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BROC dependant on donations to assist Ashe County families

Heather Samudio/AMT
BROC Case Manager Louise Ham said many individuals recognize the building where BROC is located, but were not aware it houses the organization.

Originally published: Apr. 25, 2013
Last modified: Apr. 25, 2013

Heather Samudio

In the wake of rising gas, grocery and health care prices, families are struggling to make ends meet and the Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission needs help to continue serving those in need in Ashe County.

BROC has seen a decrease in donations over the past year, according to case manager Louise Ham who has been with the organization for almost 20 years.

“I think people are holding on to items longer and making them last longer, but I want to remind people that when they have items they are ready to donate, we are open every day to accept them,” she said.

Every donated item, financial donation and money made from BROC’s thrift store stays in the county to help local families.

BROC’s goals are to advocate with the community to seek out, identify and eliminate poverty in the service area, provide opportunities for low-income persons of all ages in order to alleviate the causes and symptoms of poverty and help people to help themselves reach economic self-sufficiency, according to its mission statement.

Ham said one of the ways BROC raises money is through its thrift store. Every item is priced at $1 and the store is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Fridays.

The group holds an indoor flea market from 8 a.m. until noon every Friday.

“We depend on donations to furnish the items in our thrift store and flea market,” Ham said.

BROC accepts all kinds of donations, from clothing and linens to household items and furniture. Monetary donations are also accepted.

The organization has been serving Ashe County for almost 50 years through other programs.

BROC programs include the emergency crisis assistance, garden seeds, the career closet, self sufficiency and weatherization.

The emergency crisis program provides assistance with oil, gas or electricity when a family is facing a cut off notice.

Vouchers worth $25 are provided through the garden seed program, allowing families to purchase seeds for planting.

The career closet works in conjunction with the thrift shop providing clothing for a client’s job interview.

“Some people have been out of work for a while and don’t have clothing to wear for a job interview,” Ham said. “We work with them to find suitable clothing in the thrift shop.”

The self sufficiency program also goes hand-in-hand with the other programs, but serves as more of a coaching service.

“Through self sufficiency, I work with a certain number of families, coaching them and trying to help break barriers that are keeping them in poverty,” Ham said. “Due to limited funding, sometimes I can’t do a whole lot, but I can refer clients to other programs that may be able to help meet certain needs.

“In this program, clients have to do their part and I have to do my part to make it work,” she continued.

The weatherization program offers assistance in insulating clients’ homes.

BROC coordinates with other agencies and verifies information provided by the clients.

“We use a voucher system to ensure the money is used for the approved purpose,” Ham said.

The We Care Planning Committee is a fundraising arm of BROC that works to raise money for the organization’s programs. A big yard and bake sale is in the planning stages for September.

Ham is the only paid staff member at the Warrensville location, but has a support staff of 27 volunteers who work at different times throughout the week.

Donations can be dropped off at the office at 169 Warrensville School Road, just off Northwest School Road. BROC is located in the old Warrensville school building, across the creek from Jim’s Corner Furniture. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information about BROC, the programs it offers or to make a donation, call (336) 384-4543.
For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.