By Sherrie Norris
The hours are counting down. You have been blessed financially and are searching for a place to put those extra dollars. You want your gift to make a difference, not just for a little while, but for a long time to come.
You don’t have to look far, friends. All it takes is a visit to Hospitality House in Boone and you will know that you have made the right decision. But, if you don’t have the time to drop in at this late date, let us help you visualize the face of homelessness as you prepare to make an online donation or write your check today.
According to Tina Krause, the shelter’s Executive Director, your support is critical to helping continue the mission of providing housing, hunger relief, counseling, critical services and crisis assistance to the most vulnerable members of our community.
If you haven’t already done so, Krause and her staff ask that you please consider an end-of-year gift to Hospitality House.
Need more information? We’ll be glad to help.
Consider the fact that Hospitality House has been serving the people of Northwest North Carolina mountain counties for 35 years, operating multiple housing programs that give those who’ve fallen on hard times a chance to live on their own again.
So far, this year alone, the organization has moved 114 women, children and men into independent housing, places of their own, that they can now call home. “I’ve lived outside, off and on, pretty much my entire life. Today I got my own place. No way that would have ever happened without Hospitality House,” said Zeb, 64.
Others in that number include:
- 25 chronically homeless individuals like Zeb — some who have lived outside anywhere from five to 25 years in tents, cars and barns.
- 14 survivors of domestic violence and their children.
- 4 children being raised by a single grandparent.
- 3 victims of elder abuse.
- 1 multigenerational family of seven living out of a vehicle.
What about the hundreds who come through those doors, day in and day out, all year long, needing a place to stay, for one night – or more?
The statistics are mind-boggling, to say the least. Who would imagine that 100-plus men, women and children are living there at any given time?
Krause and her staff tell us that when we think about homelessness, the media, over the years, has put an image in our minds. “We carry that image of what homeless people look like with us, allowing it to influence us.”
But, she implores us, “Have you ever stopped, I mean really stopped, to take a look at the face of homelessness?”
Hear what she has to say about where she works, every day, trying to make a difference in the lives of her clients:
“Maybe it would surprise you, if you were volunteering at Hospitality House, serving a meal in our community kitchen, when a small child — barely big enough to peer over the counter — carries a plate through the line and points at the spaghetti you made. Then, with a big smile on her face, asks for a bowl of fruit to go with it. As you watch that child take a seat next to her visibly strained, exhausted parent, you notice the child is dressed in her pajamas, ready for bed, like most other children her age. Except, she’s not sleeping in her own bedroom — or even her own bed.”
Then, Krause asks you to visualize this scenario: “As you focus once again on the serving line, here come two teenagers pushing, laughing and bouncing up in front of you with plates. They watch as you measure out the next servings, their eyes looking down at the pan, willing you to add just one more scoop of spaghetti to their plates. They look just like the kids your grandson goes to school with.”
People continue to stream through the line, some smiling and saying “thank you” as you place the piping hot pasta on their plates, Krause shared. “Some not making eye contact at all, because, in their world, trust is not easy.”
“As the line begins to thin out, you hear someone say, ‘Hurry up, buddy, we don’t have all night.’ A man, who looks to be disabled, is pushing his walker slowly through the line, trying to hold his plate and silverware with one hand. He reaches your spot, looks up at you with watery eyes and says, ‘I will have some, if you don’t mind.’ You look around to see who is helping him, then you realize that he is alone. As you fill his plate with spaghetti you wonder, ‘How did this man, who should be living in a nursing home, end up homeless? What could have happened?”
This is what homelessness looks like, Krause shares. “This is the face of homelessness in the rural mountain counties of Northwest North Carolina. When you come through the doors of Hospitality House, you will see these faces — the faces of people who have experienced economic hardship, sickness and sometimes mental illness that has gone untreated for years. You will see teenagers who aged out of the foster care system. You will see survivors of sexual assault, human trafficking and domestic violence. You will see elderly men and women, tossed aside by their families for being a burden. You will see children who are longing for a place to call home again.”
And, the best part of it all, Krause adds, “You will see hope. You will see solutions. You will see success. You will see personal victories. And you will look directly into the face — and eyes and heart — of homelessness.”
It is the hope of Krause, her staff, board members, friends, volunteers – and yes, residents of Hospitality House, that you will open your hearts (and bank accounts!) to helping them meet the ever-present needs at the shelter. You may make a secure online contribution by following the prompts at
http://www.hosphouse.org/ or mail your check to Hospitality House (w/ EOY 19 in the memo line) PO Box 309 Boone, NC 28607 Attn: Todd Carter.
If you would like to drop your gift by in person, please do so at 338 Brook Hollow Road in Boone.
All contributions dated 12/31/2019 or before are eligible for a 2019 tax-deduction to the extent allowed by law.
For more information, call (828) 264-1237.