By Sherrie Norris
For 38 years, the Hunger and Health Coalition in Boone has been feeding the hungry and meeting needs in a variety of other ways for the residents of the High Country and beyond. What better way to honor such a great milestone than to throw a party to celebrate?
That’s exactly what Executive Director, Elizabeth Young, and the folks at HHC are doing — and you are invited to join in the fun.
They tell us it’s all about celebrating its accomplishments — in addition to the ongoing support it receives from the community. The party will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the HHC on Wednesday January, 15.
Young hopes that “anyone and everyone who wishes” will stop by and stay for as long as they please. “We hope to see everyone there to share a little cake, spread the cheer and give thanks for allowing our team of staff, board members and volunteers to make such a huge impact on the lives of community members. No singing is required so feel free to stop on by!”
And those attending birthday parties know it’s always nice to bring a gift. “If community members would like to bring gifts, we ask that you bring cake mixes, brownie mixes, frosting, balloons, candles or party treats to help those in need have celebrations of their own,” Young added.
What a great idea!
“It’s our way of thanking the community for its continued outpouring of support over the years,” Young added. “We want everyone to come out and enjoy cake, punch and an abundance of cheer and help us recognize each and all community members who helped HHC get to where it is today.”
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!
Young takes us back in time, when it all started — in a closet at Boone United Methodist 38 years ago. It has since evolved into a one-stop shop for many community members who receive a myriad of services there, she added. “Not just for community members of Boone, but also for a few other surrounding counties.”
Young said she is “is blown away yearly” at the outpouring of support from local residents and business leaders.
“We are overwhelmed, not just for this year, but every year, at the amazing amount of love and support Boone has shown for our organization,” Young stated. “Our mission is simple — to help our neighbors in need — and without this community, it would simply not be possible. We continue to see amazing growth throughout the years. We have certainly come a long way since 1982.”
It was Joan Chater of Blowing Rock, who started it all, Young reminds us, a compassionate woman who wanted to help those who needed it most. And, with the help of a couple of friends, Chater began distributing food from the closet of Boone United Methodist in 1982.
“Once the organization outgrew the closet, it was relocated to a site on King Street,” Young said.
And, it began taking on a personality all its own.
“In the mid- 1990’s, the HHC began tackling the difficulties experienced by clients who faced an arduous decision each month — using their limited resources on food or prescription medications.”
So it was, in 1995 the free pharmacy was introduced as a service of the organization.
By 1999, two other vital programs had joined HHC, including The Food Recovery Program and the Individual Drug Program.
Today, Young shared, the organization continues to occupy a space that was formerly the Watauga County Health Department, allowing the organization to help serve more than 37,000 client visits annually.
Last year, more than 150,00 pounds of food were collected from local restaurants and grocery stores that were converted into take-home meals for clients, she said. “More than $3.5 million worth of prescriptions were distributed in the last year, allowing for 4,630 clients to not have to choose between life sustaining medication or food on their table.”
New programs, such as A Simple Gesture, have also helped to keep the shelves stocked during fluctuating seasons.
“In its first year, ASG collected 47,644 pounds of food that was immediately stocked on the shelves and distributed to clients,” Young said.
And these are just a few of the special ways that Hunger and Health Coalition partners with the community to help the High Country.
What an amazing organization with amazing staff members, volunteers and clients who have made it what it is today.
Plan now to come out on Wednesday and help celebrate its past, present and future.
The HHC is located at 141 Health Center Drive just east of Boone off Bamboo Road. Operating hours are Mon.-Fri., 8:30a-4:30p
For more information, call 828.262.1628.