BOONE — On Tuesday, July 29, the Hospitality House of Boone hosted a Pig Pickin’ and open house for Ashe County residents, providing free meals and tours for the community to learn more about the homeless situation in the High Country region.
At any given time, the Hospitality House is assisting approximately 100 individuals and families in the High Country. Of that, approximately 15 percent of those helped are from Ashe County.
According to statistics from the Ashe County Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 80 percent of the homeless in Ashe County are women and children,which is the highest in the Hospitality House’s seven county district.
“People need to know that while we’re in Boone, we’re also an Ashe County agency,” said Todd Carter, director of development for the Hospitality House. “We’re proud to be serving in Ashe County.”
A meal consisting of pulled pork and barbecue chicken, baked beans, cornbread and watermelon was provided free of charge, along with a choice of sweet tea, coffee or water.
This year marks 30 years that the Hospitality House has been serving the Boone area — and 19 years the nonprofit has served Ashe County.
In March 2011, the Hospitality House relocated from a small house on King Street to its new location off Bamboo Road on the eastern side of Boone. Part of the expansion included the ability to take in more homeless individuals, including entire families.
“We are one of the few place that takes in families, and that was really important to us,” Carter said. “We always make it work, somehow we make it happen.”
Along with providing housing, the Hospitality House also allows its residents to work in its kitchen, computer lab, gardens and other facilities as a way to support themselves.
Carter said last year the Hospitality House was experiencing a $67,000 shortfall. Alongside the $5,000 given to the Hospitality House by the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, donations have also been given by West Jefferson First Baptist Church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and others.
“We are just working to ease that shortfall, so it can allow us to continue serving Ashe County in a way that it needs to be served,” he said. “We were very thrilled that the Board of Commissioners have recognized the issue of homelessness in Ashe County and are committed to work together on it.”
Carter said aside from Ashe County, only the Town of Boone has provided money to help support the shelter. Watauga and Avery counties did not, and they will be asking Wilkes County at a later date, due to the difference in scheduling with their commissioners.
Carter said in the fall, the Hospitality House will be collaborating with the Ashe County Coalition for the Homeless for an awareness event.
For more information on the Hospitality House of Boone, visit www.hospitalityhouseofboone.com, or call (828) 264-1237.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.