How Arrowmont Helps Wounded Veterans By Providing Scholarships

Hands crafting pottery

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is a bastion of artistic endeavor whose history outpaces even the tourist trade here in the Smoky Mountains. This Gatlinburg-based craft school has had its doors open to the public for more than 100 years, fostering growth in the community and facilitating the continuation of traditional arts. Last year, the school launched a new partnership with Project Healing Waters to provide scholarships to wounded returning veterans.

Jessica Callihan - Arrowmont scholarship recipient

Jessica Callihan, a veteran who was a recipient of the scholarship, builds her skills in a woodturning workshop. (photo from Arrowmont)

Building Scholarships for Returning Vets at Arrowmont

Scholarships for returning soldiers is nothing new at Arrowmont, but the new partnership with Project Healing Waters takes it to a new level. “We have a board member, Steve Gottlieb, who established a scholarship fund for returning soldiers,” said Fran Day, Development Director, “And, so, we have worked along with that for some time. Finally, we were able, through Market Merle Worsham, to connect with Project Healing Waters. We’ve given a number of scholarships. We proposed to [Project Healing Waters] that we provide scholarships for people who had been wounded during their service, and last year we did 12 of those.” Art Experiences Honoring the Service of Returning Soldiers is a scholarship program ]for returning soldiers who have been wounded or are facing the continued impact of their military service to attend Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. By attending the school, veterans build self-esteem, facilitate new ways of thinking, and even help soldiers embark on a new career path.

Project Healing Waters was the perfect partner for this sort of program. The organization is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and association activities including education and outings. The organization in well known in the Smoky Mountains region for the work they do throughout the country.



The Healing Power of Arts and Crafts

In order to fund their innovative scholarship program, Arrowmont turned to crowdfunding. “We ran a Crowdrise campaign around [the scholarship program] and were able to raise around $15,000. We’re getting ready to do another one, but the whole idea is getting people who are feeling the continuing impact of their service, to be able to do things that challenge them, and offering them an environment where they can succeed…It’s really amazing the difference that it makes when people can hold something in their hands that they create. It makes just an incredible difference.” said Fran. You can check out Arrowmont’s current Crowdrise campaign aimed at raising money for the next wave of wounded soldiers. If you’re passionate about the work, contributing is a huge help to the program. In fact, every $2,500 raised supports two returning soldiers to take a one or two-week workshop at Arrowmont.

Pens and Beyond class at Arrowmont

The entire Arrowmont community has rallied behind this program. This class, “Pens and Beyond,” taught by Don Ward and Cutis Seebeck, generously contributed $2000 toward the Art for Returning Soldiers Crowdrise campaign. (photo from Arrowmont)


Recent research has demonstrated the power of arts and crafts in alleviating the effects of PTSD for returning soldiers. Art therapy is an increasingly utilized tactic to help patients manage their symptoms and overcome the unseen scars of war. Art can help people express themselves unconsciously and process the meaning afterword, and the skills they gain through their education at Arrowmont can be directly applied to pursuing a career in the growing field of arts and crafts.

An Unforgettable Experience at Arrowmont

Soliders are nominated to receive the Arrowmont scholarship by Project Healing Waters, and if they are selected, they can apply their scholarship to learn any of the crafts offered at the school. “Woodturning, woodcarving, painting, metalworking, basket making. One guy brought the other day some of the baskets that he had made. Bookmaking, you know, just whatever we offer, they’re able to choose the class that they take,” said Fran.

woodturning at Arrowmont

Recipients of the scholarship can take any course at Arrowmont, such as woodturning. (photo from Arrowmont)


“They come, they stay on campus. If they have specific needs, just as we do with all of our students, we try to meet those specific needs. If somebody is in a wheelchair, we figure out how to get them to their classroom, we figure out how to get them back and forth, and if, for whatever reason, they have to have a private bathroom and bedroom because their state requires that…they may be wounded, or they may not be comfortable in the dorm rooming with other people, we meet those needs.” The soldiers are completely integrated into the Arrowmont experience from beginning to end, and exit the program with a workable skill that can be used for career development or just for enjoyment.

Arrowmont plans on continuing the program, and will continue to develop it. “Our goal is to try and grow this program. That’s one of the things that we’re doing, and hopefully we’re going to get to the point where we have a significant number of these returning veterans.” Through their partnership with Project Healing Waters and the assistance of everyday people through their crowdfunding campaign, this program will continue to expand to help more wounded veterans.

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