BOONE — The Hunger and Health Coalition is inviting the public to celebrate its 38th birthday with cake, punch and an abundance of cheer from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 15.
What started in a closet at Boone United Methodist 38 years ago has turned into a myriad of services for community members of Boone and a few surrounding counties. The local nonprofit is thanking the community for its continued outpouring of support over the years and celebrating turning 38 by hosting a birthday party to recognize all of the community members who helped HHC achieve this milestone.
Executive Director Elizabeth Young said she is blown away yearly at the outpouring of support from local residents and business leaers.
“We are overwhelmed not just for this year but every year at the amazing amount of love and support Boone has shown for our organization,” Young said. “Our mission is simple, to help our neighbors in need, and without this community it would simply not be possible. We continue to see amazing growth throughout the years; we have certainly come a long way since 1982.”
Decades ago, Joan Chater of Blowing Rock wanted to help those who needed it most and with the help of a couple of friends began distributing food from the closet of Boone United Methodist in 1982, according to HHC. Once the organization outgrew the closet it was relocated to a site on King Street.
In the mid-1990s HHC began tackling the difficulties experienced by clients who faced an arduous decision each month — using their limited resources on food or prescription medications. In 1995 the free pharmacy was introduced as a service of the organization. By 1999 two other vital programs had joined HHC: the food recovery program and the individual drug program.
Today, the organization has occupied a space that was formerly the Watauga County Health Department, allowing the organization to help serve more than 37,000 client visits annually. Last year more than 150,00 pounds of food were collected from local restaurants and grocery stores that were converted into take-home meals for clients. More than $3.5 million worth of prescriptions were distributed in the last year, allowing for 4,630 clients to not have to choose between life-sustaining medication or food on their table.
New programs such as A Simple Gesture have also helped to keep the shelves stocked during fluctuating seasons. In its first year, ASG collected 47,644 pounds of food that were immediately stocked on the shelves and distributed to clients.
If community members would like to bring gifts to the birthday party, HHC stated that it requested cake mixes, brownie mixes, frosting, balloons, candles or party treats to “help those in need have celebrations of their own.”
Young said she hopes that anyone who wishes will stop by for as long as they please.
“We hope to see everyone there to share a little cake, spread the cheer and give thanks for allowing our team of staff, board members and volunteers to make such a huge impact on the lives of community members,” Young said. “No singing is required, so feel free to stop on by.”