With a global pandemic, social distancing mandates, countless shutdowns and a litany of canceled events, 2020 has proved quite challenging for charitable organizations regarding fundraising. Despite the opposition, however, one local organization has been able to make a bit of headway this past year and are hoping to carry their momentum forward into 2021.

In August of 2020 Life Village, a Boone-based charity which aims to provide housing for adults with autism and other related conditions, handed over the keys of a newly acquired apartment which they have dubbed LifeHouse I over to its new tenants. The move helps set the stage for the future goals of the Life Village, which is to open Life House II and Life House III in 2021.

“We’ve been able to secure the first life house, we have been able to get residents into the first life house, set up support services around them, deal with COVID-19 and at the same time still plan for a second and third house in 2021,” said Mark Mangum, executive director of Life Village. “The plan would be to secure a house within the first six to eight months, certainly within the first half of the year. Then to secure the second house respectively during the last half.”

Funds for the homes were acquired through a combination of multiple grassroots fundraising campaigns, such as sharnights at local breweries, annual golf tournaments and celebration dinners, as well as the generosity of donors such as the City of Boone, V.P.C. Builders, Ashe Emergency Vehicles and Mast General Store.

“It’s a real grassroots type of organization,” said Mangum. “Every amount that comes in is significant.”

The accessibility to services such as AppalCart and the close proximity to the university and the services it offers make Boone an ideal location for life house properties.

Currently, Life Village has its eyes on a potential property for Life House II and is in talks with the property’s landlord regarding a possible transition next summer.

Looking towards the future the organization hopes to purchase its next life houses as opposed to renting them. The high demand for housing in Boone, however, may present some challenges for the organization.

“Unfortunately, we can’t just find a house and buy it, because that’s just not how it works in Boone,” said Mangum. “The real key for us, the thing that will make this successful is identifying properties before they go on the market.”

According to Mangum, the goal of Life Village goes beyond simply furnishing housing for adults with diverse abilities, it is about teaching valuable life skills their residents will need to live independently in the future.

“The idea is that one year from now, these residents that we have in Life House I are going to be several steps down the road toward independent living; so that they’ll have their own relationship with a landlord, so they’re paying their own electric bill, that’s what we’re gearing them towards,” said Mangum.

Though aware that the new year may very well present new challenges, the staff of Life Village remain optimistic about the future and according to Magnum fully to committed to achieving their 2021 goals.

“We’re committed to it, we’ve approved a budget for it, we know what staffing we’re going to need, we know what services we’re going to need, and we have already set up partnering with Scholars of Diverse Abilities at A.S.U. to both assist with placement, identifying clients and putting support services into place.”

Individuals interested in learning more about the mission of Life Village can visit www.thelifevillage.net/ or call Mangum at (828) 406-2855. The organization can also be found on social media at www.facebook.com/LIFEvillage1.

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