Women & Girls

Teaming Up: Heifer’s “Hospitality” in the Blue Ridge Mountains

A photograph of the author, Jessica Ford.

By Jessica Ford

June 20, 2014

Teaming Up: Heifer’s “Hospitality” in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Heifer International continues to do cool things in the USA. We’ve told you before about opportunities to support your local farmers by purchasing a CSA produce or meat share, volunteering or simply buying local. But lately, we’re branching out some to serve a wider range of families who need our help, especially in our Appalachia program area in North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

One example of this approach is Heifer’s support of the Blue Ridge Seeds of Change organization and the Hospitality House in Boone, North Carolina.  Hospitality House is a nonprofit crisis agency serving seven counties (four of which overlap with Heifer’s program area: Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes) in northwestern North Carolina helping those living in crisis, poverty and homelessness rebuild their lives.

It may just sound like another homeless shelter, but it is much more than that. For residents, it is a 90-day program during which they receive counseling, support to get into transitional housing, and connection to job training programs. They also have an internship program where they develop useful, marketable skills—like working in the garden that Heifer’s support helped to install, working in the kitchen (which serves meals to more than just the residents), and doing food prep and food service jobs, among others. 

The latest venture through their mentor and internship program provides participants the opportunity to participate in six separate kitchen readiness workshops that started this week. They’ll be taught by different chefs and participants will be provided a certificate of completion at the end of the training. What they’ll learn in the workshops equips them with the basic skills that restaurant owners are looking for when hiring for their kitchens.

The Mountain Times out of Boone, North Carolina, covered this story and met some of the great people participating in the program. You can read more about this program, its successes so far, and testimonies from participants.

To learn more about our domestic programming, or if you really want to help Heifer help others through programming like this and many more initiatives, make a donation to our USA Program.