Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SERVE Spotlight: Julie Gilliland

What brought you to Asheville? Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you are passionate about.

 Jason and I are from Indiana and met at Ball State University, where we both attended the College of Architecture and Planning. After college, we moved to Boulder, Colorado to start careers.  After 6 years there, we were ready to start a family and be closer to extended family.  We wanted to continue to live a mountain lifestyle that we fell in love with out west.  Asheville happened to be the place of choice.  Our family loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, and kayaking.

Where do you serve? What is the organization’s mission? How’d you get involved?

I became involved with the Asheville Design Center (ADC) in 2008 and eventually became the Chair of the organization.  As Chair, I initiated a Design Build Play program in the fall of 2011. The focus of the program was to provide a safe play environment for communities in need. In 2012, Site Design Studio (my company) worked closely with the Klondyke community and residents to provide input on the design.  In 2013, SDS continued our commitment to the Asheville Design Center by working with the Pisgah View Community.  Community members were chosen and paid for their efforts for both projects to help construct the playground.   SDS collaborated with local playground providers who volunteered and contributed equipment to the effort.

Asheville Design Center is an independent, nonprofit agency founded in 2006 on the belief that everyone deserves good design. Planning builds community, and design shapes our lives every day—yet few of us have easy access to an architect, engineer, landscape architect or planner. ADC recruits volunteer professionals to work with communities to develop design solutions that enhance our quality of life. ADC engages Western North Carolina in creative community-based design to promote healthy, thriving and equitable communities. ADC only works in communities where we have been invited. ADC brings a multi-disciplinary team of volunteer designers to every project. ADC uses a community-driven design process–our volunteers use your ideas to create better design solutions.

Why do you serve there? What do you get out of it?

 I became involved with the Asheville Design Center because I truly believe that everyone deserves a healthy and high-quality lifestyle.  When it comes to kids, each and every child deserves a safe environment to live and play. One way to provide those lifestyle qualities is through playgrounds.  The satisfaction I receive from the Design Build Play program are smiles and big hugs from kids who are happily playing on their new community playgrounds.

If someone is interested in this type of service, what can they do to find out more or get involved?

Anyone interested in volunteering and/or helping Asheville Design Center’s mission to provide communities with quality design can contact the Executive Director Chris Joyell at 828.782.7894 or chris@ashevilledesigncenter.org.  You do not have to have design experience to be involved with the Asheville Design Center.          

Monday, September 19, 2016

SERVE Spotlight: Dick and Peggy Manz

Dick and Peggy Manz
Featured Organizations: Habitat for Humanity and the Rathbun House

Although we at Grace Covenant have known for a long time that Dick and Peggy Manz are remarkable folks, Governor McCrory acknowledged this publicly in 2014 by awarding them the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the state’s most prestigious honors in recognition of community service. Moreover, Governor Jim Hunt (from the other side of the political aisle) also awarded Dick the North Carolina Distinguished Service Award a number of years ago for his work on the State Board of Education and as chair of the Community College Committee of the state board. 

When asked about the awards, Peggy says, “We’ve just done what decent people do. I don’t think we’ve done anything special.” Others might disagree…

After raising a family in the eastern part of North Carolina, Dick and Peggy retired to Asheville in 1992. They had moved a number of times via Dick’s work as an engineer with Champion Paper, but fell in love with the mountains after Dick spent time in Canton on a work project. 

It was Grace Covenant’s record of community service which attracted them. According to Dick, “We visited one Sunday, and it was Volunteer Recognition Day. Jack Laughlin asked for those who volunteered at this and that to stand up, and before long, the entire congregation was standing up. That told us something, right there.” And, as Peggy says, “After you retire, you can give more time.” 

Earlier in their lives, Dick and Peggy raised foster children and volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Radio Reading for the Blind, and local school boards. After retiring, they have spent the majority of their volunteer hours at Habitat for Humanity and the Rathbun House. 

When asked why he has volunteered at Habitat for more than 18 years, Dick responds, “The cause. And the leadership. It’s very well-run. Their store has been in the top 5 in gross sales for a single store in the nation for the last 5 or 6 years. It’s had all kinds of recognitions for being #1 in volunteer growth. People come through there virtually every week from across the nation to check it out because it’s got such a good reputation.”

Dick spends his time on Mondays and Tuesdays as one of a crew of 3 which repairs small appliances for resale in the Habitat store. Peggy works in the bookstore, selling books, music, records, and art.  She, and another volunteer, Anne Justice, pull together a silent auction every 2 weeks of the finer donations. 

Both emphasize the long list of opportunities at Habitat. “Whatever your talent is, Habitat will use it,” Peggy says.  Among the needs are: unloading donations; sorting, washing and packaging donations; driving trucks to pick up donations; arranging merchandise on the sales floor; and office work, such as answering the phone, sending letters, or working on the computer. A more recent source of revenue for Habitat is a “deconstruction” contract service in which volunteers gut a building designated to be replaced or renovated, salvaging and collecting anything of value, and carting off the rest to the landfill. 

The Rathbun House in the Kenilworth neighborhood of Asheville provides a home-away-from-home for families with a member requiring long-term medical care in Asheville and who have been referred by a doctor, hospital counsellor, or a chaplain. There is no charge for staying at the Rathbun House, and about 30 rooms are available. Peggy worked at the reception desk at the Rathbun House for 15 years. “People come in, and they just want to talk about how their patient’s doing, and what they’re going to do,” she says. It provides a caring, stress-free community for families dealing with serious illness. “People have a place to get food and do laundry, and they can talk to people on the staff and sort out needs. And it’s gorgeous! There are balconies in the rooms, overlooking the woods, and a shuttle service provides transportation to the hospital.”

For more information about volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, visit www. ashevillehabitat.org or call or email Carrie Burgin (daughter of GCPC members, Bob and Glenda Burgin) at 828-210-9381 or cburgin@ashevillehabitat.org .

For more information about volunteering at the Rathbun House, visit www.rathbuncenter.org, or call Caryl Dean, the House Director, at 828-251-0595.

Monday, August 22, 2016


As of August 2016, the SERVE blog will no longer be actively updated. Look for announcements and information to come through GCPC's social media pages and website, listed in the links area to the left.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pritchard Park Breakfast: August 21

Time for Pritchard Park | Sunday, August 21

Sign-ups for the next Pritchard Park are in the Narthex on Sundays, August 7 and 14th. Food donations and volunteers are needed. Contact David Bailey at 777-3990 or by email.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

SERVE Meetings in 2016

The SERVE Council will meet throughout the fall/winter on the following dates, at 6:00 in the Conference Room:

August 9 
September 13
October 11
November 8
December 13

Global Missions Prayer Partners

On the First Sunday of each month six (6) folks from one of our Global Mission Partners are selected for us to join in a month of prayer support.

 It is through the web of prayer we develop a personal connection with our sisters and brother as they work to improve lives in their community in areas of health, nutrition, education, housing or social justice.

In August we will join women enrolled with the joint Presbyterian Women's Microloan Project in Guatemala in prayer support. It is a joint project with women from the Presbytery of Western North Carolina and Suchitepequez and Sur Occidente in Guatemala.

The women in the microloan groups invest in a variety of business opportunities such as raising animals to sell, preparing and selling food, selling new and used clothing or firewood, bicycle and tire repair, growing corn, and sewing.

Currently 70 women are participating in the loan project. 68 of 70 women repaid their loans on time, one arranged a late repayment schedule, and one defaulted.  The default was difficult since all women in the affected group helped to cover the cost.  However, there were positive aspects in that the group experienced learning, solidarity and growth.

The women try to save one quetzal (about 15 cents) a day because developing the habit of saving is another part of the project.  Each month the women bring their 30 Quetzales, or more, and they are added to their account in the bank.  Women who never saved before are learning that they can do this! Research studies are showing surprisingly positive effects from projects that help the poor save even small amounts of money. Follow their work here.

SERVE Spotlight: Amy Fowler

Amy Fowler
Featured community interest: 
Geriatric Care

What brought you to Grace Covenant?
I was visiting different churches, and I was so impressed when I looked in the Grace Covenant bulletin and saw all of the things that the church is involved in. Then, I saw Kathy Meacham in the congregation, and I knew that this had to be a good place! I had Kathy Meacham as a professor at Mars Hill College.
I grew up Baptist in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and ‘practicing what you preach’ was an important part of my upbringing. Also, when I met with Mark, Kristy, and Heather, it was clear that they worked together as a team. I’ve always been a part of churches which honor women ministers, and it was clear that Grace Covenant wasn’t dominated by one senior male minister. Also, I found a nursery at Grace Covenant who was willing to deal with my one year-old son, who was going through a bit of separation anxiety. Now he’s four years old, and he loves participating in the Godly Play curriculum!

Tell me a little about yourself and what you are passionate about.
I work as a Geriatric Care Manager, or a social worker who works with families who have aging loved ones. When my father developed early onset Alzheimers at age 59, my mother and I hired a geriatric care manager to help us learn about resources available for him and our family. It was a very positive experience, and I realized from that experience that I had found my calling.
I work with individuals and families who are navigating the last years of life, and it’s an honor to be involved with them at such a sacred time. I develop incredible relationships with my clients through this work.

Exactly what is it that you do?
I tell folks that I’m like a surrogate daughter with a loaded tool belt. I am a care manager, certified through the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, which requires passing a certification exam and continuous education and training.  I am also a member of the Aging Life Care Association and am honored to be one of the more than 2000 members who provide services in the United States.  You can learn more about that organization at www.aginglifecare.org. My client is the older person, and in general, I work to connect families with resources and gently guide them through all of the decisions that have to be made. I typically meet with a client and their family in their home, and we create a road map for their care. Many of my clients have some degree of cognitive impairment. Some of the families that I work with are local, but I also work with many family members who do not live close to their aging loved one. Sometimes these families are in crisis and we work together to ensure that the best decisions for their loved one is made, even if it has to be executed quickly. I help activate long-term care insurance, provide resources regarding facility options and/or care in the home, go to the hospital with clients, take them to doctors’ appointments, mediate family conflicts, and work as a buffer between a facility and a family. I can also assist in the transition from home to assisted living, or into skilled care. I love my job as I am able to look at each individual situation and create a plan that best matches what the older person, and their family, needs. 

How do you charge for your services?
I charge an hourly rate, and I bill in 15-minute increments. My fees are not paid by insurance, and can be paid by adult children, the client or their spouse. 

If someone is interested in volunteering with aging seniors, whom should they contact?
We are very blessed in Western North Carolina to have many wonderful geriatric resources, including Memory Care, Adult Day at Care Partners, two hospice organizations, the Council on Aging, etc.  Each of these agencies have their own unique volunteer opportunities. I would be happy to brainstorm with members as to how they would like to serve so that they could be connected with the most appropriate agency.  They are welcome to contact me at amy@wncgmc.com.