Celebrating Our Volunteers--National Volunteer Week 2021

We're excited to share a handful of the incredible volunteers who show up in our community, giving their time, talent, and care in service of their fellow neighbors, in support of building a stronger community. It is through this process of showing up, in both small and big ways, that our communities our woven and re-woven stronger. And at United Way, that is what we call Living United. During National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, we want to thank all of the volunteers who show up to share their time as they're able. 

Meet a few incredible Volunteers from this past year...



Americorps Volunteer Shifts Service to Help Distribute 100,000+ Face Masks to Local Nonprofits

Americorps member and Western Carolina University graduate Rachel Miller was serving through Project Mars (Mentoring, Resources, and Academic Success) at Ira B. Jones Elementary when the coronavirus pandemic hit. As an Americorps project that serves under Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, Miller supported students in the school to ensure their needs both inside and outside the classroom were addressed. When the school was shut down in light of COVID, she connected with United Way's Volunteer Engagement Director Michelle Bennett to shift gears in the community and offer her support to our increased work.

Her support was greatly welcomed as we worked to distribute 100,000 face masks to over 400 nonprofits serving our community on the frontlines throughout Western North Carolina. Thank you Rachel!



Sewing 1,000+ Face Masks for Community

Before the threat of COVID-19 hit Buncombe County, seventeen-year-old Jo Gratz was ready to take the test to obtain her driver's license when the DMV closed and a Stay Home Stay Safe order was put into effect. She began to see the call for fabric face masks and shifted gears with an early knowledge of sewing and a stock-pile of fabric at home. After creating her own pattern, she started a website and offered a tutorial so her friends could join in and help if they were able. Gratz said she wanted to find something she could do in the spare time she now had from home and wanted to help her community during the crisis, which she did indeed, donating over 1,000 masks to the community.



Mother and Children Make Sandwiches for Homeward Bound WNC

Financial Planner and Finance Coach Maui Vang said it hit her one day as she was watching the disparity in the impact of the coronavirus in our community. She realized she and her family wanted to use the privileges they felt so generously afforded in being safely home with their needs fully met to support those who weren't in the same position. She and her children found a volunteer need they could fulfill safely from home to make sandwiches and baked goods to be distributed through Homeward Bound WNC for those without homes in our community. Thank you Maui and family!



Serving Meals Through Salvation Army through COVID-19

Case Manager at FIRST at Blue Ridge by day and active community volunteer by afternoon and night, Allen Foiles said he "knew there was a way he could help the community while in crisis and hang out with good people." And that is exactly what he did after finding the need for volunteer cooks at Salvation Army through our Hands On Asheville-Buncombe volunteer site. As a case-manager at a peer-led modified12-Step Therapeutic community east of Asheville, helping others is something Allen does every day.

He said he realized early on that he doesn't have money to donate, but he does have energy, enthusiasm, and a big heart. Thank you Allen!