The Hospitality House of Boone aims to create a safe environment that welcomes families and individuals, helping them to restore their lives and cultivate a community at the same time.
“[It is] very aptly named ‘the Hospitality House.’ — a house. Not [the] ‘hospitality shelter,’” Will Graham, shelter associate of Hospitality House, said.
At the Hospitality House, meals are served three times a day, beds are provided for an extended period of time to clients and every family is accepted and never turned away.
“Our mission is to rebuild lives and strengthen community by providing a safe, nurturing, healthy environment for individuals and families who experiencing homelessness and poverty related crises are equipped to become self-sufficient and productive,” Todd Carter, director of development at Hospitality House said.
Hospitality House was formed in 1984 by the Boone Coalition of Churches and was located at 302 W. King St. until the agency moved to its new location at 338 Brook Hollow Road in March 2011.
The new facility has three family rooms even though right now it currently houses eight families, housing the overflow in their conference room.
Hospitality House has experienced a steady increase since 2011 in bed nights, or how many heads are in each bed, especially in winter overflow where Hospitality House operates similar to a shelter in which they supply a meal and bed to anyone who walks in for the night. There was a 500 bed night increase from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014.
According to the latest census, Watauga County has the third highest rate of poverty in North Carolina at 31 percent.
Hospitality House serves seven counties in the High Country including Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties.
“We’re a program. We’re not a shelter. We’re a transitional living facility,” Carter said. “We’re just so much more than bed and bread.”
When clients enter, they are immediately entered into a program, paired with a social worker and case manager they meet with weekly and set goals toward rebuilding their life.
“When I went back to transition — the two-year program — the staff showed me such kindness and support,” David Grant, a permanent resident at Hospitality House recalls. “They made me feel like a member of a family — and I have no family. Everybody in my family’s dead … So I’ve adopted them as my family as well. And I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have friends and people that refer to you as family.”
Along with the initial program clients are entered into, Hospitality House offers therapy and job skills training through their agricultural initiative, Carter said. They grow fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs in their gardens.
With this initiative, Hospitality House will provide food for the Local Appetite, where Appalachian State Food Services will serve food from local farmers.
“[Hospitality House is] committed and concerned with the Town of Boone and their residents,” Rebecca Ewing, senior sustainable development major and Welcome Home Thriftique intern said. “They are committed to providing programs that will help the residents, but also allow the community to participate as well. It’s good because it’s not ostracizing or further marginalizing the people that live there. It’s all about including the community as well.”
Welcome Home Thriftique is a nonprofit thrift store located at 182 Boone Heights Drive. All of their proceeds help fund the programs and services at Hospitality House.
Graham said that the Hospitality House works to not only help people with practical means, but to also show them their worth.
“The people who take care of and run the Hospitality House, they go way out of their way for excellence in creating a safe environment,” he said. “Essentially making this well-manicured home for these people where they can heal, where they can learn what they need to do to get back up on their feet in whatever way they need to do that.”
Story by Charlotte Wray, Chief Copy Editor