporting 10 local children with college scholarships.  They have five more in the pipeline that they want to help next year.  Under their current leaders, Karen Mans and Faye Bellwood, I’m sure they will make their newest goal.

Here’s what to expect if you venture up, or down, the Dillard Road on the fourth Saturday morning of every summer month.  The well-cared-for, white-painted plain board church is small, just 10 tables fit in its space.  Other tables are outside on its deck.  The ladies serve excellent blueberry pancakes ”“ plain ones if you prefer ”“ plus local sausage cooked just right, and coffee and orange juice.

They also serve up a diverse menu of guests.  Every single time that we’ve gone to the Scaly Breakfasts, we’ve met more people we’ve never seen before, from a variety of states and a variety of occupations, but all of whom enjoy good pancakes and worthy purposes.

I learned the history of the venerable building because Everett Miller was there.  He and his father went to school in that building.  And, they went there when they were too young to go inside.  When the adults were busy putting in the crops, tending them, and harvesting them, there was no one to spare to mind the youngest children.  They were brought to the outside of the school and asked to stay there and play quietly.  Presumably, they would be allowed inside if it started to rain.

The ladies have a cook book and a silent auction in addition to the pancake breakfasts.  The breakfasts cost just $5.50 each, so you can imagine how many they have to sell to make $5,000.  The cook book includes delicious old photographs and histories, as well as the recipes.

Is there a broader lesson in what these ladies are doing?

No bureaucrats are involved.  No salaries are involved.  The ladies even try to cover the costs of the food by having businesses put sponsor cards on each of the tables.  The idea is to turn what is paid at the door into pure “profits,” which is to say, pure scholarships for the young people.

Anyone anywhere in the United States can do exactly what the ladies of Scaly Mountain have done.  I don’t mean just pancakes, but if you do that, be sure to include blueberries.  What it takes is organization around a worthy purpose, and then the gumption to see it through until it becomes successful.

That is not complicated.  It’s not difficult, if you are willing to put one step after another toward your goal.  And, it is very, very satisfying to all people concerned.  As the saying goes, “Try it.  You’ll like it.”  I guarantee it.



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