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As part of this year’s Vacation Bible School, a group of rising middle schoolers known as the “Nomads” embarked on a week of service learning led by Debbie Cox and Nanette Popa. Each day we would spend time in the morning listening to the lesson and having fun learning songs and dances. As VBS group rotations got underway, this group of five hardworking boys went out into the community and worked with ABCCM’s Transformation Village, Manna Food Bank, and Haywood Street Congregation.

On Monday, we loaded up the van and headed to ABCCM’s Transformation Village. If you are not familiar with Transformation Village, it is an incredible ministry of ABCCM that provides transitional housing to unhoused women and children, as well as veterans. They have 100 beds and the residents get the education and support they need to get back on their feet. While we were there, we were treated to a tour of the kitchen by Chef Eric Cox, ABCCM’s Director of Food Service Operations. Then, we got to work cleaning the dining room and sorting through hundreds of toys for the child enrichment center. The boys also moved some heavy furniture from one floor to another. To Learn more about Transformation Village and volunteer opportunities, please visit their website:

The crew at Transformation Vilage

On Tuesday, the Nomads headed to MANNA Food Bank, which is a nonprofit food bank working with 167 community partners to end food insecurity in Western North Carolina. When we arrived, we were given a lesson about how MANNA collects, stores, warehouses, and distributes food, and how volunteers like us quality check and pack the food for distribution. We worked efficiently and managed to pack a whopping 90 boxes of food for our neighbors! To learn more about MANNA Food Bank and volunteer opportunities, please visit their website:

The crew at MANNA Food Bank

Finally, on Wednesday, we toured the Haywood Street Congregation where we learned about the profoundly impactful work the church does by partnering with Asheville’s unhoused community. The Haywood Street Congregation describes themselves as a “United Methodist urban mission congregation ministry” that provides numerous forms of outreach for those living on the margins of society. The four main ministries the Haywood Street Congregation provides is food, through the Downtown Welcome Table, medical care, through the Haywood Street Respite, which is a place for unhoused adults to recuperate following discharge from the hospital, Haywood Street Gardens, and worship. We were also treated to a presentation and interpretation of the beautiful modern fresco in the sanctuary. For a virtual tour of the Haywood Street Fresco, visit: To learn more about the Haywood Street Congregation and their companion (volunteer) opportunities, please visit their website here:

The Haywood Street Mural

After three days of hard work, we participated in the water play day on Thursday to relax and celebrate!

I would like to extend a big thank you to the boys for working so hard and taking their mission of service seriously, and to Debbie Cox for organizing all of the volunteer opportunities and providing transportation. Thank you, again, to Beth Chestnut and all the VBS volunteers for including us in VBS and making it possible! To see a larger selection of photos from the week, please visit our Facebook page:

Do you have something wonderful to share? An interesting story? Celebrating a momentous occasion? Please reach out to Nanette by email: to be featured in your own edition of Stories that Matter.


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