It has been my great honor to volunteer and now serve on the board of directors for the Hospitality House of Northwest N.C. since retiring from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot in June 2018.

The Hospitality House of Northwest N.C., a homeless services agency providing housing, hunger relief and crisis assistance in seven counties including Wilkes, is just outside of Boone.

The nonprofit has been helping people transition from crisis to stability for over 30 years. A large number of the people served by the Hospitality House come from Wilkes or are living in long-term transitional scattered sites for families and individuals in our county provided by Hospitality House.

Much screening is done to be sure residents of the scattered sites are ready for the move and don’t need a shelter setting. The clients living in scattered sites have progressed through the Hospitality House programs before moving to a scattered site location.

Motivating me to volunteer at the Hospitality House was a story written by Laura Mitchell in an August 2016 issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. Her excellent article highlighted the many services provided by Hospitality House for clients coming from Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Yancey and Mitchell.

This quote in the article from Tina Krause, executive director of the Hospitality House especially resonated with me.

“I look at clients and think that could be me and my children. Homelessness looks a lot different than you imagine when it’s sitting beside you or looking back at you,” said Krause, a longtime resident of Wilkes.

I have found that to be overwhelmingly true, whether serving lunches at the community kitchen to families with young children or to individuals of all ages, helping to decorate for Christmas with clients or cleaning out a room to make way for the winter emergency shelter, which began Nov. 1.

Hospitality House staff, clients and volunteers have created a functional, living community while helping people in crisis become independent. Trauma, including domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction and job loss, can cause people to lose their homes.

“Most of the people served by the Hospitality House are homeless for the first time often because of economics - they can’t afford rent or mortgage, medication or food. Mental health crisis without sufficient support contributes to economic problems leading to homelessness,” said Krause in Mitchell’s article.

Once people in need finds their way to the Hospitality House, a coordinator evaluates their homeless situation, guiding them through the steps to begin rebuilding their lives while providing the structure of accountability needed to be successful.

An array of services help in that endeavor - counseling leading to independence, assistance with rental and fuel costs, a food pantry and community kitchen, an amazingly large community garden and more.

Twenty percent of the operational costs for the Hospitality House comes from federal and state funds. Fundraisers, donations from area churches, individuals, local governments and more from the seven-county area help provide the rest.

The High Country Turkey Trot 5K, an annual fundraiser for Hospitality House on Thanksgiving Day, will once again be held but look a little different because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year it will take place virtually, from wherever the racers, runners and walkers are during the week of Thanksgiving, from Nov. 19-26.

Since 2011, the Turkey Trot has raised over $230,000 and close to 10,000 pounds of food to support the mission of the Hospitality House of Northwest N.C.

For more information and questions, email Todd Carter, Hospitality House director of development, at todd@hosphouse.org or call 828-264-1237, ext. 6. For more details, go to HospHouse.org, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter@HospHouseNWNC.

Frances Hayes

North Wilkesboro, N. C.

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