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Black Mountain Home for Children expands volunteer lodging and parking

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Black Mountain Home for Children opened new lodging and parking space for volunteers on Oct. 8, the home announced.

Sarah Thomas, development and human relations officer, said that the developments are "part of an overall apprenticeship program and some new income-producing opportunities for the ministry."

Recent additions would provide additional spacing and housing for volunteers coming from other parts of the country.

"One of the couples who kind of inspired this whole thing has been coming here for more than a decade," Thomas said. "They live in South Dakota."

Volunteers who have continually returned to the home have provided "another way of creating stability and community for the kids that we're serving."

"One of the other neat things is that because they're here for a longer stretch of time, in normal days when we can interact more freely, they can then build relationships," Thomas said.

The resident volunteer park, aptly named the R.V. Park, will provide enough parking space for recreational vehicles. Thomas said that there are many couples who travel throughout the South, stopping in Black Mountain for weeks at a time to volunteer.

"These are volunteers who are going to make a commitment to stay for four weeks, six weeks, and they'll bring their RV and kind of move in," Thomas said. "They can tackle more long-term projects."

Its pool of volunteers is mostly compiled of skilled retirees, Thomas says, with electricians, painters and carpenters as regulars. In addition to interacting with the children, volunteers also participate in expanding the home.

Developments and connections built by the volunteers have been important to the home's future plans.

"They're incredibly valuable in terms of the time and commitment and the energy that they bring to the program," Thomas said.

While connecting children with volunteers, both Thomas and program director Jimmy Harmon say that the home is hoping to expand its programs for children to stay long-term.

Black Mountain Home for Children first opened as Mountain Orphanage in 1904 before moving to the Black Mountain area in 1922. It houses children from birth through college graduation who have been abused, abandoned or neglected.

"As a parent, you would always do your best to provide for your child, regardless of what their needs are," Thomas said.