Last December, Food for Fairview participated in an event, Loaves and Fishes – An Alternative Gift Market, that is a joint venture between Trinity Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church, both in downtown Asheville. This event seeks to counteract the over-commercialization of the holiday season by helping people purchase a unique gift, namely, a donation to one of the participating nonprofit in their friend or relative’s name. It was there that I met Debbie Alford, Executive Director of Asheville Youth Mission. Because of that meeting, Food for Fairview and Asheville Youth Mission partnered this year to provide service opportunities for young people from around the country who were attending youth conferences over the summer at Montreat Conference Center.
Asheville Youth Mission started in 2009. Their mission statement reads: “AYM is a place where mission, creativity, and transformation are happening with young people.”
As stated on their website, the reasoning behind their service projects is as follows:
“AYM offers broad based experiences where each group serves in several different settings in the Asheville area. Our hope is that youth who experience a variety of settings and a variety of work will eventually discover their God-given gifts and how they can use them. By experiencing God in the unexpected (on the edges and in the margins of the community), we hope they go home having made some decisions to use their gifts in their own community.”
“Participants experience the broad spectrum of needs and possibilities out there and begin to know and internalize how they can make a difference in a variety of settings and live their lives in justice and generosity.”
We at Food for Fairview were glad indeed for the generosity of these high school aged young people, as well as their chaperones and the college interns (mostly former participants in the program) who spent part of their summer with us. We had three different groups of young people visit with us over the summer. They came to us from Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida to help clean and organize the pantry as well as our storage units. Many, many thanks to Debbie Alford of AYM for putting together this great service project! We are also so very grateful to all the different groups of young people, their chaperones, and interns for all their hard work! Way to go, AYM participants!