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These heartwarming stories demonstrate the impact your donations to the WCMA have made on our local community. Click on the Grantee Name to learn more about the organization.
We have also begun our Telling Our Story 2020. Click here to learn more about it.
A small boy's story....
Grantee: MANNA Packs
Grantee: Girls on the Run
Thirteen year old Jaylyn struggled to enjoy school because she felt like she never fit in. Living with Cerebral Palsy, she had undergone surgery at seven years old with the hope of strengthening her legs so she might be able to walk. During her elementary years, she was able to learn to walk with leg braces. By the start of middle school, she could forgo the braces, but her noticeable limp became a subject for bullies. Jaylyn talked to her grandmother and her church family about wanting to live a normal life, and dreaming of being just like everyone else. She applied to a school where she thought she could fit in but it didn't take long for the same voices to begin teasing her and by the end of 7th grade, depression became a daily battle.
In 8th grade, Jaylyn joined "Heart & Sole," a Girls on the Run program, at The Catamount School. Her family applied for a scholarship to help defray the $150 cost to attend the 20-lesson program. She asked her grandmother and aunt to become her "sole sisters" and they began walking as far as they could every day, achieving small goals like she was learning in the "Heart & Sole" lessons.
Jaylyn and her team bonded as the running activities became more challenging. After two months, she was finally able to walk one full lap around the football field. The team would finish their day by circling back and walking with Jaylyn to finish the lap together. The new friends skipped along, sharing their snacks and positive self-talk phrases, helping Jaylyn's self-esteem grow.
Jaylyn and her "sole sisters" decided to attempt to walk all the way around the Asheville Outlet Mall for the end of season 5K celebration, setting the goal of walking nearly one mile. But when she heard the crowd cheering and knowing her team was out on the course, Jaylyn decided to go further. At the two-mile mark, her family was wondering if her exhaustion was at its limit and Aunt GiGi and friend Kari began singing songs to keep Jaylyn's mind off the pain in her legs. They were the last participants on the course, but then Jaylyn's entire team arrived. After finishing the 5K, they turned back as a group, like in practice, and ran to Jaylyn and her family. The joy became palpable as everyone started lifting Jaylyn's spirit and cheering her to the finish. Jaylyn broke into an exhausted trot to cross the finish line and receive her medal. Tears streamed down her face as everyone celebrated her personal victory. Jaylyn's grandmother told me, "You don't understand how much this means. Not only has she walked further than she has ever walked in her life, but she was not expected to walk at all"
With deepest gratitude,
Rebecca Tucker, Executive Director
Grantee: The Downtown Welcome Table
To provide some background; I have been involved with the DWT for just over 5 Years…as a volunteer, donor, and participating restaurant (Wicked Weed Brewing). It has been an honor and privilege to do so and I have learned a great deal FROM those I have helped to serve.
Despite his struggles, John had a smile on his face and an attitude of gratitude for the meal he was about to receive. It was his very first visit to The DWT and so I sat down with him as he prepared himself for some much needed and long overdue nutrition and hydration.
We continued to talk as the abundance of food began arriving at the table - all served by an amazingly loving and attentive group of volunteers, with real flatware, silverware and linen napkins. After 10 minutes or so, John conveyed to me (with some tears welling in his eyes) that this was the FIRST meal that had been SERVED to him in over 32 Years (THIRTY TWO YEARS!!!!).
My thoughts immediately went to how many of us complain about the most trivial matters and inconveniences, yet John was simply GRATEFUL and OVERJOYED for ONE Meal served to him. John taught ME a great deal about Life that Day and I will never forget him.
This is just one of the many stories that I could share and I am hoping that it will encourage other WCMA members to become involved, whether that be as volunteers or financial supporters.
Thanks so much for allowing me to share this.
Rick Guthy, WCMA Member
Grantee: Pisgah Legal Services
Courage is defined as the “ability to do something that frightens you” or “to show strength in the face of pain or grief.” In her young life, Kelly has done both on an extraordinary scale.
Kelly grew up in a religious cult. At 19 years old, without any experience with the outside world, she mustered the courage to leave knowing she’d be ostracized from all she had ever known. With $500 in her pocket, she boarded a plane for WNC to work as a nanny for relatives.
Later, after a whirlwind romance, she moved in with her boyfriend. After their child was born, the physical abuse began.
For years she endured his beatings and verbal abuse. Then, one night, he ruptured her eardrum. Kelly sought help from the police, Helpmate and Pisgah Legal Services, where she met attorney Julia Horrocks.
Although she found the court process terrifying, Kelly fought hard for a better life. Pisgah Legal secured a restraining order and emergency custody of her son. Her abuser was convicted of assault, and Kelly continues to fight for the best interest of her child.
Today, Kelly works two jobs, cares for her son and courageously speaks out about domestic violence. “I can show my son what it is like to be a strong person. For the first time in my life I feel free.”
A young man's story....
Grantee: Eblen Charities
There was a young man in high school that was only coming to school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The social worker at the school noticed this and went to the young man to ask him if he had a job on Thursday and Friday. He then explained to her that he only had one pair of clothes and by Wednesday he knew they did not smell too good. And while he could wash them in the sink, he did not have a dryer so they needed to be air dried which meant they usually were not clean by Friday. Eblen provided the young man with clothing and shoe vouchers so he could have more than one pair of clothes and could come to school every day.
Grantee: Mother Love Program at YWCA
My name is Belan. I am currently 18 years old. When I was fifteen I got pregnant - I was very scared. Both my boyfriend and I dropped out of school so he could get a job to help support us and I could look after my baby. I knew I wanted a better life for my daughter so I decided to go back and finish high school. In my second year I joined the MotherLove. I worked with a case manager every week and we would discuss how I was doing at school, plus she would ensure I had enough diapers and clothes for my daughter that MotherLove had received through donations. MotherLove also helped me with applying for scholarships to college. I go to school Monday to Friday and I was successful in getting my CMA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and I am now studying nursing.
The support of the MotherLove program has empowered me to finish my education and reach my goals to become a professional woman and give my daughter a better life.
Grantee: Asheville Humane Society
Jane was a victim of domestic violence. While working with a local domestic violence shelter, her two beloved dogs stayed in the care of the Asheville Humane Society through the Safe Pets program. Once Jane found a place to live, she was able to bring her dogs home. Jane called us a couple of weeks later. Unfortunately, her German Shepherd, Hattie, had developed a mass on her anal gland that was growing quickly. Jane was devastated – she had managed to escape her abuser with only her clothing and her dogs, and she had no money to even have Hattie seen by a vet. Her dogs were all she had left. Through the Veterinary Assistance Program, AHS was able to assist Jane in not only getting Hattie in for an exam, but also with part of the cost of the surgery, making it possible for Hattie to remain happy and healthy in her home where she is loved.
Grantee: Arts for Life
At age 12, Melia was in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. Imagine. She knew what was at risk; without a new heart, life would be limited. Imagine how that feels. How do you wait? How do you live with the stress?
Melia went to the Art Table. She painted. She drew. She created - all on one theme: hearts.
Her masterpiece was a beautiful dress created piece by piece with a healthy heart hidden inside. You couldn’t see the heart easily, but it was there.
Then one day, she received the ultimate gift: her own new heart. That made all the difference. A heart beating steadily gave her energy. It gave her time. It gave her life.
You are the heart for Arts For Life. Folks may not see you, but you are our life’s blood.
You are the heartbeat, making sure Arts For Life is there - giving seriously ill children the deep comfort of creativity.
We couldn’t do this without you.