Co-Creating Community at Owen Middle School

Pisgah Legal CIMA United Way AshevilleCo-Creating Community: Local Nonprofits Share Supportive Services at Owen Middle

Earlier this year, Pisgah Legal Services and CIMA- Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Accion co-hosted a ‘Family Preparedness Clinic’ for immigrant families at Owen Middle School (OMS). Pisgah Legal, an innovative nonprofit founded in 1978 that provides legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina, serves over 16,000 of the most vulnerable people in our communities each year, assisting with urgent needs such as housing, safety from abuse, health care, and income. CIMA is a Latinx led organization that connects, strengthens and organizes communities to take action for immigrants’ rights in our community. And part of the work at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County is in collaborating with Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and local services to mobilize resources that support the health, education and financial stability of the community, using middle schools as a warm, connective, open space. And volunteers through Hands On Asheville-Buncombe are a vital part of that work, of our communities.

Bounty & Soul Owen Middle School Connecting Students and Families with Resources through Volunteer-Driven Nonprofits

“We really appreciate the opportunity to partner with United Way and other volunteer-driven community partners, including CIMA, Bounty & Soul and Buncombe County Schools to help connect immigrant families at Owen Middle School and the surrounding community with information and services to protect their legal rights and their families,” shares Pisgah Legal Director of Community Engagement Katie Russell Miller.

It was a great turnout for the ‘Family Preparedness Clinic’ around a needed service that United Way Community School Coordinator Josh Wells said he would like to see more of at the school. And of course this is one of many services being offered to students and families through the school. For many years, local volunteer-driven nonprofit Bounty & Soul has held their Thursday market there, offering OMS families, including a large Latinx population, a variety of free, fresh produce as well as cooking classes for students, nutrition classes in Spanish for adults and demonstrations, using OMS as the hub. “Programs like these really open up the school, creating a safe and welcoming environment for the community to engage in,” said Wells. “We are always looking to find new ways to engage our families and help provide the information and services needed by all families in our community.”

Volunteer! Be a Part of Our Community Schools

This collaborative partnership in our schools hones in on two important aspects of the ‘Four Pillars of the Community School Strategy,’ including Collaborative Leadership amongst school staff, students, parents, and community partners, AND Integrated Student Supports, including health and wellness programs + resources that address barriers to student success. Homework Diners are just one avenue in how we facilitate these partnerships and provide a space for students, families, and the community.  By volunteering to support the work of our local nonprofits as well as the work happening within these schools, you too can become an integral part of a Community School closest to you while meeting new people, learning about programs and activities in Buncombe County, and enjoying an afternoon with a friend or co-worker while being of service to your neighbors.

We invite you to explore volunteer opportunities in our Community Schools through our volunteer center Hands On Asheville-Buncombe.