Co-Creating Community



Part of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County's (UWABC) mission is to co-create opportunities for every person in our community to live free from poverty and injustice. What does this mission look like in practice? Like all community work, the answer is mired in the messy middle of meeting folks where they are, listening to their expertise and experiences, and collaboratively working together to solve problems.

Showing up collaboratively can look like seven community school coordinators working to address the invisible issues that undermine academic success; hunger, homelessness, violence, poor health, inequity, and other social problems. It can look like listening to community feedback and transforming the way we invest our dollars and resources in direct response to community voices. For us at Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, it means building on UWABC's rich history as a convener and bringing together the necessary people and resources needed to tackle crucial community issues through volunteerism.

A recent example of how we filled that convener role was our collaboration with Bounty & Soul and Northwestern Mutual. As a part of our 100 Acts of Service Campaign, a volunteer group from Northwestern Mutual spent a sunny March day collaborating with and supporting the food insecurity work of Bounty & Soul.

A 100% Locally Grown Effort

The programming at Bounty & Soul supports their mission through a direct food provision program called Produce to the People, an intentional effort to cultivate relationships with local food growers called The Farmers Alliance, and finally through their education initiative titled Rooted in Health.

Northwestern Mutual volunteers assisted with Bounty & Soul's Tuesday Market programming by unloading and staging boxes for the drive-thru market and sharing food and children's programming resources. The work from that day's Market had a positive impact on almost 300 households within the Black Mountain and Buncombe County community. These families received food, built community, and were connected to other resources like the diapers made available through Babies Need Bottoms. This illustration demonstrates the importance of partnerships and collaboration in creating impact and community building.

"Our team had an amazing day volunteering with Bounty & Soul. It was obvious from the moment that we arrived that this was a well-run operation. Regular volunteers sprang into action and the Director of Community Engagement, Karla, gave us very clear instructions and tasks to help set up the drive-thru market and operate our stations. Shortly thereafter, the community started driving through the market to collect their free produce, bread, flowers, and notes of encouragement. Everyone was so appreciative of the food, and some of the first-time market attendees had tears in their eyes. Bounty & Soul is aptly named — I think everyone’s soul felt nourished that day. We look forward to volunteering with them again in the future!”


Making an impact through community organizations partnering together to support the community is not a new approach for Bounty & Soul and United Way’s work together. Bounty & Soul has been an enthusiastic partner of UWABC’s volunteer center, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe since 2016, and has utilized the platform to extend its reach into the community and recruit volunteers who might not have otherwise been aware of Bounty & Soul’s mission. 

“This partnership is a great example of community helping community, we're inspired by what UWABC does for Buncombe County residents and how Hands On has been able to connect folks who might not otherwise know about our work with our cause.“

Be The Solution: Lend A Hand

Bounty & Soul and UWABC’s partnership through the Hands On Asheville-Buncombe volunteer center is a clear example of what is possible when organizations come together to highlight and lift up each other’s strengths while addressing problems within the community. If getting involved in this type of community work speaks to your desire to give back and help out, please check out any of the amazing volunteer opportunities hosted by Bounty & Soul today. Get out there and volunteer and experience the joy of connecting people with good food, building relationships, and community, and learning a little along the way.