Ministry starts campaign to house homeless women, kids

Pam King
Special to BMN

Sixty-one children in the Owens School District have no home to call their own today. That was the startling message shared by Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry leaders at a recent event to kick off a fundraising campaign to build transitional apartments to house some of them and their mothers.

The “Hope for Tomorrow” campaign provide shelter for local women and their children, ministry board chair Burnace Roberts said.

The fundrasing campaign has a goal of $750,000. The money will allow the ministry to build four one-bedroom duplexes, creating eight apartments. One units will house an on-site manager who is also a trained life coach. The other seven units will be available for local families as the mothers learn new skills and the children enjoy stability in their lives.

Roberts gave thanks to an extended local family whose donation of land set the project in motion. Family members at the kick-off event described a 15-year dream to use the property just south of the Montreat gate to help women and children in some way .

The property, the site of a historic church, had been in their family for many years, one of the family members said. For the last five years, the family had been talking about what to do with it. When family members learned that their church had partnered with the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, all the pieces fell into place, the family member said.

Cheryl Wilson, the ministry’s executive director, explained some of the program details to the crowd of about 75 people gathered for the capital campaign kick-off event.

“We are working with the Buncombe County Schools homeless liaison, Christine Craft, to identify homeless families in the Owen District,” Wilson said. “They are living right here, right now and just want a place to call home. We will be looking for moms ready to break the cycle of homelessness and provide them a brighter future.”

SCVM plans to work with each mother by making available counseling, financial training and career training.

“We have many of these classes and programs already in place, and the residents of these new apartments will be able to plug in to these services,” Wilson said. “Our partners include Black Mountain Counseling, OnTrack WNC for budgeting classes, Bounty & Soul for information about nutrition and cooking, A-B Tech for career training, and many others. We seek to transform lives.”

The campaign has raised $120,000 toward the $750,000 goal, campaign leaders said. They hope to have cash and pledges to meet the goal by July, but with financing already in place, they have been able to start with site preparation, design work and the permitting process. “We considered remodeling the existing structure on the property, but it became apparent that was not feasible,” said Chris German, project architect.

All involved expressed enthusiasm for the opportunities that the project will provide young families.

“I’m doing this because we have a genuine concern and want to give back to the community,” said John Ewing of Ewing and McConnaughey Construction of Black Mountain. “This is more than just another job for us.”

Naming opportunities and flexible payment plans are available for donors, according to SVCM treasurer Bill Malcom. “Many small gifts add up to make a big difference too and are appreciated,” he said.

For more about the project or how to support the campaign, call Wilson at 669-9404.