Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry

PARTNER STORY

Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust, and Service

Since 2006, Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust, and Service (HIGHTS) has been providing at-risk youth the possibility of a new future. Often entering the program during their most challenging times, these young adults encounter a supportive community of caring adults, all ready to assist in any way possible. 

HIGHTS offers eight different programs, each designed to meet the specific needs of their clients. From after school programs to community service opportunities, all HIGHTS programs are led by dedicated staff who are trained to identify and address the needs of community youth.  

“HIGHTS’s goal is to empower youth with skills they otherwise wouldn’t have,” HIGHTS Information Management Coordinator Corey Holland explained.  

This support might bring them into therapeutic adventure activities, meaningful service opportunities, mentoring programs, or counseling. HIGHTS also offers adult transition programs including workforce development and education programs to help individuals who have aged out of youth programming explore possible careers. This commitment to offering a continuum of care is what led HIGHTS to the Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP). 

“Before HOP came to HIGHTS, the process was lengthy getting families connected with other agencies and providers to meet their needs,” said Mitch Bentley, HIGHTS HOP coordinator. “Now we can do this all in-house, and the process is expedited.”  

After turning on services in June 2022, clients went from waiting weeks for services to having their needs met as quickly as 48 hours after enrolling.  

HOP also helped HIGHTS connect with more community members, regardless of age. Often, it can be hard to reach older clients who may have less trust in government programs and less awareness of community resources. With HOP, the staff at HIGHTS can confidently talk to their clients about their needs being met in a secure, easy, and fast process.  

This was the case for Walt, a long-time client of HIGHTS’s who had been refusing care for years. After multiple visits and explaining how HOP could help Walt’s situation, staff members were able to enroll Walt and get him a referral for healthy food boxes. By the third week of services, Walt was excited to call HIGHTS, and ask for hot sausage, which he was able to get in his next food box. The pilot prioritizes offering clients a choice, whenever possible. 

“Clients are blown away, when you call them” said HOP Coordinator Haley Birchfield. “They always say ‘there’s no way you can do that.’ And we always say, ‘yes we can, this is for you.’” 

In helping clients, HIGHTS staff also do whatever they can to help the whole family.  

Tyler has been a client with HIGHTS for a few months. He completed a series of community service outings and HIGHTS’s summer adventure program to help him find a new path for his life. Through their connection with Tyler, HIGHTS staff were also able to form a relationship with Tyler’s mom. She had been battling a few mental health problems and needed help getting both her and Tyler’s basic needs met. HIGHTS staff were able to enroll Tyler in HOP, and, a few days later, they received their first healthy food box.  

Before HOP services started, HIGHTS staff knew Tyler was not receiving more than one to two meals a day. After their services started, Tyler came in each week excited to talk about the breakfasts he ate and the lunches he packed for school.  

HOP is able to waive through all of {the challenges], in combination with our services, to reach that family, meet their needs and break down barrier after barrier,” said Mitch. “The biggest difference that HOP has made in our families’ lives is being able to voice a need. 

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