Inspired to Serve: A Gift to Steadfast House

The Steadfast House murals by Scott Smith of Gigantic! are complete! Watch the last installment of our video journey to see how this gift is impacting the ladies and their children at Steadfast House.

To use your gifts to serve our neighbors in need, visit www.abccm.org/serve.

Thank you, Jason Garris, pastor of Highland Christian Church, for creating this incredible video series! If you haven't seen the earlier installments, check them out at the links below:

Video 1: https://youtu.be/FpP1VjT5k2s

Video 2: https://youtu.be/snxVRuZwe54

Inspired to Serve: Murals in the Making

As we continue the story of a volunteer's calling to benefit Steadfast House, we get a front row seat with a view of this artist's murals in the making! Watch the next video to hear the inspiring story of how the design of the murals came to light. We love how this volunteer is using his gifts to inspire and encourage the kids at Steadfast House.

If you missed the first installment, watch it at this link: https://bit.ly/2HFkBHR

God Provides An Oasis In The Desert

In the eleven months that he has spent at the VRQ, Dirk Moss has clearly seen how the ministry addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the Veterans involved.

Dirk is originally from Atlanta and served in the Army from 1989 to 1992, spending time in both El Paso, Texas, and Germany. After leaving the Army, however, Dirk entered a period of addiction, suffering from “spiritual maladies,” as he called them, as well as dependence upon drugs and alcohol. Dirk eventually checked into a VA hospital in Atlanta for treatment, and while he was there, he had a conversation that changed his life – but not in the way he expected.

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He and a friend were talking about programs for Veterans, and during their conversation, someone else in the room overheard them and suggested that Dirk should move to Asheville. The stranger didn’t mention the VRQ directly but rather praised Asheville’s beautiful mountains and unique culture. Dirk decided to give Asheville a try, and through God’s providence, he found the programs and stability he needed to make a full return to sobriety at the VRQ.

 “It was an oasis in the middle of the desert,” said Dirk about the home he found at the VRQ. “It’s amazing how God works.” Since moving into the VRQ, Dirk has made goals that he is striving to accomplish, and he said that God has actually accelerated his progress, helping him achieve more than he ever expected.

Beyond long-term sobriety, Dirk’s first goal was to strengthen his relationship with Christ, and now his faith has never been stronger. He also plans to attain stable housing, return to college, and permanently relocate to Asheville. “It’s amazing how God works,” said Dirk. “I’ve had a whole bunch of awakenings, and all of this has been happening at God’s pace, not my pace.”

Dirk knows that he has to trust God to lead him on the right path to recovery, and it will happen at the perfect time, according to God’s will. “As my grandmother used to say, ‘If God did everything all at once, you couldn’t stand it,’” said Dirk. It is clear that God used the events in Dirk’s life to lead him to the strong faith and restored health that he has today and that He used the VRQ to accomplish His purposes for Dirk.

Without the VRQ, many Veterans would be lost in the desert of addiction, PTSD, anger, and loneliness. Thanks to you, ABCCM is able to provide the oasis of stability, accountability, care, and respect that Veterans like Dirk deserve.

Testament of Service

Through Veterans Services of the Carolinas (VSC), and its NCServes–Western program, ABCCM is providing the essential support services and resources that Veterans need to get back on their feet and succeed in building healthy job, family, and life skills. This is clear in the story of Morris O’Garro, Jr., who was one of the first Veterans to be aided by the NCServes–Western program. Morris was referred to ABCCM by another organization and was subsequently helped by the Veterans Restoration Quarters (VRQ), VSC, and NC-Serves–Western.

Morris was given a bicycle so that he could travel to job interviews; provided with job search assistance and preparation; aided in attaining housing and VA benefits; and given the support he needed to rebuild his self-confidence and independence. Volunteers, staff members, and other Veterans have become a strong support system for Morris throughout his interactions with ABCCM’s ministries. Both the tangible services and the emotional support given by those at the VRQ and VSC have made Morris’ progress possible, and without both services and support working in tandem, neither would mean as much to Morris’ life.

“This is my family. I needed a support group,” said Morris. “I found part of my support group at ABCCM’s Veteran Restoration Quarters, I found another part at the Marine Corps League, but my heart is with Brandon, Emily, Jessica, and Andy [at VSC]. When I go up to that office, I get embraced. I get cared for. I get loved on. They’re interested in what I need in my life. They made me feel that being myself and being a Veteran was important to them. They also made me feel that I am important as a Veteran to myself and to others.”

 In this way, Morris feels called to introduce other Veterans to the programs and services provided by the VSC. He wants to lead his military brothers to the help they need, while giving them the chance to find the same family he’s found in the people he has met through ABCCM. Morris is also willing to share his story for the benefit of ABCCM, and specifically NCServes-Western.

“I am willing to do the things that I need to do for this group and other groups because they’re there to help me,” said Morris. As he continues on his journey, Morris knows that he can rely on his new support system, because they have stood beside him every step of the way.

“My journey is that I’m still in my journey,” said Morris. “I’m part of this living vessel and community. I’m proud to be a part of it, because they hold me accountable, and I’m okay with that because I hold them accountable. I’m willing to do that because I haven’t always been where I am today. A lot of times I’m just lost for words. I applaud you guys, because you’re doing a lot of things that other people wish they could do.”

Morris’ story is a testament to the importance of the services provided by ABCCM’s VSC and the NCServes–Western program. To help more Veterans like Morris, click here to give to programs that offer Veterans the honor and support they deserve. Thank you!

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Volunteering with a Purpose

When we consider how individuals are being equipped for life through the ministries of ABCCM, we typically first consider the impact on the lives of those in need. It is incredible to learn that the impact doesn’t begin and end with those in need.  Many ABCCM volunteers say they receive much more than they give when they serve through ABCCM.  Alayna Graves, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, is using her time and talents to bless ABCCM’s Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry while she prepares for her future career. 

Alayna is currently studying Sociology with plans to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work.  At the beginning of her sophomore year, during a community Day of Sharing, she worked at the Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry.  After that great experience, she began serving regularly as a volunteer counselor.  At the Crisis Ministry, Alayna gains skills to impact lives with short term solutions that make a long term difference.  She is diligent, intelligent, and has an infectiously upbeat demeanor, so she quickly became a valuable asset.

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As Alayna continued to spend more time volunteering, she thought it would be helpful for volunteers to have more detailed information about the services of other area nonprofits, since ABCCM works closely with other organizations and makes some referrals. She is constructing a referral guide, describing services of agencies and how we work together.  This resource tool will help volunteers to be more efficient and will be a great training tool for new volunteer counselors. She is also reorganizing and streamlining information for clients who come to the Ministry for help.  We are grateful for volunteers like Alayna who not only learn and grow in their own skills but also help us improve ours. 

“By having this resource available I feel that volunteers will be better able to assist clients, not just with their crisis situation, but also with a more long-term plan.” said Alayna.  “Having the opportunity to work with all the great people at ABCCM, while also working to enhance an already wonderful program, has made my time at ABCCM an incredible and enlightening experience.  I really appreciate having the opportunity to improve the lives of others while simultaneously learning something from each new person I interact with.  I look forward to continuing my work with ABCCM and applying what I’ve learned to my future in social work and non-profit work.”

“Alayna has been an absolute blessing for the Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry,” said Ian Williams, site coordinator for the Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry. “She is gaining valuable experience for her chosen path of social work by counseling clients and she provides our clients with compassionate, informed, well thought out guidance in order to mitigate their current crisis and help find a path towards self-sustainability.”

Alayna is using her God-given talents and personality to truly bless the clients, staff, and other volunteers of Hominy Valley.  She is also coordinating with other UNCA students and assisting them to learn more about volunteering at ABCCM.   This summer, Alayna is doing an internship at the ABCCM Servant Leadership Center, home of marketing, special events and the administrative offices of ABCCM.

Those of us at ABCCM are delighted that opportunities for people like Alayna are possible through your support of this ministry.  As you support the overall mission of ABCCM, you are opening up opportunities for others to serve and be served in the name of Christ.  Come join us as a volunteer and encourage your family and friends to serve with you.  For more detailed information about the many ministry opportunities available at ABCCM, click HERE.

Equip Our Neighbors

ABCCM is invested in the lives of those we serve. In addition to the short-term needs we fill through our Crisis Ministries, we also help people prepare for their futures in the long-term. Through life skills classes and Celebrate Recovery groups at the Veterans Restoration Quarters and Steadfast House, residents are given the training and encouragement they need to become self-sufficient. Through the vocational counseling, job search assistance, and housing stability services provided by Veterans Services of the Carolinas, Veterans and their families are supported and honored as they gain stability. Through the health education and preventative treatment provided by the Doctors’ Medical Clinic, clients are given the tools they need to stay healthy and avoid sickness. Through the Bible studies taught as part of our Jail Ministry, inmates are encouraged in their spiritual walks or shown Christ for the first time. In all of these efforts, our clients and residents are equipped with the tools and skills they need to achieve stability, success, and empowerment.

You can help us equip those in need in our community simply by volunteering your time. By teaching or mentoring residents, or just playing with the children at Steadfast House, you are helping the residents and clients build healthy job, family, and life skills for the future. To support the continuation of the programs listed above, please consider giving to one of our many ministries by clicking the button below.

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“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”

Hebrews 13: 20-21

Morgan's Journey

Steadfast House resident Morgan has faced darkness throughout her life, but through her perseverance and the support of Steadfast House volunteers, staff, and other residents, she is now embracing a bright future. 

Morgan first came to Steadfast House as a twelve-year-old, after relocating to Asheville with her abusive mother. Morgan’s home situation led her to a state of deep depression, and she knew that she needed to escape and find a new place to call home. She entered the Job Corps, a job training program for young adults ages 16-24, but she felt disconnected from others in the program and eventually left. Morgan then re-entered Steadfast House and found a safe place that she could call home – a place where she could rely on those around her and feel like there was stability in her life again.

Morgan then made the decision to go back to the Job Corps and restart her journey.

“I decided that I was going to do something in my life, no matter what,” said Morgan. “Now I’m going in to Job Corps and instead of just trying to find a way out, I want to do better.”

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Morgan initially went into the Job Corps to learn carpentry, but now she is going back to learn either computer technology or accounting. She will soon be joining the Job Corps program in Memphis, Tennessee.

Despite having struggled through times of darkness in order to get where she is today, Morgan said that she “wouldn’t take it back for anything.” She described a time when she had an opportunity to help a friend during a time of struggle.  Because of her own experience, she could truly empathize and encourage; and then realized there had been a reason.  “I thought, in that moment, ‘That’s why I went through what I went through,’” said Morgan. “Because if my story will help at least one person, that’s enough for me.”

She also noted that she feels a responsibility to spread the word about the hard issues of homelessness.

“I definitely have a voice – it aggravates people sometimes – but I honestly see it as a blessing, because there are some people out there that go through what I’ve been through, but they may not have the strength to talk about it,” said Morgan. She went on to explain that her experiences have led her to a place where she can share both her struggles and her victories, for the benefit of those around her.

Morgan is full of life and her sense of humor is infectious. She is constantly joking with her fellow housemates and bringing levity to their situation.

As she prepares to leave Steadfast House, Morgan is also preparing to leave the family she found there. She described becoming emotional when talking to the staff and residents of Steadfast House one night.

“I said, ‘I just want to let you guys know that you’re the family I never had,’” said Morgan. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s true! I came here with no family – well, I have a family, but it’s not the family I need. When I walked in here, I got six mother figures and grandmother figures. It’s a house full of women who have been mistreated and have never been taken care of, so we all kind of look out for each other.” All the church volunteers who bring home-cooked meals add to that feeling of home.

Morgan’s story shows the importance of family – even if that family isn’t biological. Through the support of Morgan’s friends and mentors at Steadfast House, Morgan has found the determination to continue her Job Corps training and the encouragement she needed to embrace her future – and to make it bright. Pray with us as Morgan embarks on this new adventure.

Jody Halsted's Story

At ABCCM’s most recent General Assembly meeting, longtime volunteer Jody Halsted shared about how God led her into a lifestyle of service through volunteering.

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Jody is currently in her first appointment as a pastor at two churches, Sardis United Methodist and Reeves Chapel United Methodist. Previously she worked as a registered nurse for 30 years. At that time, Jody wanted to volunteer, but she was living in a place where she felt isolated from her community and unable to find volunteer opportunities. However, after moving to Asheville, she quickly began volunteering at several nonprofit organizations throughout the area, including ABCCM’s Doctors’ Medical Clinic.

“I found a lot of ways I could do things for other people and meet the need within myself to volunteer,” said Jody. “I was ecstatic.”

Although she was enjoying her new volunteer opportunities, Jody still felt like something was missing from her life until she began volunteering at the Buncombe County Correctional Facility as a Bible Study leader through ABCCM’s Jail Ministry. Jody’s life began to change as she read Scripture, prayed, and worshiped with a group of female inmates each Thursday. She has now been volunteering at the correctional facility for ten years.

“I sit at the table with these women that I never would have met otherwise. Looking at their faces, I see the Divine. I know in that space, I am in the presence of the Holy Spirit,” said Jody. “In that space, in that room, I learn to teach, I learn to preach, I learn pray, I learn to sing. I learn how to accept from others, and I learn that it’s really not about what I’m doing for anybody. It’s really about what is being done for me and to me. And in that room, over the last ten years, I’ve been transformed.”

For the past six months, Jody has also been serving as the leader of a team of church volunteers who spend time with the children of Steadfast House every Monday night. She said that her group loves cuddling the babies, reading books to the toddlers, and generally enjoying the company of all the Steadfast House kids.

“Again, with those mothers and with those children, we see the Divine and we are changed,” said Jody. “It becomes less and less about what I can do for somebody else, and more and more about how the Holy Spirit is still molding me, still shaping me into this vessel that can be filled up and then poured out over and over again.  And that’s what we’re all here for, right?  Not just in this room, or in this county, but on this earth as part of God’s creation, so my life is changed. I’m so thankful for ABCCM.”

Jody’s enthusiasm was contagious as she shared with the attendees of General Assembly, and we hope you are inspired by her story as well. Click the links below to get involved in serving others through ABCCM’s ministries.

Lisa Pettus' Story

Lisa Pettus has been serving faithfully as a receptionist at the front desk of ABCCM’s Cumberland Crisis Ministry for the past six years.  During a recent ABCCM General Assembly meeting, Lisa shared how God led her to serve in this ministry.  She said serving has touched not only those in need, but has impacted her even more. Lisa’s tenderness, compassion, and joy were a blessing to each of those in the room that evening.  We invite you to read her story as we celebrate volunteerism together!

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“I’m Lisa Pettus, and I go to Central United Methodist.  I grew up in this great city of Asheville; but when my husband and I married, we moved away in 1975.  We settled in the eastern part of the state for all of our career and child raising years, but my husband, who’s not originally from Asheville, always promised to bring me back to the mountains. And he was true to his promise.

We’ve lived a pretty blessed life, but not without sufferings. We’ve had our share: cancer, addiction, dementia with both our moms, lost our parents. You know, none of us are immune to suffering; we may not be homeless, but we all have our sufferings. By the time we were in our mid-thirties, God had picked us up and put us back together. We knew that He had called us to take those sufferings and those gifts and use them to help others.

At the time, though, we were trapped.  We had our careers, we were raising our kids, and we were busy, but that calling remained.  On every vacation we went on mission trips, we worked at our churches, and did whatever we could to share God’s love with others. It’s like the nineteenth-century missionary to China said about sufferings; ‘To abide in Christ is to allow God to use our unavoidable suffering to make us humble and draw us closer to Him.’ That’s what it did for us. I had this overwhelming spring of love that I just wanted to share. It’s like the Living Bible says in Isaiah 58: ‘Feed the hungry, help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too. And you will be like a well-watered garden, like an overflowing stream.’ That’s what I long to be.

In 2011, praise God, I retired and George brought me back to the mountains. I sat on my porch in Weaverville and said, ‘What am I going do with my life?’ But instead of writing that page out, I said, ‘God, you write it. Take this pen and write it.’ You’ll be surprised if you pray those prayers!

Our daughter was the volunteer coordinator at Urban Ministries in Raleigh at the time. I went to visit her for a week and I was going to toddle around the malls when I got this phone call from her. She said, ‘Mom! Our receptionist didn’t come in! You’ve got to come and fill in for her!’ And I was like, ‘Okay!’ It’s definitely a role reversal when your kids are your teachers! I had the best time of my life volunteering – the most fulfilling day I think I’ve ever had!

When I got back to Buncombe County, I googled ‘Crisis Ministries Asheville.’ See, I left Asheville before ABCCM was here, so I had no idea about it. Being raised in a small town east of Raleigh, we had no crisis ministries. I had no idea, so that’s how I found my way to Sheryl Olsen and 24 Cumberland Avenue where I’ve been for the past six years, volunteering as the receptionist at the front desk.

I have to tell you that God has put me where I need to be – right on the front lines!  I mean, I don’t have to deal with computers, I don’t have to talk about policies or business plans – I can just be love to others. People come in and they’re angry, they’re hungry, they’re cold, they’re scared.  You can reach across the counter with just an encouraging word, a smile, some dignity, and it goes a long way. 

It becomes like a family with ABCCM too, because the staff are so fun to work with.  I know they get tired of supervising us yahoos that come in and out and don’t know what we’re doing, but they love us and we love them.  All of the volunteers are on a mission together, and the clients are like family too…

My husband and I drive downtown and we see our friends on the streets.  We’re burdened because they’re there, but we’re happy to see that they’re okay!  …We know that ABCCM is there for them…and it’s just like a big family. 

Sometimes I wonder, ‘What would these people do if ABCCM wasn’t here?’  What about those families with five kids that are at poverty level?  They can’t feed their children and keep their homes warm if not for ABCCM, their staff, and the money that the churches give. 

ABCCM has a wonderful mission, and I know that Jesus is proud because in 1 Peter it says, ‘Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.’  That’s what ABCCM does.  Jesus said to feed the hungry, care for those widows, and visit the people that are in prison.  Praise to God that this ministry is here, not only for those who are in need but – I love being there.  I would pay to go and volunteer.”

Lisa Pettus

Students Gain Valuable Experience at Medical Ministry

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Like the volunteers in ABCCM’s other ministries, those who serve at the Medical Ministry come from many walks of life. Many are church members who feel blessed to care for their neighbors in need. Others are retired community members who want to make a difference with their free time. Some are medical professionals who seek to address the need among the uninsured in Buncombe County, including the 30 percent of uninsured who received services at ABCCM in 2016.

One evening a month, the Medical Ministry is filled with a different population – students from A-B Tech’s nursing program, UNC’s School of Medicine, and UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Asheville. ABCCM enjoys having these doctors, nurses and pharmacists in training on hand to learn new skills, share information and work with an underserved population.

“Something that students don’t get a lot of exposure to is interacting with other professionals,” said Nita Kirkpatrick, associate chair of nursing at A-B Tech. “We just don’t have that opportunity anywhere else until they’re out practicing and then it’s like, here, OK, everyone needs to learn to work together!  This gives them a chance to practice that. Here, they’re all students and they respect each other. Then they get out and practice, and see these folks again.”

Students work together as a team of three – one medical student, one nursing student, and one pharmacy student – to visit the patient together and evaluate needs, care and treatment. Each group of students has their preceptor on hand to supervise.

“We don’t typically work with other students and we barely interact with pharmacy and nursing students,” said third-year medical school student Parin Nanavati. “It feels really collaborative to ask a fellow student why one thing might work better than something else, going back to what we’ve learned in school and applying it.”

Third-year medical school student Molly Duffy said the experience of working with the Medical Ministry’s patients recalls, for her, the time she spent as an AmeriCorps member working in community health. Service at the Medical Ministry also drives home the importance of learning how to be resourceful when access to certain medications or diagnostic tests is limited.

“It’s really important to learn how to use the resources in our community for people who are uninsured or don’t have good insurance, which is learning that is so valuable for us,” she said.

Nita Kirkpatrick said sometimes, the young people aren’t only students at the Medical Ministry – they’re also patients.

“Many times the students utilize it themselves,” she said. “Oftentimes they’re under insured or don’t have insurance.”

ABCCM could not serve the population it does without volunteers such as these students, who bring enthusiasm and interest to their clinic night each month. The students know their volunteer service helps patients in the long term and not just as a temporary patch.

“We’re so grateful to have churches do so much wonderful volunteer work, and here at the Medical Ministry we’re also grateful to have these students, too,” said Maia Price, the Medical Ministry volunteer coordinator.

Do you have a team that would like to volunteer at the Medical Ministry? Contact Maia Price at maia.price@abccm.org or call (828) 398-6690 to learn about how volunteers provide crucial support for ABCCM’s services for the medically uninsured.

 

Steadfast House Focusing on Trauma-Informed Care

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Survey the women living at ABCCM’s Steadfast House, and you’ll find that around 50 percent are survivors of domestic violence. It’s likely that most, if not all, have observed violence in their lives at some point. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children in the United States, and a lack of affordable housing options is regularly reported by survivors as a primary barrier to escaping abuse, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the country. The staff and volunteers at Steadfast House for women and children are always focused on giving the residents access to programs that help address the trauma they’ve experienced. This year, Steadfast House volunteers have been at the forefront of bringing the concept of trauma-informed care to the 43 women and children undergoing their transformation there.

 “We have been making a concerted effort to become a facility that operates from an understanding of trauma-informed care,” said Steadfast House Director Angela Catania. “By providing a safe and welcoming environment, we can continue to work with our women to help move them from a place of hopelessness to a place of self-sufficiency and independence.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, trauma-informed care “organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.”

Steadfast House volunteers recently started a program called Steadfast Partners, which seeks to bring trauma-informed care to the level of the facility’s youngest residents. The program works to mitigate the effects of trauma by engaging families and providing a safe space for children to play, learn, grow and be encouraged by caring adults. Volunteers are consciously paired with a child in the program with whom they will be a supportive, caring, encouraging, patient, safe and consistent partner each week. Volunteers went through a day-long training session that included a discussion of trauma-informed care and how it can make a difference.

Volunteers from BB&T’s Lighthouse Project spent part of a service day painting the Steadfast House educational playroom a gentle pastel blue, which is considered calming for those dealing with trauma. A few weeks later, volunteers from Lowe have painted the hallways in similarly toned colors. Trauma-informed care colors are also planned for Transformation Village, ABCCM’s vision for ending homelessness for women and children.

“We want to make sure our environment is one of calmness and therapeutic support,” Angela Catania said. “One of the ways Steadfast House can achieve this goal is through painting our facility with trauma-informed care colors.”

Steadfast House recently introduced a volunteer-led course called Poetry of Transformation, taught by Mary Ellen Lough-Phillips, who is a Poetry as Medicine facilitator. The course will cover the basics of poetry and allow residents to share their stories with others in a safe place. It will also teach mindfulness techniques to help residents better relate to their lives.

In 2016, nearly 77 percent of Steadfast House residents who successfully completed the program remained stably housed following their exit. We know those numbers will remain strong in 2017 with the trauma-informed care approach to help support our women and children.

How can you get involved with helping transform lives at Steadfast House? Call (828) 398-6985 to speak with the Steadfast House volunteer coordinator.

 A BB&T Lighthouse volunteer takes a break while painting the educational playroom at Steadfast House. The blue paint color was chosen specifically according to principles of trauma-informed care.

A BB&T Lighthouse volunteer takes a break while painting the educational playroom at Steadfast House. The blue paint color was chosen specifically according to principles of trauma-informed care.

Cleaning Out Your Closet?

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As this warm fall weather starts to turn cold, many of us turn over our closets – from shorts to pants, golf shirts to sweaters, light cardigans to lined jackets. While doing that this fall, please remember our neighbors in need! ABCCM’s Crisis Ministries are especially in need of men’s clothing and other items. Whether it’s a pair of lightly worn boots that never really fit, a heavy jacket that’s gotten a bit too small, or a shirt that hasn’t been worn in years, a Crisis Ministry client can surely make use of a donated item.

ABCCM is in need of men’s items such as:

  • Suits, blazers, slacks, button-down shirts, ties and other items for men going on job interviews
  • Lined pants, jeans, flannel or warmer shirts, thicker socks and sturdy boots and shoes for those working outdoor jobs
  • Work boots, dressier shoes and heavy-duty sneakers in all sizes
  • Coats, gloves, hats, scarves and other cold weather accessories
  • Underwear, undershirts and socks

ABCCM is always in need of blankets, coats, shoes, furniture, household items, and clothes and other accessories for women and children. Donations may be dropped off at any Crisis Ministry location including:

Downtown Crisis Ministry
24 Cumberland Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
828-259-5300 (P)
M-F 8:30am-4:30pm
crisis@abccm.org

South Crisis Ministry
10 Buck Shoals Rd., Arden, NC 28704
828-259-5302 (P)
M-F 8:30am-4:30pm
crisis@abccm.org

Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry
1914 Smoky Park Hwy., Candler, NC 28715
828-259-5301 (P)
M-F 8:30am-4:30pm
crisis@abccm.org

North Samaritan Crisis Ministry
403 Weaverville Hwy., Weaverville, NC 28787
828-259-5303 (P)
M-F 10:00am-2:00pm
crisis@abccm.org

Donations may also be dropped off at the Veterans Restoration Quarters:
1329 Tunnel Rd., Asheville, NC 28805
828-259-5333 (P)
Open 24 hours
vrq@abccm.org

Large items such as furniture can be picked up at your home or business! Call 828-259-5322 to schedule a pickup. Thank you for blessing our neighbors in need with your donations!

Trust and Care in All Seasons

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There is a time and season for every purpose under heaven.           Ecclesiastes 3:1

This past month has seen our nation and our neighbors face overwhelming calamity and crisis. I think that every church has responded with materials and funds to help with the relief effort. Shirley and I have contributed as well. 

This last Sunday, we were singing about Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. The verse “Safe and secure from all alarms” has replayed itself in my thoughts over and over – knowing and believing that God is reminding us to trust in Him and to care for one another. Even though they tell us every year that this is hurricane season, none of us could have expected to see so many millions of lives impacted with the three hurricanes thus far.

Isn’t it good to know who to call when crisis hits? When my mother had a medical crisis in the middle of the night, she knew to call on EMS. (She graciously waited until daylight to inform all her children.) When people are sick and uninsured, the churches and the working poor know they can call on the ABCCM Medical Ministry at 155 Livingston St. We will see about 100 more patients than normal this month because of the allergies and other crud that seems to be going around about a month earlier than usual. Those seeking to bridge the gap for their medicines can get them at no charge at ABCCM's pharmacy. We thank God that the churches saw a season when their neighbors with no insurance might need the help and the right treatment plan to stay on the job – and provided for the clinic. 

When a couple of young moms showed up from Florida during Hurricane Irma, we were thankful that the churches had created Steadfast House and the Veterans' Restoration Quarters to care for the homeless. Steadfast House has added a permanent family room for emergencies, not only for a hurricane, but throughout the upcoming winter months. Being able to take in a mom and her child until we can find a more permanent place for them is part of why we are here. We have just celebrated with a mom and three children moving in to their new apartment. The four month old twins immediately seemed right at home. She said she had been a little afraid of leaving our community until one of the volunteers said that her church would continue to be a part of her life. Several veterans have also moved successfully into their new homes. Each of these persons is reaping the fruit of their labor by acquiring new skills, good jobs and being able to save enough money to have a home of their own.

Our Crisis Ministries saw 60 new families in just one week at the end of September. It seems that some of our local businesses have been cutting back hours earlier than anticipated.  Some of our frail elderly have already been looking for heating assistance in preparation for winter during those early chilly nights. Many of our elderly only need help with half, or less, of the oil bill because they have been saving to fill their tanks. Others need help with preventing evictions or keeping the lights on. We are thankful that across the county, the churches had the foresight to have warehouses of food and clothes, along with household items and furniture to help those in a crisis who need a little help from their friends. The Crisis Ministries helped five different families driven from their homes by the hurricanes. We helped with gas for transportation as well as additional clothes and hygiene items. It’s the little things that folks forget, or don’t have the time to grab, that they miss the most. Thank you to our volunteers and churches for providing not only the little things, but the big things that bridge the gap. 

Every fall season, we are amazed at the wide array of colors. When God spoke to Isaiah, He said that He would give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. We thank God for every volunteer missionary from every church and corner of our community who say to people who are struggling that God loves them and cares for them. We thank God that in seasons of affliction, He shows up in the miracle of caring, through His children in their acts of kindness. Please take time to read through this newsletter and listen to God’s still small voice nudging you to come and to care for your neighbors in need through one of these ministries.

Reverend Scott Rogers
Executive Director

Jessica's Story

ABCCM's impact spreads far and wide in our community as we fill the gap for our neighbors in need through our Crisis Ministry, Medical Ministry, Homeless Services Ministry, Jail Ministry and Veterans Services of the Carolinas. One in six Buncombe County residents are touched each year through one of our ministries with assistance such as funds to offset a utility bill, a dental extraction, a warm jacket for a child, shelter during a period of homelessness, training and education support for veterans, or a shoulder to lean on during a jail incarceration.

The impact of ABCCM's services can be seen in the story of one woman, Asheville resident Jessica Shepard. Jessica first came into contact with ABCCM Jail Ministry volunteers in the Buncombe County Detention Center. She later was a resident of Steadfast House for women and children, and was able to receive treatment at the Medical Ministry. The services and programs in those ministries transformed her life. Jessica is now stable and thriving.

Watch the video below to learn more about Jessica's story and the volunteers who shaped her transformation. There are more than 300 women and children on the waiting list for Steadfast House who are just like Jessica -- ready to undergo their own transformation.  Click here to learn more about Transformation Village, ABCCM's vision to end homelessness for women, children and families in Buncombe County.

 

 

 

The Power of Music and the VRQ

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Alex Watson, a resident of the Veterans Restoration Quarters, shared with us the path he has been on as he moves from homelessness to hopefulness and stability, including the support and strength he has found at the VRQ. 

I have always been able to find refuge and restoration in music. It's my therapy. There is safety and freedom from discrimination in the arts. This is where I find peace. My name is Alex Watson and I’m a concert pianist and resident of the Veteran's Restoration Quarters (VRQ).

A big part of my story since leaving the U.S. Navy in 2012 has been coping with depression. I had trouble adapting to find a career that suited my strengths and skills. I also struggled to develop a sense of comradery with my community that supported healthy living. I really felt like I had little purpose in life.

Since I was a child, I had a great interest in music. I began taking piano lessons at the age of 5 and continued to study, eventually graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. My next step was joining the U.S. Navy as a keyboard instrumentalist. I was stationed in San Diego and my job was to represent the military by performing music in authorized Navy Bands. We were the soft end of the sword but it wasn’t easy. A lot of my time in the Navy was spent on the roads touring southwestern states to encourage young people to consider enlisting in the military.

By performing at ceremonies on military bases, we were tasked to uplift the spirits of sailors returning home. I truly loved my job in the military but never knew why I was so unhappy all of the time.

In 2011 I was diagnosed with depression and thought it was something everyone experienced and I just had to get over it and move on. Since my diagnosis I never took the time to evaluate how my own self care was affecting my mental health. I resisted seeking help from mental health professionals. In 2016 I moved to Asheville to start a journey of recovery and restoration.

The VRQ was a perfect resource for me to take the time needed to heal and learn to cope with the symptoms of depression. I was able to work closely with health care providers at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville to actively address my mental well-being and find ways to seek a career path that was rewarding to me.

Angela Catania and Whitney Gray were assigned to be my case workers at the VRQ. They took time to help me set goals such as financial planning and forming social networks to support mental health. I was provided the opportunity to gain additional employment training. But most importantly, I connected with other veterans who shared my story. As a former military service member, getting along with people from all walks of life is not a new thing. I feel like the other residents are my family that I can count on for encouragement. I can't help but walk through the VRQ and be welcomed by a chorus of “Good morning, how have you been?” from fellow residents. Today I feel like a whole person and someone who is contributing greatly to society.

My restoration expanded beyond the walls of the VRQ when I entered the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Competition in February 2017. I was able to find affirmation in my achievements as a piano performer by winning the first place Gold Medal for three solo piano divisions in the national competition. I have been invited to travel at the end of October to Buffalo, N.Y., through a grant and perform one of my winning piano pieces in a festival concert. This festival helps showcase how music and the arts can help veterans connect and cope with the challenges of everyday life after military service.

Although I had no job when I moved into the VRQ, I was able to gain meaningful employment as a piano instructor. After taking the A-B Tech Continuing Education Culinary Courses offered by Chef Eric Cox at the VRQ I was referred to a local restaurant in Asheville.

The support at the VRQ has helped me sustain these jobs and I am a part of an even greater network of altruism than what I could possibly do alone. The piano studio where I work provides scholarships to students who are unable to afford piano lessons. The instructors perform benefit concerts several times a year to raise money for these scholarships. Happy Jacks, the restaurant where I work, has its own charity called Kevi Bear Kids, which raises money to donate soccer balls to young people with needs in Ecuador. The owners, Kevin and Betty Lee, express that giving a soccer ball to a kid can help them be distracted from hunger and poverty. It feels incredibly rewarding to work for businesses that generously share resources with others. I'm proud to be a part of local organizations that help thousands of people each year.

Before I was able to help others, I had to help myself. The VRQ provided me with this important part in my restoration and now I’m able to give back. My goal is to host a solo piano holiday benefit concert to raise money for the ABCCM’s VRQ, veterans in need of transitional housing and employment skill training, and to support the recording of a sacred solo piano album. I’ve been blessed with a talent and training as a piano performer, now it’s time to use my skills to help others.

The benefit concert will be Saturday, December 2, 5pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in downtown Asheville. The suggested donation is $20. More info can be found online at www.AlexWatsonPiano.com.

I'm proud to be a veteran but equally honored to have the opportunity to share the peace I find in music with others. Music provides me with healing and as I continue to spread my roots in the Asheville music community I hope to show my appreciation for the resources for veterans and my family at the VRQ.

VRQ residents like Alex are working every day with our volunteers, churches and community partners to transform their lives. To learn more, volunteer or donate, go to www.abccm.org/veterans-restoration-quarters or call (828) 259-5300.
 

Fitting in and Feeling Called to Serve

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Linda Hicks usually volunteers every Tuesday at the ABCCM Medical Ministry. During the middle of September, however, she was at the Livingston Street clinic nearly every day.

“Normally I’m just here one day a week, but I’m working on a special project right now,” Linda said with a smile during a break from reorganizing medical files. “My parents, who live with me, were surprised that I came in on a day that wasn’t Tuesday, but they know I need my volunteering. When you get to help people and see the need, you feel compelled to do as much as you can for them.”

Linda has been serving at the Medical Ministry for nearly two years. She does a lot of behind-the-scenes work in data entry and filing, and also meets with patients when they first come into the clinic. Data entry and filing are critical to the clinic’s function, but volunteers such as Linda have the biggest impact when they are sitting across from those desperately in need of health care.

“You just feel for them,” she says. “I can’t help them medically, but I try to pick them up because they’re in a tough situation. In my heart I pray for them, because some of them come in with very sad stories.”

Linda is able to have compassion for patients because she loves volunteering at the clinic. Linda spent 25 years working for Aramark, a service company in the areas of food, facilities management and uniforms. As a housekeeping and laundry manager, she spent a lot of time in hospitals and enjoyed being in health-care settings. But moving around to seven different states during her employment meant she wasn’t always making strong connections with her work family.

When Linda retired in 2013, she took training classes at Goodwill including an electronic medical records course. During one of the classes, a Medical Ministry volunteer coordinator visited to speak about volunteer opportunities. Linda signed up as a volunteer.

“At the time I felt like I needed to do something else and when that door opened, I was led by the Lord,” Linda says. “After working so many years, this is the best job I’ve had.  I never really fit in anywhere until I came here, because this feels like family. You’ve got to love what you’re doing to do it effectively, is what it comes down to. If you do that, it will overflow to the people we serve.”

Let your love overflow to those we serve in ABCCM’s Medical Ministry! The clinic needs volunteer medical and dental providers, nurses, pharmacists and technicians, receptionists and clerical workers. Contact Maia Price, the Medical Ministry volunteer coordinator, at maia.price@abccm.org or call (828) 398-6690.

The Impact of NCServes-Western

How has ABCCM's service coordination for veterans had an impact on our community? Read more below to learn about what NCServes-Western can do for Western North Carolina!

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More Than Just a Bike
NCServes-Western Care Coordinator Emily Wheeler was introduced to Marine Veteran Roy Langford through network partner United Way. In their first interview, Emily was able to identify that many services, such as VA benefits, food, and money management skills could be addressed through a coordinated effort. She successfully linked Mr. Langford to appropriate providers in the community, including the Buncombe County Veterans Office, OnTrack Financial and ABCCM Crisis Ministry.  In addition to food and clothing, the Crisis Ministry provided Mr. Langford a new Roadmaster bike with a helmet to assist him with transportation around Asheville. We’re thrilled that ABCCM was able to provide a community effort and service coordination at its best!
Brandon Wilson
Network Director,  NCServes-Western

 

 

 

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Family Receives Medals
During the soft launch of our NCServes-Western network, I had the opportunity as a new team member to be an integral part of a referral that resulted in a heartfelt and meaningful service from one of our providers.  Waynesville resident Jane Bowman contacted the network call center with a special request for the family of her brother, Charles Everette Rector. Although the family knew he had served in the U.S. Navy, they did not know much about his service or what honors he may have earned. Through the NCServes-Western coordination center and the efforts of the Marine Corps League Asheville Detachment 1417, one of our network providers – the accomplishments of Senior Chief Rector during his 26-year career in the Navy are now commemorated in a beautiful shadow box filled with his eight medals. Larry Thornton of the Marine Corps League Asheville Detachment presented the shadow box to Ms. Bowman and the Rector family on July 21. With a tear in her eye, Mrs. Bowman told stories of Senior Chief Rector and his love of sports, his community and the U.S. Navy, and she assured us the shadowbox  is something that the family will cherish, appreciate and display for generations.
Jessica Rice
NCServes-Western Intake Specialist

Crisis Ministry an 'Amazing Opportunity' for High Schoolers

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As local students return to school, the Crisis Ministry looks back fondly on this summer, during which we were blessed with two students from the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) program. Lisi Pena and Sheila Perez, who are juniors this year at Asheville High, spent several weeks volunteering in various roles in our downtown Crisis Ministry at 24 Cumberland Avenue.

The girls volunteered at the reception desk, packed food boxes, organized the pantry, served lunch and helped in other ways. They also shadowed the Crisis Ministry counselors during meetings with clients in need. Sheila and Lisi also toured ABCCM’s Crisis Ministry sites in Arden and Candler to see the Ministry’s impact on so much of the entire county.

“For me, being here has helped me understand [the clients’] situations and how they relate to my situation,” Lisi said. “In my family, we didn’t have anything and had to really work for what we have. So when I see these people come in, I think about putting my best foot forward and helping them, too. It makes you appreciate what you have.”

As part of the CAYLA program, the students are required to report for a certain number of hours each week, must be on time, and also participate in workshops for which they receive an hourly wage for attendance from the program. CAYLA is a partnership with the Asheville City Schools Foundation and is supported in part by Buncombe County. In order to participate, students must fill out an application form, write essays, and undergo an interview.

“Overall the program just gives you experience as if it was an actual job and what you’re going to be doing in real life,” Sheila said. “You have to take it seriously.”

Students also receive scholarship funds for college through the program.

If the girls choose to participate in CAYLA again next summer they will be placed at a different agency because the program encourages participants to have a variety of experiences each year. However, both Sheila and Lisi said they would like to continue volunteering at the Crisis Ministry on their own.

“[Crisis Ministry Assistant Director Aaron Schnurbusch] told me to just come – there’s always something for you to do here,” Sheila said. “It’s nice to hear that. It’s been an amazing opportunity.”

Would you like to learn how you too can have an “amazing opportunity” volunteering at the Crisis Ministry? Call (828) 259-5300 or email volunteer@abccm.org to learn more!

Mahogany and Her Son Find a Place to Rest Their Heads

Mahogany and her 1-year-old son Daniel had been bouncing between hotels and shelter programs, and the homes of friends and family. But with winter approaching, Mahogany knew things couldn’t go on that way.

“I knew I needed somewhere for my baby to rest his head,” she says. “I needed to get into a transitional program where I didn’t have to worry about leaving and being out in the cold with my baby at 6 a.m. It’s a very bad feeling to not have somewhere stable for him. It was at that point where I got tired of going from place to place.”

Mahogany and Daniel were on the Steadfast House waiting list for four months before space opened up.  They settled in and began working on a plan with their case manager. Mahogany has an associate’s degree in early childhood, but assault charges on her record have made it unlikely she would find employment in that field. Her case manager brought up ABCCM’s culinary program with A-B Tech. Mahogany loves to cook – in fact, she has prepared dinner several times for her housemates – and she signed up.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m ready to be walking around with my book and my chef’s knives every day,” said Mahogany, who spent her teenage years in the foster care system. “I am proud of myself, and here, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a while. I have people who support me and they’re happy for me and in my corner.”

Funding for civilian women such as Mahogany to participate in employment training programs like the culinary training program has been supported by the Walmart Foundation, which recently recognized the work being done at Steadfast House to help our women on the road to self-sustainability.

ABCCM was recently named the recipient of a $50,000 state grant from the Walmart Foundation and the North Carolina State Giving Advisory Council through the State Giving Program.

This funding has allowed ABCCM to expand the Transitional Workforce Investment Program (TWIP) already in place for male veterans at our Veterans Restoration Quarters, female veterans at Steadfast House, and veterans served through our Veterans Services of the Carolinas (VSC). The expanded program will now include around 50 civilians, most of whom are female civilian residents of Steadfast House. About half of these women are survivors of domestic violence and/or single mothers like Mahogany who are transitioning into permanent housing and job placements. Training through TWIP leads to career tracks and jobs that pay a living wage.