In celebration of their respective 40 year anniversaries, and in a nod to the deep importance of volunteer support at each organization, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and MANNA FoodBank are spending a day in each other’s shoes, so to speak.
On Friday, September 22, leadership staff and board members from each organization will do service at the other: MANNA helping to build homes and operate a retail store, and Asheville Habitat participating in the warehouse operation devoted to taking care of those in our community facing food insecurity. Media members are invited to visit during the volunteer swap.
A cohort of 10 volunteers who serve weekly with both organizations, are also participating in the special day of service and then being honored for their deep devotion to service during a happy hour event. These dual-agency core volunteers are: Peter Anuzis, Kevin Click, Jan Cosman, Roger Gauthier, Jim Hester, Tim Kruse, Bill Reid, Evan Rosenberg, Richard Spoering, and Garland Walker.
Asheville Habitat has built nearly 400 homes and repaired more than 500 houses since its inception in 1983. The organization has adapted its programs over the years to grow capacity and better respond to the changing housing needs in our community. In 1990, a ReStore selling donated housewares, furniture, and building supplies created a new sustainable revenue stream to help fund Habitat’s building programs. In 2009, a Home Repair program came online to help existing low-income homeowners afford much-needed repairs and enable them to remain in the homes. Two-story townhomes were added in 2018 to the product mix to serve more families, and single-level townhomes featuring Universal Design elements allow those age 55+ to “age in place”.
“I’m grateful that forty years ago this community envisioned local solutions to ensure our neighbors’ rights to food and shelter. Today we can build the kind of community we all want to be a part of on the foundation they laid,” remarked Andy Barnett, Chief Executive Officer of Asheville Habitat.
MANNA and their extensive partner network have distributed more than 300 million pounds of food since 1983 across their 16 county service area, including the Qualla Boundary. That equates to a staggering 250 million meals provided to people in our region over the last four decades. The organization has grown exponentially, striving to meet the steadily growing need for food for thousands of families working hard every day to make ends meet. The addition of their 1-800 Food Helpline in 2012 has helped thousands of residents locate food pantries and connect with resources including the SNAP program. Mobile markets bring healthy food to people, and education about and access to nutritious foods, particularly in marginalized communities, is a key focus today.
Both organizations attribute their longevity and success to the region’s supportive community. MANNA involves, educates, and unites people in the work of ending hunger, and Habitat brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Engagement opportunities like those offered by both organizations are attractive to people who want to be part of the solution, and there is overlap between the non-profits’ volunteers, donors, and advocates. Jan Cosman, a core volunteer and supporter of both Habitat and MANNA notes, “Housing and food are two of the most important basic human needs. These two organizations work incredibly hard to ensure residents have shelter and sustenance, and I am proud to be involved with them.”
“We’re proud to be in community with Asheville Habitat, the incredible volunteers who donate their time to address these basic human needs, and all those who provide food and housing for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Dr. Claire Neal, CEO for MANNA FoodBank. “This compassionate community is making life-changing differences every day, and together we can and will create a better WNC for us all.”