100 Acts of Service: Staff Edition

Building Strong Communities Through Volunteerism

Mobilizing our neighbors to address crucial issues in our communities through volunteer service has been part of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s (UWABC) core mission since 2003. We believe that strong communities thrive when spaces are co-created that allow for social connectedness, active participation, and a sense of belonging. And this, more than anything else, is at the heart of UWABC’s volunteer center, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe.

That’s why on February 21st, as part of our 100 Acts of Service Centennial Celebration, UWABC staff joined together at several service project locations in support of our Community Schools. Knowing that our students deserve a welcoming environment with access to resources and teachers and that school staff need encouragement, we tackled four projects - sprucing up and organizing three Community School Resource Rooms and creating care kits for school staff. 



“Our work depends on community members stepping up to serve others, and showing up to make Buncombe County the community we know it can be. We shouldn't ask our business partners, donors, or community partners to do anything we wouldn't do ourselves. Plus, volunteering gets our team closer to the issues we are trying to address, helping us to understand them on a deeper level through direct experience.”

–Dan Leroy
UWABC President & CEO

Honoring our Past

Since its founding in 1921, UWABC has been known as a convener — bringing together the necessary people and resources needed to tackle crucial community issues and connect people to the support they need. We want to honor and thank the many community volunteers who over the past 100 years have given countless hours and expertise to make Asheville and Buncombe County a united and resilient community where everyone belongs and everyone thrives. We wouldn't be here without your selfless service!


“Partnerships are huge! We all have different talents, skills, and access to resources, so when we come together to tackle challenges, we all contribute in our unique way. An example of this has been our annual School Supply Drive. From purchasing supplies, packing bags, and distributing locally — we all work together to achieve the goal to support local students.  We build relationships along the way so that support, communication, and action is taken year-round, not just during the Drive.”

–Michelle Bennett
Former Director, Hands on Asheville-Buncombe

The Next 100

As we plan for our Next 100 years of impact, we are making a conscious decision to mobilize the incredible resources and partnerships we have built over the last century. Our focus makes it clear that the community school strategy now serves as the central organizing framework for everything that we do. But for this strategy to be successful, it must include an ambitious goal that is owned and supported by our whole community.

With input from more than 150 youth and community representatives, we’ve established a Bold Community Goal that By 2035, ALL Asheville City and Buncombe County students graduate from high school ready and fully prepared to pursue their goals and dreams. In order to achieve this goal, we are counting on volunteers like you.

Moving forward, it is our priority to focus a portion of our volunteer efforts in support of the United for Youth Network and our Community Schools. 


“Many of the volunteer opportunities that we provide and support are in alignment with creating a community that supports youth to be community, career, and college ready. I envision that we will continue this work by deepening our relationships with the community and ensuring our volunteer efforts enhance the areas of growth our community identifies as important. We will intentionally build upon our existing programs and the spirit of volunteerism to create even more opportunities for people to volunteer that center the priorities of the community.”

 –Aisha Shepherd
VP of Community Engagement


“Volunteering allows for a broader group of individuals to feel connected to their community. Not every person has the ability to contribute financially, but allowing for volunteer options provides more opportunities to engage in community connections. Through the Community School work, we're able to make connections with businesses, faith-based organizations, and local non-profits that can utilize the volunteer opportunities to support the community while also allowing for organizational growth.”

–Josh Wells
Owen Middle Community School Coordinator

Join Us

UWABC is about harnessing the energy and commitment of our whole community and directing it towards our toughest challenges and most compelling opportunities. Volunteering is one critical way that local community members can express that energy and commitment — by showing up firsthand to make a difference. Whether it's distributing food at a Community Engagement Market, tutoring an elementary school student, mentoring a teenager — or countless other options — we take our role of connecting willing volunteers to meaningful opportunities to serve others seriously because it is a key part of what makes a community resilient.