PubCorps relaunches at The RailYard, packs 60,000 meals
John Richardson wants to fight what he calls “the crisis of loneliness.”
He said he started this fight with the launch of PubCorps, his nonprofit that now works to pack meals for MANNA FoodBank.
Richardson opened what is now Black Mountain Pizza & Ale House in 2011. He said, at its inception, PubCorps was a way for the team to get together and give back to the community. At the beginning, this meant going to Asheville and volunteering with the homeless community.
“We would go and volunteer in Asheville and then come back and have a beer together,” Richardson said. “In terms of team building and doing our job, that was one of the most fun things we did all year together as a team.”
He said his team was doing the volunteer work once a year and started calling it PubCorps. The name stuck and in 2019, Richardson said he started working more seriously at it. He assembled a team of private investors and started working to make it a more regular occurrence.
Richardson said the onset of the pandemic increased his desire to work on the project.
“We’ve been battling this thing called the crisis of loneliness for the last couple of years, more so since COVID,” Richardson said. “I think that was really the thing that got us inspired to really give it a shot at making it into something more regular.”
He said one of the cures for loneliness and hurting is to go out and volunteer and help someone else. Richardson said “it makes you feel better.”
While the volunteer work is important, Richardson said the conversation is “where the magic happens” in terms of combatting mental anguish.
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, PubCorps is now back up and running with a home base of The RailYard, another of Richardson’s ventures. He has described The RailYard as an “incubator,” especially for community-driven activities.
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“We knew we had a concept that worked, and we needed a place to do it on a regular basis,” Richardson said. “Our goal is to continue doing this and reach more folks.”
PubCorps kicked off its presence at The RailYard on May 7 with the first Sunday volunteer brunch. These will continue monthly with volunteers packing meals to be distributed by MANNA FoodBank and receiving a free drink of their choice after.
Richardson said he would have been happy with 50 people showing up to pack 20,000 meals. On May 7, 180 volunteers packed 61,584 meals during the event.
He said he hopes to continue this work with PubCorps and make “Beer City” also known as “Volunteer City.”
“Create this model of giving back where Black Mountain becomes known for a community that is invested in itself,” Richardson said. “Then people come to Black Mountain because they know we’re doing good work.”