“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me.” — Matthew 25:40

Last year's highlights

In 2011, Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry provided 14,200 client services, an average of almost 60 client services per day — an increase of 1,997 over 2010. An average of 630 client households, or 1,890 people, were assisted each month.

Our clients typically need help with utilities. Our funding sources included the Community Lenten Services, our Annual Worship Service, and donations from churches and individuals. In addition, our friends at Highland Farms faithfully raise money for our fuel fund. In fact, 25 percent of the 2011 income received from individuals — more than $67,000 — came from more than 100 Highland Farms residents, and about 20 people from Highland Farms are SVCM volunteers. We’re thankful to all the residents for their continued support. SVCM received about $143,850 in federal heating assistance for Valley clients through the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP), administered through the Department of Social Services.

During 2011 we gave away food valued at approximately $295,080. This provided food to an average of 300 households a month. Our monthly cash expenditures were almost $2,500. Part of the funding for food came from churches, individuals, and the Hunger Walk, which raised over $17,000. After expenses, 75 percent helped buy food for our pantry, and 25 percent went to Church World Service.

The majority of food available in our food pantry comes from donated sources. Individuals in the community as well as churches from the Valley have food drives throughout the year. 2011 was our second full year of participation in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This enabled us to distribute 3,752 boxes of food, each containing an average of eight different items, serving an average of 249 different families each month. TEFAP food is received from the US Department of Agriculture through Manna at no cost to us. Volunteer Mike Levi coordinates the TEFAP program for us.

SVCM serves as the community pick-up site in the Swannanoa Valley for the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers delivered 7,268 hot meals to homebound residents in 2011.

Many clients have medical needs not covered by government or private programs. During 2011, SVCM spent $12,515 assisting our clients with their medical expenses. Of this, the Swannanoa Valley Medical Center gave us grant funding of $9,000. The balance of the money came from gifts from the community.

We are very thankful for three foundations who wish to remain anonymous that during 2011 gave a total of $35,000 to help us meet the ongoing needs of our clients.

After losing several of our homeless citizens to the elements in the winter of 2009-10, the Ministry decided to do its best to prevent such tragedies. We are pleased to report that the Swannanoa Valley Emergency Shelter is now in its second year at the Black Mountain First Baptist Church. In 2011, the shelter was open 96 nights, with 13 the highest number of guests on any given night. About 80 different people were served in 2011, and the 150-plus volunteers who supervised the shelter and churches and individuals who provided food made it possible. Thanks to generous individuals in the Valley who contributed about $19,000, the shelter now has a handicap-accessible shower, and in the near future a laundry facility will also be available for shelter guests. We are greatly indebted to First Baptist Church for facilitating the changes to their Fellowship Hall area that made the Shelter possible.

Valley clubs and organizations continued to support SVCM. We continued to have a great partnership with the Black Mountain/Swannanoa Kiwanis Club. We shared surplus clothing and household goods with the Kiwanis Thrift Shop. In addition, Kiwanis gave us funding for client basic and emergency needs and scholarship funds for job skills training and educational opportunities. Kiwanis also hosted the third annual spaghetti dinner, with all profits coming to the Ministry. Kiwanis contributions to SVCM for 2011 were almost $25,000. Other clubs giving financial assistance include the Lion’s Club of Swannanoa, Owen High Key Club, Montreat Conference Center & Cottagers, Women of the Moose, Black Mountain Masonic Lodge, Black Mountain Golf Club, PSMI Charity Golf, and others.

We received a $50,000 grant from the Janirve Foundation to assist with clients’ utility, housing, vehicle gas, food, and many other basic and emergency needs. We are sincerely grateful for all that the Janirve Foundation has provided through funding for Ministry clients over the years.

Some of our clients experience severe emotional trauma, and many have difficulty stretching their income. We have three talented volunteers who helped in these areas. Pastoral Counselor the Reverend Dr. Sandra McClinton continued to offer clients’ emotional guidance and referrals as needed. The Reverend Dr. Jey Deifell also assisted with client counseling as needed. Financial Counselor Barry Curtis continued to help clients recognize budgeting weaknesses and establish a plan to enable them to spend more wisely and get on a path to being debt-free.

Many of our elderly or infirm clients are not able to do minor cleaning and “handyman” repairs and chores in their homes. During the year, several groups assisted us with these needs. We coordinated with the XFuge Ridgecrest Mission Group to do work on homes in the Valley. The volunteers, all middle and high school students with adult supervision, did yard work, interior and exterior painting, general cleaning, and other tasks for residents who could not afford to hire someone and were unable to do this kind of work for themselves. In addition, Prison Fellowship and the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women made extensive repairs to two homes in the Valley as part of a Community Service Project.

A number of caring people joined with us to help a Valley couple who desperately needed a livable handicap-accessible mobile home to replace their falling-down house. Mountain Housing Opportunities, Meadowbrook Baptist, Swannanoa First Baptist, and many other churches and Valley residents worked with us to help pay for the new home, and the two-year process finally bore fruit early in 2011.

We’ve been able to help some clients to better prepare for the working world. We’re fortunate to have Blair McKee, who previously assisted Jean Leichte (now retired) in the GED program that meets three days a week in space provided by SVCM in the Opportunity House. To date, 30 people have graduated from the program. An anonymous donor funds a $25 Ingles gift certificate for each GED graduate.

During 2011 SVCM was able to assist 24 students with further educational and job training opportunities provided by A-B Tech. Types of assistance totaling $13,576 include tuition, books, professional license, exam fees, uniforms and supplies, and help with travel expenses. Funding comes from a $25,000 matching foundation grant, the Kiwanis Club, and a few individual gifts.

None of our work can be accomplished without our wonderful 200 dedicated volunteers working together. Under the leadership of Volunteer Coordinator Chuck Williams, over 25,000 hours of service were provided. Volunteers continued to be the backbone of this great Ministry!