Steadfast House: A 'Life Jacket' for Women

Leslie came to Steadfast House in a state of homelessness brought on by mental and physical health issues. While she was in a behavioral health facility, Leslie’s social worker told her about Steadfast House and encouraged her to add her name to the waiting list of more than 300 women and children. Leslie knew she could not begin to rebuild her life while homeless.

“While I was being evaluated, a social worker reviewed all the Steadfast House program information with me and encouraged me to add my name to the waiting listing,” she said. “She told me to make sure that I called each week to keep my name on the list. I truly believe it was God who opened the way for me to come to Asheville after all I had been through previously.”

When a place opened at Steadfast House, Leslie moved in and began her rebuilding process. Working with her case manager, Leslie first addressed multiple physical concerns, and then found long-term outpatient care for mental and emotional issues. Once stable, she was able to connect with social services such as Medicaid, food stamps and legal aid. To do all those things in the unstable homeless environment, and without transportation, was extremely difficult for Leslie. But the stability she found at Steadfast House allowed her to address these issues on her own time and with the support of her case manager.

Leslie has returned to school at A-B Tech to study graphic design. She is also training to become a peer support specialist. She believes it was God who brought her to Asheville and Steadfast House after all she had been through.

“Steadfast House was the ‘life jacket’ thrown out to me when I very much needed it the most,” she said. “I had ministered to homeless folks when I lived in Georgia but now I have some empathy of how really far one slides down into a sand pit and struggles to get out. Steadfast House has boosted me up onto solid, fertile ground where I can now plant my new life.”

Women like Leslie will soon have Transformation Village, ABCCM's vision to end homelessness, as a new "life jacket" of sorts. Click here for more information about ABCCM's vision to end homelessness for women, children and families in Buncombe County.

 

U.S. Navy Veteran Excels in Jobs Program

Darla, a U.S. Navy veteran who has been homeless and receives support through ABCCM’s Veterans Services of the Carolinas, is currently working at the ABCCM South Crisis Ministry warehouse through Transitional Employment Program (TEP). It’s a position that demands a lot of different skills, from working alongside volunteers to going on donation pickup runs to serving as the face of ABCCM when members of the community drop off donations.

Although she has previous work experience, Darla had typically been working just to make ends meet, without a career goal. Now that she is going to school to prepare for a career in the health and wellness field, Darla knew she needed job that would allow her the time to attend classes. She also needed to be able to take time off to go to the Charles George VA Medical Center for appointments as needed. The employment program has provided that flexibility for her.

“If you haven’t worked in a while, you have a lapse when you go to write out a resume,” Darla says. “This position allows me to work and get something on my resume, and it gives me someone to put down as a reference. I can focus on school because this program allows me to take the time I need to go to do those things. I can also take time off for VA appointments. It helps not just to integrate back into work but also with other issues veterans might have, such as mental, emotional and substance abuse. To be able to work and go to meetings really creates a good opportunity.”

The job also provides a good boost of confidence, especially for veterans like Darla who have struggled with homelessness and seeing a clear future ahead.

“Anytime I’m in a position and do a good job and get recognized for it, it feels good,” she says. “For sure it motivates you to want to do better.”

Darla’s prospects took a huge step forward recently when she received a new-to-her vehicle through Working Wheels (formerly Wheels4Hope Asheville). Our partnership with Working Wheels has helped several Steadfast House residents get into vehicles of their own, which helps along women and children in their transformation from homelessness to self-sustainability. We’re thrilled to have this partnership and excited for Darla!

ABCCM, Community Come Together for Veteran

Check out this amazing video to hear from Monique and learn about how this vehicle will make a difference for her! (Caliber Collision Changing Lanes video)

One of our veterans recently had a life-changing day, and it was a day that was many months in the making. Monique, an honorably discharged Air Force veteran, began been working with ABCCM's Veterans Services of the Carolinas (VSC) last year when she was living outdoors in a vehicle she had borrowed from a friend. Monique was homeless and unsheltered during the peak temperatures of Charlotte's hot summer months. Upon connecting with VSC, Monique enrolled in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) rapid re-housing program. And because being unemployed was also an area of primary concern, Monique became a participant in the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) to address her employment needs.

In doing so Monique set out to tackle the dual goals of securing gainful employment and permanent housing for her family. Through her dedicated efforts and through the initial supports of ABCCM’s SSVF and HVRP programs, Monique obtained a job offer that allowed her to secure permanent housing. She did so just as she reached the deadline to return the borrowed vehicle in which she had been living. With her new job and housing in place, Monique was able to earn just enough to make ends meet. The lack of dependable transportation in a commuter city still loomed large, however, making it difficult to obtain the security of a better-paying job.  Monique made multiple attempts to purchase her own vehicle.  But due to past credit issues and the inability to obtain a cosigner for a loan, transportation seemed to be an insurmountable barrier.  She was stuck.

That is where things changed for this veteran, and it happened because the community stepped up to help. Through VSC's participation in the NC Serves system with Charlotte Bridge Home, Monique's case manager learned of an opportunity for a veteran to apply for a donated vehicle through a community partnership between Caliber Collision, the Recycled Rides Initiative, and the Changing Lanes program. Indeed, there were many moving parts involved!  Changing Lanes is a program at Fayetteville Technical Community College that trains active duty military members for career-level jobs in auto repair. Through Caliber Collision's sponsorship, and Monique's nomination to NC Serves by her ABCCM Veteran's Service of the Carolinas case manager, these soldiers restored a car for one of their own.

Monique now enjoys the freedom of mobility with her professionally restored car!

It is instances like these that make one wonder what else is possible when our efforts are united in cooperative action. This story which spans the efforts of community partners from Asheville, Charlotte and Fayetteville is indeed emblematic of ABCCM's mission to do together what individual congregations cannot do separately.  

 

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ABCCM Veteran is an Academic Award Winner!

VRQ resident Toby and his case manager celebrated his recent academic award for Hospitality Management at A-B Tech Community College.

VRQ resident Toby and his case manager celebrated his recent academic award for Hospitality Management at A-B Tech Community College.

U.S. Navy veteran Toby Bollinger didn’t waste any time finding work soon after he arrived at the Veterans Restoration Quarters in November 2015. Within four days – after spending more than 70 days in jail for alcohol-related driving offenses – he was doing yard work for a local resident.  A few weeks after that, he began working for the Asheville Fire Department as a phone salesman selling tickets to fundraising events.

Toby soon found his passion, however, when he began studying hospitality, first through Goodwill’s START program and then A-B Tech Community College’s associate’s degree program. Thanks to the support and encouragement of both ABCCM’s Veterans Services of the Carolinas and the VRQ, Toby recently completed his first year of classes. He was even named the winner of the Academic Award among students in the Hospitality Management area of the Division of Business and Hospitality.

“I was really shocked. I had never been invited to an academic awards reception before and they only pick one person from each department so that was really big,” said Toby, who also works two nights a week at the Holiday Inn Asheville Biltmore East, located on Tunnel Road near the VRQ. “I really like hotel work and working with people. I just like to make sure we’re doing our job to make their stay enjoyable.”

Toby will finish the academic year with better than a 3.72 grade point average, which he accomplished despite suffering injuries last fall in a traffic accident – he did not miss a day of school or work. He also worked toward earning back his driver’s license and was elected to serve on the VRQ’s Residents Council.

Toby was able to successfully leave the VRQ in May 2017 after he was hired for a coveted position as lodge manager at A-B Tech.  In that job, he will manage six rooms that serve as training for students while also living in the facility. Toby will also able to keep his job at Holiday Inn.

He recently learned that he qualifies for a program that will support his education at a 4-year public university, where he intends to continue studying hospitality. Eventually he would like to run a resort somewhere in the Bahamas. Toby says he will always be grateful for the opportunities he had through ABCCM to help him become self-sufficient and transform his life.

“It’s the perfect starting ground. If you use it for what it’s intended to be used for, then it works perfectly,” he said. “For me, I came here because I knew there was structure, and I needed to get that back in my life. It can get you anywhere you want to go.”

Way to go Toby!  What a great inspiration you are to so many at ABCCM. Want to learn more about how you can support these programs for our veterans? 

Transforming a Building

We know volunteers can transform the lives of the men, women and children that ABCCM serves every day. Volunteers can also transform a building!

For two days in April, volunteers from the North Carolina Baptist Men put a new metal roof on the main building of ABCCM's South Crisis Ministry location in Arden. The men stripped off the old roof and put a new metal roof in its place. The volunteers represented Woodland Hills Baptist, West Asheville Baptist, and Price's Chapel Baptist churches.

Volunteer projects like this one are so crucial to not only help us maintain our facilities, but also allow our staff to focus on serving clients. While the volunteers worked on the roof, neighbors in need were able to see staff and volunteer counselors in order to receive food boxes, clothing, as well as rent and utility assistance. Donors continued to drop off needed clothes, furniture, household goods and other items, while staff and volunteers continued to process these items and prepare them for those ready to move into their own stable housing.

ABCCM facilities can always benefit from skilled volunteer maintenance and construction work! If you have a heart for volunteer work, please visit www.abccm.org/volunteer for more information. Just give the volunteer coordinator or program director in your favorite ministry area a call or send an email – they will get back to you with more information, or to sign you up. We need you!

Wanted: Volunteers Who Can Make a Difference Behind the Wheel!

One of the most important functions of ABCCM's Crisis Ministry centers is to get food to those who are hungry. But how does the food actually get to ABCCM? As we do in so many areas, we rely on volunteers! Several community members with some free time and a valid driver's license and insurance regularly drive from donation centers and food banks to our Downtown Crisis Ministry in Montford to make drop-offs. From there, ABCCM packs food boxes for those in need and makes sure other crucial items get to ministry sites where the homeless and hungry in Buncombe County have access to food for their needs.

And boy, could we use more drivers! We are currently looking for drivers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, with backup drivers needed Thursday and Friday. It takes about two hours a week, and we appreciate a weekly or monthly commitment. We provide the van and the route - you just do the driving!

Each run provides enough food for 10 households and 72 meals in our soup kitchen - what a tremendous impact! The volunteer job is the perfect way to have a big impact in just a few hours per week or month.

For more information or to volunteer, email Aaron Schnurbusch at aaron.schnurbusch@abccm.org or call (828) 398-6805. For other volunteer opportunities at our Crisis Ministry and other areas, visit our volunteer page.

Serving as God's Vessel at Lent

A volunteer stopped me in the clothing room as I was making a donation to tell me he had just celebrated one year of sobriety.  He said it all began when a volunteer shared with him that he had been forgiven.

He told me he had lost eight years of his life due to constantly being drunk. “When I heard that I was forgiven and could lay down my guilt and shame, I have been sober ever since," he said. "That’s why I love to volunteer– helping others in the clothing room, putting on the love and grace of Jesus!”

Right after the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, verse 14 says: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” How often do we trip over the stumbling blocks of our own judgements of who deserves help, who has ‘brought it on themselves,’ or those people are not like me? When we judge others in this way, are we not like the very Pharisees that Jesus called hypocrites, which we criticize for their short-sighted, self-serving spirituality. 

During this Lenten season, we give up many things in order to think of Him more often and realize our greater dependence on His love, grace and mercy. Our prayer is that we will give up those stumbling blocks which give us convenient excuses not to serve, or not to give. We thank God for all those who consider giving up two or four hours, once a week or once a month to encounter the Christ in serving their neighbor. 

Someone asked me recently how ABCCM orchestrates change. I simply responded, “We create the opportunity for others to serve and watch who the Holy Spirit chooses to bring together.” The one thing we know is that when He brings people together, then He is in their midst and the joy of forgiveness, through grace and reconciliation, brings redemption in the lives of others. It can be through the smile and welcoming presence of a receptionist, or through the careful listening of an intake worker or counselor. It can be that doctor, nurse or pharmacist who offers not only a diagnosis and healing medication, but also that healing touch that lets another know how much God loves them. 

Throughout this Lenten season, we will find out how much God loves us. Will you be His vessel so that another will know that God loves them?

Reverend Scott Rogers, Executive Director

 

Out of the Kitchen, Into the Community

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The veterans who are part of the ABCCM’s culinary training partnership with A-B Tech spend a lot of time in the kitchen at the Veterans Restoration Quarters. That’s where they learn the basics of working in the restaurant industry as they train for careers that pay a living wage.

Getting out of the VRQ kitchen can be just as valuable of an experience, as one group of students recently learned when Chef Eric Cox, ABCCM’s director of food service operations, took the class for a special behind-the-scenes look at one of Asheville’s most popular restaurants.

The group recently visited Buxton Hall Barbeque in the South Slope neighborhood. There, the students observed prep work for side dishes, assisted with the processing of a whole hog, and saw how dessert – chocolate-dipped crackling skins finished with sea salt and cayenne – can be created from an unlikely source.

“It was quite the eye-opening experience and good to see that there is potential for what we’re doing here,” says Brian, a U.S. Army veteran who is a resident of the VRQ and is a member of the advanced class. “It was great to get out there and see what possibilities lay ahead.”

The veterans were back in the kitchen a few weeks later for a morning session with Chef Denny Trantham, a chef who works for US Foods and who formerly worked as a chef at the Grove Park Inn. He brought with him to the VRQ a selection of items from US Foods’ “Scoop” line of innovative products, including Brussels sprout petals, seared tuna and grilled chicken breast, which the class utilized to prepare a delicious lunch.

US Foods Chef Denny Trantham works with veterans in ABCCM's culinary program during a recent morning at the Veterans Restoration Quarters. Chef Denny and the students made a delicious lunch from the company's Scoop line of innovative products, and picked up lots of tips and tricks from the chef.

US Foods Chef Denny Trantham works with veterans in ABCCM's culinary program during a recent morning at the Veterans Restoration Quarters. Chef Denny and the students made a delicious lunch from the company's Scoop line of innovative products, and picked up lots of tips and tricks from the chef.

Chef Trantham was thrilled to work with the veterans on their journey to self-sustainability. Although he was familiar with ABCCM’s culinary program because he had sent product to Chef Cox for use in the courses, Chef Trantham had never had a chance to cook with and lead a class of ABCCM’s veterans.

“For me, I want to share my craft with the men and women that have given their lives. Anything that I can do to assist and help them get into the culinary craft, is my obligation and duty just like they served my country,” he says. “US Foods has been very supportive of this. Anytime I mentioned to them, ‘This is for the veterans,’ they’ve said, ‘Do what you need to do.’”

ABCCM’s culinary program offers veteran residents and clients training that will move them towards career-level, living-wage jobs. How can you help? Sponsor a scholarship! Click here to support this crucial program!

Group photo with Chef Eric Cox (bottom right), ABCCM's director of foodservice operations.

Group photo with Chef Eric Cox (bottom right), ABCCM's director of foodservice operations.

The Power of Food

Dottie Burton, a 20-year volunteer in ABCCM’s Downtown Crisis Ministry could serve there in any number of areas – from greeting clients in the front lobby to sorting clothing donations.

Instead, Dottie chooses to do her service around food. She works in the kitchen, where she preparesand serves food to those in need of a hot lunch.

“I just love to be in the kitchen,” she says, “because the clients who come in for the soup kitchen and food are the ones who, I feel, need my encouragement. Some of them are so down, and to go out and talk to them over a meal and a cup of coffee so they have someone to open up to, made a big difference for them.”

March is a time of year during which food becomes a critical need at ABCCM. Our Crisis Ministry centers distribute food all winter – a time when families are making the heartbreaking choice between paying heating bills and buying groceries. Our food supplies tend to grow thin, and we need the community’s help so we can keep providing these important services.

Volunteer Tim O'Connor looks over a list of foods requested by a client at the Downtown Crisis Ministry. Tim enjoys packing food boxes and bags for the clients, because he was one himself several years ago.

Volunteer Tim O'Connor looks over a list of foods requested by a client at the Downtown Crisis Ministry. Tim enjoys packing food boxes and bags for the clients, because he was one himself several years ago.

Volunteers like Dottie who work in the Crisis Ministry kitchens do so because they understand the importance of providing food, whether it’s that warm meal and cup of coffee in the soup kitchen or a full box of food to someone who is struggling to make ends meet for the month. Tim O’Connor, who has been volunteering at the Crisis Ministry since 2011, knows that feeling – he was once a Crisis Ministry client. He volunteers regularly with his support person Jenny Brooks, who has come to enjoy her service packing food boxes with Tim in the food pantry.

“I like helping people and I like working here, helping out,” Tim says.

“It’s good to know we’re packing up what people need,” Jenny says. “They’re so grateful, and they smile a lot. That’s why Tim likes to take the boxes out to them in a big shopping cart to see them smile.”

Crisis Ministry volunteer Jenny Brooks serves dessert to a client during a recent soup kitchen lunch.

Crisis Ministry volunteer Jenny Brooks serves dessert to a client during a recent soup kitchen lunch.

As a volunteer counselor, David Johnson hears a lot of requests for food. Not only does the fulfillment of those requests touch his clients, he has also been transformed by his experience with 1-on-1 work.

“Food is a necessity. It’s not like the television. When we are able to give them food bags, there’s just an overwhelming sense of gratitude, this sense of impending doom that’s been in the back of their mind and has been alleviated,” says David, a UNCA Asheville senior majoring in psychology. “I find this is an experience where you are really living the Gospel, not just reading and learning about it. That’s what has been transformative for me, just seeing how impactful that is in other people’s lives, putting it into practice rather than just reading about it. It’s been a gift.”

ABCCM is always looking for volunteers to help in its Crisis Ministry center kitchens and food pantries, where there are opportunities to serve lunch at the Downtown Crisis Ministry center, and work to pack food boxes and organize donations. ABCCM also takes donations of food. Regular needs include:

  • Canned meats (Spam, stew, tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • Self-rising flour
  • Sugar
  • Hot and cold cereal
  • Canned fruit
  • Saltine crackers
  • Cooking oil
  • Juices
  • Canned soups
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Jelly
  • Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables

Food drives are a great way to get involved! Thinking about holding a food drive at your church or place of business? Call (828) 259-5300 to speak with someone our Crisis Ministry.

UNC Asheville senior David Johnson, who volunteers as a counselor in the Crisis Ministry, goes through a client's paperwork before a meeting. Johnson sees how grateful clients are when they're able to get assistance with food.

UNC Asheville senior David Johnson, who volunteers as a counselor in the Crisis Ministry, goes through a client's paperwork before a meeting. Johnson sees how grateful clients are when they're able to get assistance with food.

A Blessing from Walmart

Here at ABCCM, we know how important it is for our homeless residents to have access to employment training programs that can lead to steady jobs and careers that pay a living wage. The Walmart Foundation 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 will allow us 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 who are transitioning into permanent housing and job placements.

“We are blessed to receive funding from the Walmart Foundation that will help the women at Steadfast House gain the skills they need to advance into living-wage careers and enable them to move on into safe, stable housing and live self-sufficiently,” said Reverend Scott Rogers, ABCCM’s executive director. “Our job training programs have been remarkably successful, but limited in dollars, and now we can serve more residents at Steadfast House.”

“Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are pleased to support Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry and their Transitional Workforce Investment Program,” said Brooke Mueller, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for Walmart. “Through this grant, ABCCM will be able to expand their outreach to women in the community and help them receive access to programs to help them build skills needed to enter the workforce.”

TWIP will focus on the needs of each participant though extensive case management and will tailor services and assistance to help each participant address individual barriers, such as housing and transportation, as they complete job skills training programs. ABCCM staff works to link participants with access to health and human services, training opportunities, and jobs. Funding is available for short-term certification courses at our community college and coverage for licensure fees are also provided, so participants may qualify for living wage jobs. ABCCM works with 114 employers to place participants in six different career areas, including small manufacturing, culinary and hospitality services, retail services, transportation and truck driving, internet technology, and health care. Once the participants’ income is stabilized, ABCCM focuses on helping them find private, affordable, and sustainable housing.

Vehicle Donations Transform Lives!

An anonymous donation of two vehicles will transform the lives of two of ABCCM’s residents, one at the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the other at Steadfast House.

Mike, a U.S. Navy veteran living at the VRQ, is a skilled and experienced machinist who had been offered jobs in the area. But without a vehicle to get him back and forth to a job, he was stuck working part-time at a fast-food restaurant within walking distance. Marye, a new mother living at Steadfast House, had just finished her schooling to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) but was struggling to get her son to day care and hunt for jobs.

Their lives have now been transformed. “Now my journey begins,” Marye said after she helped her case manager install a car seat in the back of the Nissan Maxima from Whitt Motor Sales in Candler.

Marye hadn’t had a car for two years, when she lost it due to domestic violence. Her new vehicle will allow her to drop off her son at day care and then interview for jobs without having to worry about the bus schedule. Eventually, Marye will use the vehicle for transportation to a new job that will move her and her son from homelessness to self-sustainability.

“This is such a blessing and I am so grateful,” she said. “It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Mike had already been job hunting when the donated vehicle became available to him. In fact, Mike had been offered jobs in the past, but because he had no transportation he was unable to accept them. Last year he decided to go on a job interview by riding his bicycle in combination with the bus. The weather was nice when he got there, but by the time he left it was raining. It took him three hours to get back to the VRQ.  Mike got a call that he had been hired, but he had to turn down the offer due to his transportation challenges.

Before he knew about the vehicle donation, Mike had recently decided to leave his restaurant job and try to find a machinist position. He spoke to VRQ Director Tim McElyea about his plans to go on job interviews. Tim knew the car donation was available and was going to Mike – who serves as a Team Leader at the VRQ – but let Mike share his job struggles for a moment before sharing the good news.

“He came in my office and told me he had prayed about it and decided to put it in God’s hands to try to get a machinist job, and see what falls into place,” McElyea said. “I said, well, let me tell you something.”

Mike’s Toyota Camry allows him to accept a position in his field, which will take him from fast-food wages to a job starting at around $24 per hour, plus benefits.

“It’s going to be a life-changer,” said Mike, who admits that he teared up when he heard about the vehicle.  I was just stepping out on faith. This is a blessing from God.”

Cars and vans donated to ABCCM are often given to male and female veterans, veteran families, and civilian women who are transforming their lives. Other donated vehicles are used to transport veterans to and from the Charles George VA Medical Center, training courses and college classes to ensure they have access to medical care and education as they restore their lives. These donations have a huge impact as they move men, women and families from homelessness to self-sustainability. If you have a vehicle to donate, please call 828-259-5300 for more information.

Servant Leadership Center Now Open!

New offices for Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry are now open at 20 Twentieth Street, off Patton Avenue in West Asheville.
The new building is called the ABCCM Servant Leadership Center, and will house ABCCM’s administrative offices and meeting rooms where ABCCM will host volunteer training sessions. Special events and marketing services are located at the new site.  The building will also serve as a strategic planning center for ABCCM and a community gathering place.
In thinking about ABCCM’s new offices, Reverend Scott Rogers said, “The Servant Leadership Center reflects how “those who would be the greatest, should wash the feet of others” (John 13:14);  or in other words, how we should meet the needs of their neighbors. That's what ABCCM's congregations, donors, volunteers and leaders strive to do – create opportunities for others to serve their neighbors.”  
The site will also eventually be the location of a new warehouse to replace the ABCCM’s longtime donation center on Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville. All donations, whether in-kind items such as food, clothes, household items and furniture, will go to the warehouse where they can be gathered in a central place then distributed to our four Crisis Ministries, Medical Ministry, Jail Ministry and Homeless Ministry locations at Steadfast House and the Veterans Restoration Quarters (VRQ). Until the new warehouse is open, donations can be dropped at the Crisis Ministry sites:
Downtown in Montford at 24 Cumberland Avenue
ABCCM South, 20 Buck Shoals Road in Arden
ABCCM North Buncombe Samaritan, 403 Weaverville Highway, Weaverville
ABCCM Hominy Valley, 1914 Smoky Park Highway, Candler
Other sites for dropoffs:
Medical Ministry at 155 Livingston Street
VRQ at 1329 Tunnel Road
The Servant Leadership Center is open to members of the public. Please call (828) 259-5305 to arrange a visit. The new mailing address is ABCCM, 20 Twentieth Street, Asheville, NC, 28806
ABCCM’s former offices at 30 Cumberland Avenue are no longer open.  The Crisis Ministry is still serving at 24 Cumberland Ave.
 

 

 

Celebrating Love in February

Celebrating Love in the Month of February is about what we do for others. Are you bothered by how much love of self and self-centeredness seems to dominate our culture? I am not referring to politicians. But I wonder, are you as troubled as I am about the level of self-centeredness with which social media has surrounded us? Pictures of what I am eating ... really? What really got me was someone taking a picture of how much flab they could pinch. Between the Snapchats, Tweets and Facebook, I wonder if we are becoming so focused on what’s going on around us that we lose sight of our neighbors crying out in their wilderness.
While we are used to seeing pictures, I want to share some word pictures from around ABCCM. In the Crisis Ministry, I was painted a picture of a husband and wife whose hours have been cut; now there isn’t enough money for food, or even pay the power bill. This is a picture of a family that wants to work hard and give the kids their best, but just need a little help from their friends.
Another picture shared with me at Steadfast House was that of a woman who has obvious bruises and cuts. She is homeless and scared. She doesn’t put words and sentences together like folks that have had three meals a day and a regular place to sleep. She talks about her abuse in very unusual descriptions, but the volunteer who listens understands from the woman's body language how scared and anxious she really is.
Another picture at the Veterans Restoration Quarters is one of a veteran who won’t even look the intake person in the eye. He fidgets almost uncontrollably and his voice is hardly above a whisper.  The most often-asked question is, "What did you say?"
A volunteer told me, “When you mix in a dose of listening with compassion and respect, sprinkle in some concern and you start to see their countenance change.” A week or two week later, the pictures had changed for each person. For the woman who was embarrassed to ask for food, the tears welled up as she tells how much being able to feed her family meant. For the abused woman, the picture is of a calm, relaxed face – knowing that she is safe and doesn’t have to worry about the next meal or where she will be. The veteran’s picture is hardly recognizable in the next couple of weeks because he looks at everybody, says "hello," greets them with a "sir" or "ma’am," and you can already tell that he has gained some weight after eating so well.  We all need to honor the love of those around us; and the love of those we depend on the most. There is also a time to take the strength and bounty of that love from family, a spouse, and our church and pour it out in a few precious minutes or hours to someone who is not just consumed with themselves, but is truly wondering if anyone cares or is in pain, or lonely, or needs the sprinkle of hope and compassion that only another person can bring.
If you are that person whose love is overflowing and you are feeling the tug or call of the Holy Spirit to do something for someone else, to make a difference, or to use your gifts like those of a nurse or healthcare provider at our Medical Ministry, then please contact us for a tour or for more information by emailing volunteer@abccm.org or calling 259-5300. You may contact one of our ministries directly. You may want a special program at your church of civic club, and we are happy to come talk about the impact of love on the life of our neighbors.  
Reverend Scott Rogers
Executive Director