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Hospitality House clients Carolyn and Brandon harvest greens from the shelter’s garden. Photo by Anna Oakes

Originally published: 2013-02-23 18:29:02
Last modified: 2013-02-25 10:14:58

Hospitality House seeks '500 Club'

by Anna Oakes

Five hundred donors can help the Hospitality House fill a critical funding gap so it can continue providing services to the homeless and at-risk populations of the High Country.

The nonprofit organization announced Feb. 20 that it is launching The 500 Club, a program seeking 500 donors to give $32 a month for 12 months.

Hospitality House operates a homeless shelter off Bamboo Road and a community kitchen, food box program and crisis assistance network. Last year, the average cost cost per night for food, shelter and supportive services was $32 per person.

"It's in times like these that we really need our neighbors and local community members to step in and help to fill the funding gap," said Hospitality House Director of Development Todd Carter in a statement. "Although our donor base is larger than ever, the economic downturn continues to take a toll as the average business, civic and individual contribution amount declined by 25 percent last year."

In addition, Hospitality House has experienced reductions and delays in federal, state and local government funding for its programs. Funding from the North Carolina Emergency Solutions Grant and the Housing and Urban Development Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding have been delayed since August 2012.

"While only 20 percent of our $1.2 million dollar annual budget comes from federal and state grants, the prolonged delay in receiving these funds has necessitated dipping into and ultimately depleting our reserves," said Hospitality House Executive Director Lynne Mason.

 A rise in demand for services continued in 2012, with 20 percent more people seeking food, shelter and crisis assistance than the previous year, the Hospitality House said. The organization also saw record successes last year, with 89 percent of transitional housing clients and 74 percent of emergency shelter clients finding housing.

"It truly is amazing what our staff has been able to accomplish in the face of constantly arising challenges," Mason said.

Anyone who wishes to join The 500 Club can do so online at or call Carter at (828) 264-1237 ext. 107.