Personal Stories of Service

“God’s work. Our hands.” describes who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.

Read below the stories from some of those who have been touched by service.

The Attic Boys & Girls Club
Habitat for Humanity Hendersonville Rescue Mission
Safelight

The Attic

The Attic is a ministry of Grace that provides furniture at no cost to those in need. This is a story from the volunteers who were working one evening in January 2016.

We went to The Attic after all tonight, and the snow was not a problem. Shortly after getting there, a young woman and her mother showed up. The young woman had just given birth about 12 days ago and had just moved into her own place and had no furniture whatsoever. She saw some things she wanted but had no way to get the furniture home. They thought they might be able to find someone with a truck and promised me they would call me no later than 5:30 p.m. to let me know if they had found someone and would be coming back. About 15 minutes later, a guy with a truck pulled up. They had found this guy at a neighbor’s house, asked if he would help them, and he agreed. He was a complete stranger. Another car with family members also came to help them. They picked up a practically brand new Lazyboy couch, a bed and several other items. The young woman and her mother were so happy and excited with the assistance they received. They wanted me to tell Grace Lutheran Church how blessed they felt and how grateful they were. The young woman had a huge smile on her face when she left, and she and her mother both hugged me. I am always heartened by the generosity of complete strangers who often help those getting assistance from The Attic to move their furniture to their homes. I have seen this happen several times during my volunteer tenure. I wanted to pass this story along and thank every one of the volunteers who donate their time and energy to this ministry. It takes everyone working together to make it happen and this ministry really does  make a difference in people’s lives.

Boys & Girls Club

Story of Jose R. … Jose graduated from North Henderson High School. He has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County for six years. He will attend UNC Chapel Hill this fall, where he ultimately plans to study Cardiology. He was a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.

I came to this country at two years of age. Being the bridge between an old culture and a new culture created a lot of pressure in our home. At times, it was very stressful to let go of the old and embrace the new. As the oldest son, I was expected to work with my dad in the fields while keeping up with my grades, sports, and my own after-school job. At the age of 17, I had many jobs: translating for my family, working in the apple orchards with my dad, and taking care of my younger brother. But earning a position with the Junior Staff at the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County has been a defining accomplishment in my life. I have learned to prioritize, be responsible, and most importantly, I have learned that hard work is the engine that drives my dreams. I worked extremely hard to earn my job at the Club. As a student athlete, I also put in many hours to improve my running, eventually earning the title of captain on both my cross country and track teams. Along with these accomplishments, I was also elected Senior Class President.

The Club is where I found role models I could relate to. Some of them were peers, while others were staff members. Either way, these people helped me realize my full potential. It was my goal to do the same for the kids that I worked with every day at the Club. It is also my hope to continue to be a role model for my community. The Club taught me leadership skills that I have been able to use in all aspects of my life. I am looking forward to utilizing all of the skills that I have gained from hard work, my culture, and life lessons. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life as the first student to graduate from college in my family. I am looking forward to embarking on a career that gives back to my community. Most importantly I am looking forward to becoming a member of the mainstream American dream.

Habitat for Humanity

Breaking ground for Habitat for Humanity home. Bianca’s story … The “2016 Thrivent Builds Habitat Interfaith Home” will be owned by Bianca, a single mother with two young children. They currently rent one bedroom from a paternal grandmother of the children. All three share this bedroom with one bathroom. They keep a cot in the closet during the day and bring it out at night for one of the kids to sleep on. Bianca is working on her nursing education at Blue Ridge Community College while working full time at Pardee Hospital and part time at Park Ridge Health. She is originally from Hendersonville and is working hard to provide a better life for her children. She is grateful for the support of all the churches who have helped build her new home and is looking forward to the day when she receives the keys.

Hendersonville Rescue Mission

We are most grateful to have received a letter from “Rebeca” testifying to how her life was turned around at the Hendersonville Rescue Mission. Below is Rebeca’s story.

“I got in trouble and was in jail for 19 days and … went to live with my son and his wife. They done what they could to get me around to find a job. But then I asked them to bring me to the Mission and that is where my new life began. I had good people that work there that gave me support, and they were there to help in any way they could.

When I stayed at the Mission, I got a job and I am glad to say I have put back money. I have a house and pay my bills … I am working on getting me a car and I don’t ask anyone for help if I don’t need it. The Mission is a great place to be if you really want to get your life back together … I asked God to help and he did. He showed me where I could get help … A lot of people thinks that the Mission is a bad place and that’s because they don’t want to change. But if I had not went to the Mission, I would of been back in jail or on the street. I am 59 years old and the Mission help me to get a new life and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Safelight

creating hope, healing lives, changing community … 

Strength and hope radiate from Janice the moment she speaks; it’s hard to imagine this has not always been the case. Janice didn’t know where to start after ending a 12-year abusive relationship and the death of a friend. Struggling to stay sober left her in a deep depression. Janice left the Henderson County Family Justice Center lobby three separate times in the years prior before admitting, “I need to do this for me.”

She finally entered the Safelight shelter in February 2015. Even though she had been sober four months, she began her time at the shelter feeling like she was in a hole. Large debts loomed and she had no job, car or license and was on probation. Two months later, Janice started an internship at Dandelion Eatery, Safelight’s job training restaurant. Counseling and appointments with her caseworker gave Janice the opportunity to set and achieve goals. “Even when I didn’t believe in myself they always believed in me,” Janice said.

Today, Janice is over a year sober, off probation, living in transitional housing, has paid off all of her fines, has her license and owns a car. She is a chef and intern trainer at Dandelion. She loves to inspire others and to watch interns blossom. “That part of my job is beyond fulfilling,” she says.

With help from the counseling provided for her children, Janice’s family has flourished as well. Janice is thankful for all she has learned and achieved through this journey and is eager to help others in similar situations.