Looking Back: 5 Inspiring Stories of Community in Action in 2019
As we continue to move forward into a new year and this next decade together, we're reflecting on the highlights from this past year and how we were able to collectively show up, support one another, and create a more equitable place for us all to call home. Through community volunteerism, corporate and small business sponsorship, leadership giving, and educational events, we were able to accomplish so much together, proving the impact we can have when we choose to Live United.
Take a look at these Top Five Stories of Community in Action in Buncombe County for inspiration in the year ahead and consider how you might choose to show up, learn more, give back, and grow into this next year:
Seventh grade students in Mrs. Portugal's class at Asheville Middle School put their lessons into action yet again, drawing up business plans to pitch their homemade saltwater taffy, duct-tape wallets, hand-drawn comics, and more to to a team of local investors sourced from our amazing network of leadership givers. Learn more about this project-based learning experience that we help facilitate alongside Asheville Middle and how these students stepped up to the Cougar Tank Challenge with help from our donors and volunteers.
Since 2007, with the help and support of local businesses, volunteers, and community members, our School Supply Drive has allowed over 12,000 students to walk into their first day of school fully prepared. With 608 students identified as homeless in Buncombe County Public Schools during the 2018 school year and more than 14,500 students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, the School Supply Drive is one way we rally Buncombe County residents to come together to support students and families in our community. With your enthusiasm and generosity, we reached our 2019 goal, ensuring 2,500 students had the tools they needed to Backpack to the Future.
Parent involvement alongside school staff, community partners, and students is one of several crucial components in the Community School Strategy we employ in four local middle schools. We have exciting news from Asheville Middle School to share soon, so let's piggyback off of Erwin Middle last year as we witnessed parent leadership grow stronger as volunteers from the community joined forces alongside parents to form the Parent Leadership Team. "You meet a lot of other kids and their parents or guardians here and you see how they're working with their kids and you get to communicate with them on the same level and work together," shared parent Mishelle Allen, who volunteers weekly at Erwin Middle as part of the Parent Leadership Team. Learn more about how the Erwin community is coming together to share resources, dinner, mentorship, connection and more each week during Homework Diners.
Wells Fargo Branch Manager, Asheville native, and Erwin High School graduate Malina Blanton is a dedicated volunteer in our community. In 2019, she shared her time serving a meal at an Erwin Middle School Homework Diner, packing food bags for students through MANNA Foodbank, and supporting students alongside fellow Wells Fargo team members in Asheville Middle's Reality Store project (which our volunteer center Hands On Asheville-Buncombe helps staff with teams of workplace volunteers). Check out her inspiring story and find an outlet to plug in, meet new people, and show up in the community in an exciting new way this year.
From an 80's Lip Sync Battle in 2018 filled with neon wind pants, thick gold chains, and sideways ponytails to 2019's stellar Motown review, our community continues to outdo itself each year at our annual Campaign Kickoff. Whether you were fully costumed and ready to perform or supporting the team's re-enacting their favorite songs from the dance floor, your enthusiasm and advocacy in championing this work were invaluable to use in kicking off our 2019 fundraising campaign. While the donations continue to roll in, revisit the magic from that night in this recap video of the 2019 United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Lip Sync Battle.
Dig in and find a way to show up in community this year that feels good for you:
- Discover a volunteer project through Hands On Asheville-Buncombe
- Learn more about our Leadership Giving Groups
- Donate to support our work in the community