Area organizations provide Asheville residents with ways to connect to their community.
While Asheville has phenomenal visitor appeal, it’s easy to see why more and more people are deciding to relocate to the area and put down roots.
This city of nearly 95,000 is highly connected, and it’s home to several organizations that make it easy for newcomers to get involved and stay involved in their community.
Asheville Newcomers Club
While it has the word “newcomers” in the name, the Asheville Newcomers Club is open to women of all ages, no matter if they are new or longtime residents. Members can participate in interest group activities throughout the year, such as hiking excursions, book clubs, meals, happy hours, arts and crafts, and much more.
Plus, the group holds monthly meetings, including interesting speakers and monthly get-togethers for coffee.
“There’s such a good ability for people to meet new friends, and for me, learning about where I lived was really important to me after I relocated here,” says Susan Stanley, the former club president, who joined as a member in 2015 after moving from Washington, D.C.
In addition to club activities and area exploration, the group helps connect members with volunteer opportunities.
Another great way to get involved in the community is through United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, which for over 100 years has offered ways for people to support the community they love, says Aisha Shepherd, vice president of community engagement for the nonprofit.
The organization’s volunteer center, called Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, helps interested individuals find opportunities that match their interests, such as youth impact, food insecurity and adult literacy.
“… Those that learn about our area, get to know their neighbors and support the work that is already happening in our community — these are the people who feel as though they’ve made a new home.”
Aisha Shepherd, United Way
And while the United Way works in a number of ways to better the community, it is also known for teaming up with other organizations in the area to make lasting impacts. For example, the United for Youth Network is a partnership forged between the United Way, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and representatives of local health, social service, higher education and youth services community partners. Together, they are helping ensure that area youth are learning, growing and thriving in a vibrant, healthy and connected community.
No matter how residents get involved with the organization, both they and the community benefit.
“We see people move to our community every day, and those that learn about our area, get to know their neighbors and support the work that is already happening in our community — these are the people who feel as though they’ve made a new home,” Shepherd says. “For a lot of people, the way they do this is through volunteerism. We can help you connect to those opportunities.”
Located on Biltmore Avenue, Mission Hospital offers junior, college and adult volunteer programs. While the pandemic has deterred some opportunities, volunteers usually serve in various roles, assisting staff and helping provide patients and their families with an exceptional experience. All interested individuals must apply to get started.
Volunteer opportunities abound for those looking to get involved with the Asheville Downtown Association, an organization that hosts multiple large events throughout the year, such as Downtown After 5, a music series held the third Friday of the month from April through September, as well as the Asheville Holiday Parade and Oktoberfest. Each event requires 100, if not more, volunteers. And while these events only last a few hours, they can have lasting impacts on volunteers.
“A volunteer might get involved with us or some other nonprofit and then go on to become a committee member or a board member or serve other nonprofits in other capacities,” says Meghan Rogers, executive director of the Asheville Downtown Association. “So, I think it’s a really important way to get involved in your community and find out how you can help make it better.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Asheville area, check out the latest edition of Livability Asheville, North Carolina.