A place to come when there is nowhere else to go.
With more than 500 men, women and children experiencing homelessness in our community on any given night, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries operates Asheville’s largest emergency overnight shelter. By providing food, shelter and clothing, our focus is to provide for the immediate physical needs of men, women and children at point of crisis in their life and to offer hope through the power of God’s love. We are here to help anyone in true need—assisting those who can and will help themselves, showing compassion for those who cannot and refusing to enable the few who would try to abuse the generosity of others.
When a hungry person sits down to a table to eat they move from the far fringes of society to a place of simple dignity. We want to help our clients eat like regular people to keep them from believing that the emptiness they experience is the most that they can expect from life. The majority of those we serve come to us first for a filling meal, only to discover the many other ways we can help. To feed the many men, women and children who will turn to us for help, we prepare nearly 300 meals each day. Breakfast is provided each morning to our overnight guests. Nutritious lunches are available to the public between 11am-1pm. Dinner is served every evening between 4:30 – 6:00pm. All of our meals are free and served with love by our faithful volunteers. In addition to the many individual meals served in our cafeteria, we also manage a food pantry. From this storehouse we distribute grocery items to needy families and the working poor throughout the community. Each food box is designed to provide a family of four with one week’s worth of food. By easing the burdens of those struggling to make ends meet we hope to prevent many who are managing limited resources and are at risk of experiencing homelessness from arriving at our shelter completely destitute.
Nothing strips a person of safety and security like the lack of a place to call home. For this reason hopelessness often goes hand in hand with homelessness. As a place of refuge and rest, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries has two separate shelters on our Ministry Campus. Our Men’s Emergency Shelter is outfitted with 44 bunks for homeless men while the Women and Children’s Center is equipped with 24 beds for single women and 16 family beds for mothers with children. This brings our sleeping capacity to 84. When extreme weather threatens, the use of floor mats allows us to temporarily accommodate as many as 115 people. Both overnight shelters operate from 5:00 pm to 7:00 am. Our doors close for the night at 6:00pm. In addition to a safe place to sleep, clients are provided with necessary toiletries, linens and the opportunity to shower. All overnight guests are required to attend a nightly chapel service. Although we serve clients regardless of their faith, our Ministry is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We believe that the truths found in the Bible are timely, effective and relevant in restoring broken lives and that sharing these life transforming principles with them is in the best interest of their personal long-term success. With the goal of helping clients move beyond the temporary refuge that the emergency shelter provides, we recognize that there is not only a need for assistance, but also accountability. Each adult client who desires to stay with us for more than three nights is required to meet with a staff counselor and develop an action plan; evaluating their circumstances, identifying available resources and setting measurable goals toward a more healthy and productive lifestyle. Our experience shows that regular counseling and marked progress on an established plan of action are effective in both discouraging complacency and promoting sustainable success.
The lack of clean, adequate clothing can pose a very real health risk to the people that we serve. When a person is outside safety of our shelter their only protection against the weather may be the clothes on their back. Exposure to the elements can result in everything from hypothermia and pneumonia to sunburn and heatstroke. The physical condition of a person’s clothing can also carry a social stigma, identifying them as an object of alienation or reproach. Through our Clothing Closet we work to provide for both the physical well-being of the needy and also to counter the perception that the poor are simply dirty, careless, and lazy. When we share a simple article of clothing, we affirm that they are a person and worthy of care.