This week we shine our non-profit client spotlight on an organization that accomplishes their mission thanks to the power of community: area churches, staff and volunteers who act “in response to God's call to provide vital services for our neighbors in need”. Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry (SVCM) accomplishes all this through 4 on-going programs and several events throughout the year, each geared to a specific purpose.
SVCM provides financial assistance with rent, heating assistance, utilities, medical, vehicle repairs, and other needs on a case-by-case basis. Says SVCM director Cheryl Wilson, “During the pandemic SVCM has remained open daily, assisting clients through phone interviews and contactless assistance. In the past month we have seen numerous new clients. In January and February of this year we helped with a record $20,503 on electric bills and fuel assistance.”
SVCM’s Hope for Tomorrow, provides transitional supportive housing for homeless children and their mothers, thanks to the generosity of a local family that donated land. So far 8 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom apartments have been built, housing 9 families of children and their mothers as well as an on-site resident manager. The end goal of this holistic approach to assistance is to ensure that these families can be self-sustaining.
Under the supervision of a case manager who assists each mother in her goal setting, the children will attend public schools and receive tutoring and mentoring. Mothers receive support and education in life skills conducted by other non-profit groups, church groups, and individuals, including nutrition and healthy eating classes, and budgeting classes through On-Track financial management. Career building classes will be available and, when appropriate, enrollment in the AB Tech GED Program. SVCM Scholarships will be available to any of the mothers wishing to take classes at AB Tech toward a degree or a certificate program. With COVID many of these programs have not been available, but work on an individual basis remains on-going with each mom. Four families successfully moved out last fall into the new affordable housing, East Haven apartments.
SVCM offers a client choice food pantry where clients can come every 21 days for food. Under COVID a daily food list is prepared that a volunteer or staff goes over with a client when they call in for food, and then volunteers fill a grocery cart with food items for the clients. They also have a Clothes Closet with men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and shoes, and household items such as sheets, blankets, and towels, as well as dinnerware and basic kitchen utensils and small appliances. In order to keep clients and volunteers safe in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, SVCM implemented a drive-up system for pick-up of goods.
In the pre-COVID world, Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry worked with First Baptist Church Black Mountain to provide a homeless shelter, unfortunately currently closed due to COVID-19. For the 2020-21 season SVCM has been putting homeless up in local motels through a grant from the CFWNC Black Mountain/Swannanoa foundation. Wilson hopes they will be able to re-open the shelter for the 2021-2022 season, starting on November 1st – March 31st.
SVCM organizes several annual fundraisers. Wilson says she is especially proud of the Deck the Trees 2020 fundraiser, adding “We raised a record-breaking total of $36,078.87, with proceeds going towards the fuel fund.
The Johnny Raines Christmas Cheer Program offers a wonderful opportunity to help families celebrate Christmas by providing gifts for children, while the Walk for Hunger Relief benefits Swannanoa Valley families and individuals who are in situations of hardship and need food.
Says Wilson, “I am incredibly grateful not only for the organizations that collaborate with Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, but also the people—donors, staff and volunteers—who work tirelessly to make this program a success.”
SVCM serves those living east of the VA Hospital, including part of East Asheville, Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Montreat and Ridgecrest. If this organization speaks to your heart, SVCM would love to hear from you about volunteering or donating.