God Loves You

 

God loves you!  He wants the very best for you. If you have had a vacation or the chance to reflect on His many blessings in the mountains or a beach or your home, then your response to worship and thank Him naturally wells up within us. Psalm 84 starts out with this joy of longing for His courts and celebrating him through worship.  Then the Psalmist changes gears in verse 5 and says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”  NIV  

This “pilgrimage” builds springs for others, and pools to collect water so that everyone in the community is nourished.  

Is your pilgrimage ready to nourish and be a spring of fresh water to someone in need?  Summer, more than any other time is when I reflect on where we have come from and where God is taking us.  Every chance I get, I tell our homeless residents, our clinic patients, our families in the Crisis Ministry or inmates at the jail:  the churches love you and our volunteers love you.  They have experienced the grace of God, His forgiveness, and His strength and want to share with you.  

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Our churches, volunteers, donors and others at ABCCM want our neighbors, our Veterans, our workers, our disabled to be strengthened.  They want them to have needed food and clothes.  They want them to reach fuller potential by offering new strategies, skills, education and jobs.  ABCCM is equipping men, women and families with these new skills and jobs, along with access to medical, dental, and medicine that result in stronger lives, healthier families as well as stronger members in our churches who volunteer.  

In community terms, ABCCM is improving the social determinants of health.  We are working with a host of churches and other community organizations to build a healthier community by improving food/nutrition, transitional and permanent supportive housing, access to health care, along with assisting with electric and water bills, while preventing evictions.  But we are also connecting our participants with social networks, education and training that result in better jobs and stable housing.  

ABCCM soon knows if that one in four homeless person needs only the basic necessities, a safe place and some coping skills to move on in 45 days (or less).  We know that two out of four need some education and training to give them skills to embrace a new future, a second chance to be stable and successful in 180 days (or less).  We know that the last one out of four homeless persons needs more intensive services.  If we provide peer support service, trauma informed care, job training and education to build a social network of community and church, then they exit with a new home, stable income and friends/family.   

ABCCM is embracing the best practices and offering our best through the strength of our churches, volunteers and supporters.  If you are hearing a call in your pilgrimage, or a nudge from the Spirit, or an overflow of your blessings to impact someone’s life – please visit us, take a tour, join another ABCCM volunteer from your congregation and be part of strengthening a family, a Veteran, a hard worker, an Hispanic family, someone fleeing abuse – by just giving a second chance.  By giving of yourself in this way, you will find your own heart has been strengthened.  

 

Reverend Scott Rogers
Executive Director

Community Restaurants Serving our Veterans

O'Charley's

  As general manager of the Asheville O’Charley’s restaurant, Alex McDonald was considering local organizations as a community impact project for the restaurant.   He remembered one of his regular customers, a former employee of the VRQ.  Alex had met this customer years before while he was still a server at the restaurant, and the two had formed a friendship. The customer had even recommended a former resident of the VRQ for a position at O’Charley’s who was hired and still a great part of Alex’s team. Along with these two men, Alex also remembered the many Veterans who loyally eat at the restaurant. He decided to give back to local Veterans and chose the VRQ for their community impact project. He and some of his employees bought flowers and planted them on the VRQ property, and even donated the tools they used in the process of planting so that the Veterans could use them in the VRQ garden. “It was a lot of fun,” said Alex. “Gardening is a peaceful thing, and it’s a beautiful project they have going on at the VRQ.” Alex’s restaurant also donated $300 worth of O’Charley’s gift cards to be given to the residents. “In this process, I thought, ‘What place does Asheville have where we can reach out?’” said Alex. “We can reach out to help the Veterans.” Alex felt a duty to serve the Veterans at the VRQ through this project, and through his restaurant’s generosity, there is colorful, new life in the VRQ gardens, as well as many fun opportunities for the Veterans to eat out in Asheville. Alex also plans to bring his employees back for more service projects in the future.
     Through thoughtful acts of service, the residents of the VRQ are blessed. In the same way, your generosity and volunteerism is a blessing to all of ABCCM’s ministries. Thank you!

Buxton Hall Barbecue    

                                         Culinary Commandos at Buxton Hall

                                        Culinary Commandos at Buxton Hall

     In the process of learning, sometimes hands-on experience can change the course of a student’s life. This is what Chef Elliot Moss, one of the founders of Buxton Hall Barbecue Restaurant in downtown Asheville, hopes for the Culinary Commandos who took a field trip to Buxton Hall in earlier this year. Veterans in the program have been to Buxton Hall a few times before, but this was the first time that Chef Moss was able to be there to meet them. The Veterans met Ashley, the Buxton Hall pastry chef, who showed them the process of creating Buxton Hall’s legendary pies. They also observed the process of putting a whole pig on to roast and, subsequently, making barbeque. “After completing their training, if one of the Veterans is inspired enough by this field trip to come work at Buxton Hall someday, I would definitely look into that possibility,” said Chef Moss. “It’s important for them to get their foot in the door in the restaurant world.” He mentioned that he spent years working in fast food restaurants before he “made it” in the fast-paced, competitive restaurant world – and now, Chef Moss is the owner of multiple restaurants and a nominee for Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation.  Chef Moss knows the importance of hands-on training, and he is equipping the VRQ Culinary Commandos to do great things once they graduate. His willingness to open his kitchen is a testament to his respect for these Veterans and fellow chefs.
     Thanks to community members like Chef Moss – and congregations like yours – residents at ABCCM’s VRQ and Steadfast House have a chance to find new opportunities as their lives are rebuilt. Thank you!

Without You There's No Us

I was wide open to whomever God would bring as I asked my ABCCM colleagues whom I should interview that epitomized this month’s newsletter theme, “Strengthen”.   Veteran Services of the Carolinas (VSC) Director and US Marine, Brandon Wilson looked me dead in the eyes and said one name, Ricky Johnson.  When a Marine talks, I listen.  Brandon just hired Mr. Johnson to be the newest NC Peer Support Specialist on his Veterans Services of the Carolinas team that directly case manages and ignites the recovery hope of the hundreds of US military veterans personally served by ABCCM.  

Brandon introduced us at the perfect first-day-on-the-job for a US Marine veteran like Ricky, ABCCM’s 4th of July Veterans’ Celebration with the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field.  I also met his equally wonderful wife, Julie.  As Ricky Johnson walked up and shook my hand, his physical strength was evident.  He’s a walking Gold’s Gym poster.  However, his greater strength was evident as I watched him engage many veterans shuffling by the ABCCM table at this sold out crowd.  Ricky poured out inner compassion, camaraderie, respect, and even humor with men and women who stopped by due to his compelling efforts.  During the event, Ricky and I exchanged thanks and contact information for our upcoming interview.  He humbly submitted to  me a two-part short documentary as context for our interview about his life.  After watching his life story I realized why it warranted a two-part video.  The externally and internally strong Ricky Johnson we saw on July 4th, 2018 marred a past rife with turmoil is a walking, breathing testimony of God’s power to heal and strengthen.

                         Ricky Johnson, Peer Support Specialist

                        Ricky Johnson, Peer Support Specialist

The two-part series entitled, “The Redemption of Ricky Johnson” project was spearheaded by Cape Girardeau, Missouri’s KFVS 12’s award-winning legal and investigative reporter and news anchor, Kathy Sweeney.  I was so moved and amazed by the strength of journalism and compassion of the piece, I emailed Ms. Sweeny who replied, “Thank you Brad, for the kind words about our report.  My photographer/editor Bill Allen and I were touched by Ricky’s story, his honesty and the number of friends and strangers he’s impacted…, but after 29 years in this business, sharing a story like his is the reason why Bill and I stay in local news.”  I encourage readers to view Kathy Sweeny’s two-part story at KFVS12.com.  

Across from each other in a VSC conference room, Ricky Johnson looked forward to seeing his first veteran with whom he would case manage.  Ricky reflected on his duties as a professional with lived recovery experience, that in North Carolina we call a Peer Support Specialist. Mr. Johnson further received a new veteran peer support designation though his service as a US Marine.  Ricky is one of over 2000 men and women certified as of peer support specialists in North Carolina working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, government task force committees, non-profits, managed care organizations, and more.

“I met Brandon Wilson at a Marine Corp League meeting.  He asked me what I was doing.  I just moved to the area [was looking for work] when my wife Julie got a job as a counselor…he connected me with peer support training, and later hired me.”  Ricky recalled, “I was nineteen-years-old, small son, new marriage, and no direction in life.  I’m an extreme guy, always giving 110%,” and did so in the Marines.  Ricky Johnson cherishes his service, stating, “Once a Marine always a Marine.”  However, his desire to be home and the uneven path of recovery clouded his dream for a military career.  His life spiraled, fueled by drug habits, crime, and interpersonal chaos.  The key during the well documented self-destruction turning around for the good was Ricky’s stepfather.  “My stepfather, he is my father as my real father died…He stood by me, and also held the line with me.  He really loved me well back then and now.”  Wanting to support but not enable Mr. Johnson, his (step) father and key friends met him at the bottom of his life. 

But God was already there, and showed Ricky Johnson a new strength, His truly eternal 110% love that made recovery a daily “tough delight”.

 

Brad Owen
ABCCM Special Events Director

 

Equipping You with Everything Good for Doing His Will

The writer of Hebrews closed out his benediction in final greetings to his readers with these words: Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever.   Amen                           Hebrews 13: 20-21

How many of us realize that we really do have the tools and are equipped to handle the challenges of life?  Some challenges require that we turn to others in the body of Christ and in our community to teach us how to be better servants, to be servant leaders, to embrace what it means to love others as ourselves.  Accepting the grace of God is easy, but following the love of God is hard work.  

At Steadfast House, it is easy to welcome in a homeless mom and her children.  The joy and satisfaction of getting them off the street and in to a safe place is one that evokes some of God’s deep peace.  The hard work begins the next morning when we learn what she is fleeing from and what she is overcoming.  The stories are as graphic as any that are portrayed on television; and some call to mind the phrase: ‘You cannot make this stuff up.’  Right now, half of our residents are also Veterans.  We don’t often associate Veterans with women, but we have some of the bravest and most courageous female Veterans we have ever met.  

To deal with trauma is an acquired skill.  I am honored to tell you that Angela Catania is leading Steadfast with the same courage and compassion that anyone would want for our Veterans and survivors of violence.  She has engaged not only her team in being trained in trauma informed care, but  has negotiated an arrangement that will train all of our professional staff and case managers in how to help persons cope and be properly nurtured in our transitional housing facilities.  Angela also works closely with Tim McElyea to continue adding skills like motivational interviewing, peer support specialists, and reintegration skills for our staff and our residents.  If you would like to be a part of about 75 different ways to impact the life of a Veteran or a homeless survivor, please be in touch with me or one of these fine directors or volunteer coordinators who would welcome the opportunity to give you a tour and introduce you to the many opportunities to impact their lives.  You will find during orientation and training that we equip our volunteers as impactful as the lives we serve.  

Our Medical Ministry continues its great job of transitioning patients into primary care.  Offering the kind of training and education that helps individuals take more responsibility for their chronic diseases and health care is what our wonderful volunteers make possible.  Specialists in endocrinology like Dr. Weinrib help tackle some of the most difficult diabetic and thyroid cases.  We have podiatry that literally washes the feet of others to bring healing.  Dermatologists offer help with rashes and skin disease issues that bring true relief.  Our eye doctors provide valuable testing for glasses and contacts, but also to prevent blindness for diabetics.  We have a sports medicine specialist who helps us address critical issues requiring x-rays and radiology that not only helps with broken bones, but identifies serious cancers and other challenges.  We are honored to have the internist residents and other physician residencies from MAHEC who apply their skills while learning about the variety of ills that the uninsured have in our community.  Many working physicians are there to provide the urgent care for the uninsured after a long day at the office.  Our retired physicians invest the hundreds of thousands of dollars in their training to keep bringing hope and healing to the lives of those who could not afford care anywhere else.  

Our Crisis Ministries are exploring a new model called Crisis Time Intervention.  We are being equipped with our new database of information and referral that helps not only report outcomes better, but gives credit to all the agencies that help.  After all, we do not care who gets the credit but want to see the lives of individuals and families with children have the food and clothes they need, along with the stability that comes from paying a light bill or preventing an eviction.  Sometimes the best thing we can do for a family is help them stay intact and in their own homes.  

Thanks for equipping ABCCM with the resources and the people to meet these needs.  If God is tugging at your heart to join this great crowd of servant leaders, then please be in touch with us and engage with us soon because as I look outside my office, there is another family, another person coming through our doors needing help and you might just be the one that they need.  

In His service,

Reverend Scott Rogers
Executive Director
 

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Honoring Our Founders

         James Paul Raby

May 24, 1930 - June 5, 2018

Paul Raby passed away June 5th.  He and his wife Katherine had no children, but he was there at the birth of ABCCM and adopted us as his own.  Paul was a faithful member at Abernethy United Methodist Church and supported our founding leader, Reverend John Christy in making this new concept of equipping church members to be missionaries in their own community by serving one another in the name of Christ. 

Paul was unique as one of ABCCM’s founders because he spent his entire retirement years as a volunteer working four hours, once a week on Wednesday afternoon in our Crisis Ministry.  He sometimes served with his church on cook teams at both shelters and was a member on the ABCCM Board of Directors several times over the years.  Paul had a quiet, soft-spoken way that endeared him to everyone.  He also had a dry wit that was disarming.  This combination made him very effective in helping people look at a crisis and not only have a greater sense of calm about it, but then to listen to his wisdom, straight out of the Scriptures and the hard knocks of life, to teach others how to better cope and overcome their situation.  He invested his life in many people each day and hundreds each year which meant he impacted thousands beyond what we can count.  Paul invested in people’s lives and always took on special cases in which he would go the extra mile.  He would use ABCCM’s resources to fill the gaps and then quietly be involved in ways to help them build bridges out of poverty and into more stable lives.

At his funeral, Paul was eulogized by Reverend Karen Christy Kurtz, pastor of Montmorenci United Methodist Church and the daughter of ABCCM's founding President, Reverend John Christy.  Pastor Karen echoed how he loved ABCCM.  She highlighted how he was Cub Scout master for 22 years and held every position in the Methodist Church in support of that congregation.  Her fond memories were of him helping their family move into the parsonage, and of giving them coke and chips. This was characteristic of how Paul and  his wife, Katherine were invested in the lives of others – especially all the youth.  It reminded me of the ten days I spent with Paul when we went to Israel and walked in the footsteps of Jesus and learned about our rich heritage through the Scriptures. 

We have already missed Paul being in the Crisis Ministry the last couple of years due to his failing health.  He always asked about ABCCM and kept up his faithful support.  He also kept current about the progress of Transformation Village because of his love and concern for children at the Steadfast House.  His legacy will live on because of his commitment to helping ABCCM grow.  He believed in our mission and he supported it through the sacrifice of his time and talents.  We honor one of our founding heroes, J. Paul Raby.

A Budding Physician

What a blessing to spend time with those that serve at the Medical Ministry.  It was a family reunion of sorts because I had spent 16 months there on staff.  From the first greeter signing in patients, to medical professionals and pharmacy staff, I had observed first-hand, how volunteers and staff give their best to all the low-income patients that have no health insurance.  Since I was filling in for someone on vacation, I could jump right back into the action.  Before and after clinic hours, I asked staff and volunteers to tell me a good story for the newsletter.   Four different people, a nurse, front office staff and a volunteer told the same story about an interaction between two young men.

The young volunteer, in his early 20s has his CNA and is on the path to be a physician.   He volunteers at least once a week helping with the routine patient check-in, then with preliminary screenings like weight and blood pressure.  One nurse said, “He is very interactive with patients and does anything we ask.” 

One cold, rainy night, the last patient was a disheveled, young homeless guy in his late teens or early 20s.   He was covered with dirt, his shoes were so tattered and torn you could see feet through the bottom of them.  While our volunteer checked his vitals, he learned the patient was too old for foster care and was now on his own.  No wonder he looked so hopeless.  Staff members were gathering supplies they always keep on hand – food, snacks, toiletries -- some water.  During the conversation, one young man said to the other, “What size shoe do you wear?  Would you like these shoes?”   His patient protested that he could not take someone’s shoes.  The volunteer said, “It’s only shoes.  I have another pair in my car.”  Of course, they ‘happened’ to be the right size. 

The storytellers said the shoes were a name brand and that everyone was in tears.  They have never seen the young man again but that faithful volunteer still shows up every week.

 

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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