Dear friends of Asheville Youth Mission,
As we enter this time of uncertainty, wondering how we are to take care of ourselves as well as those most vulnerable in our society, some have been asking what practical ways young people can help. Yesterday Youth Mission Co hosted a webinar with youth ministry leaders about ways we can love our neighbors during this pandemic. For example, there are no-risk options (making cards and calls from home), low risk ones (running an errand for a homebound neighbor), and moderate risk (volunteering in small groups at an agency). In a city like Asheville, where so many volunteers are retirees who now are the most vulnerable to serious infection, what does this mean for younger folks (i.e. students including college-age) who are now at home? Each individual and family may be willing to embrace different options, and discernment is key. How we answer life’s most urgent question (“What are we doing for others?” MLK) is always before us, and there is not a one-size-fits-all answer.
I want to share a couple of opportunities going on now with three of our long-time partners: MANNA FoodBank, Homeward Bound, and Beloved House.
- Demands on our nation’s food banks are increasing and only will increase as we enter into this time of economic uncertainty and unemployment for so many of our neighbors. Micah Tomlinson, volunteer manager of MANNA said they would welcome volunteers right now. “Volunteers are the driving force behind the daily work at MANNA, and with 50% of our regular volunteers in a high-risk category for the virus, we have a serious need for more hands of support.” The age restrictions right now are 8 to 64 years old. Those who are under the age of 16 need a parent to volunteer with them. Those who are 16 or 17 will need a signed liability waiver (attached). See MANNA’s COVID-19 Response site at https://www.mannafoodbank.org/covid-19/ to learn more and sign up for volunteer shifts.
- Homeward Bound of WNC is on the front lines helping those who are experiencing homelessness in WNC. Their AHOPE Day Center is now open every morning, and they are doing a collection drive. Here are the details:
Items critically needed at this time include: Camping gear, toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, disinfectant cleaning supplies including wipes, regular baby wipes, disposable gloves, towels, soap, underwear, socks, and unopened (without the seal broken) over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and cold medicine.
Collection of these much needed items is happening at Homeward Bound’s Welcome Home Donation Center located at 205 Elk Park Dr in Woodfin. Donors may drop them off any time of day, but preference is between 11:00am and 2:00pm outside the front door and placed in the donation bins. In an effort to promote social distancing and to curb any potential spread of illness, donation center doors will not be open to the public and donated items will be sanitized upon receipt.
- Beloved House reaches out to those living on the margins in amazing ways. They, too, are receiving donations. See the details in their flyer and updates each day on Facebook.
In closing, I found these words from Richard Rohr (Love Alone Overcomes Fear: Thursday, March 19) very appropriate:
“We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love.”
May we all lean into one another and lean into love, knowing we are in this together.
AYM Mission Immersion Director