BeLoved Celebrates the Fruits of Mutuality, Community Building, and Putting Love Into Action Together for the Last Five Years
Ø Over a hundred friends came home, off the streets, and out of homelessness to live in our residential community/transitional housing program and serve as leaders in our work.
Ø 24/7 we have lived side by side at the margins opening our doors to welcome and build community with the most vulnerable people in Asheville, offering safe space, support, and ways for folks to share their own gifts through community work.
Ø Eighteen friends came home, off the streets, and out of homelessness to live in our residential community/transitional housing program and serve as leaders in our work.
Ø We did overnight respite for folks who were sick or struggling with mental illness.
Ø Five days a week, we opened to hundreds of people living on the street to offer safe space, welcome, and support.
Ø We shared 2,600 meals and 7,800 cups of hot coffee and cool drink this year.
Ø Weekly, we did laundry for those on the streets doing 2,375 loads to bring hygiene and dignity to our friends on the streets.
Ø And we shared hundreds of thousands of clothes, blankets, back packs, toiletries, shoes, and other essentials for survival as well as food assistance both during our open hours and by emergency anytime day or night.
Ø 3,555 haircuts brought smiles and a sense of pride to friends on the streets who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a barber.
Ø Countless people participated in our healthy living classes like drama, creative writing, yoga, cooking and canning, support groups and art therapy.
Ø We began Rise UP Studio for our community to create and support themselves through the arts.
Ø We have given 50 instruments to musical artists and child artists-to-bethrough our Street Musicians guild
Ø Help to lead efforts to ensure that people who are homeless will not face discrimination for their housing status.
Ø We also were involved in many other social justice activities including the work for living wages, the International Day of Peace, the Campaign for Southern Equality, helping to premiere the Sojourners Community’s film, The Line, which chronicles life below the poverty line. And facing arrest with the NACCP Moral Monday Movement which is standing up for public school education, healthcare for everyone, support for the unemployed, and care for the environment.
Ø We also worked to teach about the work of building community on the margins by hosting countless youth groups through Asheville Youth Mission, hosting college students for service learning and teaching at University of North Carolina Asheville’s Hunger and Homelessness Week. We had both UNC Asheville and Warren Wilson students who did video projects with us.
Ø Once again, we did summer outreach to hundreds of children in public housing sharing back to school clothes and school supplies, children’s books and hosting summer enrichment activities for children and their.
Ø And we gleaned a whopping 25,000 plus pounds of healthy produce grown by local farmers that we were able to distribute to senior citizens and our low income neighbors. We also grew green thumbs by cultivating a community garden in our front yard.
Ø AND MOST OF ALL SHARING LOVE WITH PEOPLE AND PUTTING LOVE INTO ACTION!
DVD of our community released! You can view it here
IN MEMORY OF TAMI RENE LEAVEN
Our dear friend, Tami, was struck and hit by a car as she tried to bike to find a warm spot to sleep. Her death is tragic and we are deeply broken-hearted. We shared a beautiful memorial service where we remembered that Tami's last name--Leaven--is what causes bread to rise. Tami certainly was leaven to our community as she always lifted people up with her smile, her words of encouragement, and her gift of offering companionship. Tami loved life. After the service, we planted a memorial garden for her. Please remember the Leaven family in your prayers. Let us all commit to being leaven to the people around us and to working so that everyone has all that they need to survive and thrive.
OUR TRANSITIONAL HOUSING PROGRAM NOW HOUSES PEOPLE FROM THE STREETS.
Our residential community focuses on people who are homeless and are either disabled or ill. These people are particularly vulnerable to the streets and find that their conditions were worsening. Now they find safe space at Beloved and a place where they can heal and grow!
In the midst of the winter cold, we are sharing a sanctuary from the elements for our friends on the streets. We offer a warm space to relax with friends. At our day center, we have place for people to rest, find support, meet basic needs, and find positive community. Your support is needed to continue our work.
Smokey Train Hopper
One of the first people I met upon opening our community house was Smokey "the Train Hopper." Smokey was a well-guarded, wise soul with the grayest of ZZ Top beards. The gruffness of his hello warned me to tap down my enthusiasm. He sat in the corner and picked up a beat-up guitar and began to sing songs fit for campfires and beans. His eyes became alive singing lyrics of riding the rails. Suddenly, we all felt like kids circling around grandpa.
Smokey knew how to captivate a room with his story-telling about all his adventures riding the rails throughout this great land. And he spoke of something sad--of not loving anyone cause that leads to hurt. So right then and there I took it as a personal challenge to disprove his belief and get him to say, "I love you." I told Amy about my challenge. Smokey continued to come every day to share in fellowship and meals. He loved to cook and volunteered to cook some breakfast one morning. We had sausage and some eggs. Well this would never do he said. So a couple of hours later, he'd turned the small loaves and fishes we had into a miraculous feast--a five course meal! He beamed while serving folks--that same shine that came out while singing about riding the rails. Bells and whistles went off in my head. YES! YES! This is it right here! People feeling proud regardless of where they are at in life. People coming together sharing gifts and needs. It was great that within a couple of weeks here we were doing the damn thing! Community was happening!
Smokey continued to entertain us with stories and songs. One day, as we were closing up, Smoke reached out for a hug. We fell into a safe, cozy one and he whispered, "I love you, sister." HE SAID IT! HE SAID IT! The highest of honors. Flabbergasted, I told him I loved him, too, and celebrated my victory silently. Yes, we want to be love and we want everyone to know that they are loved and can live love.