GIVING THANKS: Rabbi Justin Goldstein of Beth Israel Congregation in Asheville says gratitude is the foundation of the Jewish tradition, which celebrates the miracle of     oil staying lit for eight days during Hanukkah. Photo by Amanda Schwengel

The best holiday gift for lifting spirits, wellness

In the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressures of gift buying, parties and family gatherings yet forget about that old Thanksgiving stalwart — gratitude. But thankfulness may be the best gift you can give yourself and others this time of year. “The holidays can be a really challenging time,” says Asheville psychologist Deborah Barnett. […]

SNAPSHOTS IN TIME: Comparisons between Asheville’s estimated homeless population in 2005 and 2015 with other cities in North Carolina show mixed results in driving down the amount of homeless individuals statewide. While the amount of chronically homeless individuals decreased in most municipalities, the repercussions of the 2008 recession and a local shortage of affordable housing has stagnated efforts at decreasing the total number of people experiencing some form of homelessness. Statistics gathered from the N.C. Coalition to End Homelessness & the United States Census Bureau

Gimme shelter: In wake of 10-year plan to end homelessne­ss, local agencies regroup

Although chronic homelessness has been curtailed substantially since 2005, the combination of a severe economic downturn, an acute shortage of affordable housing and the rising cost of living has hindered the overall progress in eradicating homelessness. Despite those setbacks, partners in the project are forging ahead with new initiatives to combat housing insecurity and ensure that those in need of shelter get it.

CROSS-CULTURAL CLASSROOMS: With rising numbers of foreign-born students enrolling into local schools, administrators are exploring several unique curriculums to enhance cross-cultural learning and prepare all students to succeed in today’s global society. Photo courtesy of Buncombe County Schools

E Pluribus Unum: Local schools go multicultu­ral

Transitioning to a new language, country and culture can be extremely disruptive — particularly for children. To address the growing numbers of students from non-English-speaking households, the Asheville and Buncombe County schools are developing a curriculum that gives students from all backgrounds a chance to explore what makes each tradition unique, fostering cross-cultural dialogue and preparing students to be productive members of today’s increasingly global society.

TEA AND SYMPATHY: Casey Larkin, right, of Blue Ridge Healers Without Borders, offers free herbal tea and remedies to the Asheville public in Pritchard Park. Photo by Katherine Terra

Free and low cost health care as a basic human right

Caregivers and organizations in Western North Carolina — including community health centers, acupuncturists and herbalists — are helping people without insurance receive the care they need. Indeed, many providers say access to health care is a basic human right. People in every corner of the state should be covered and have access to care, says Benjamin Money, CEO and president […]

Members of the Be Loved Community, the formerly homeless and city government officials met in front of City Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 8 to bring attention to the continued need for affordable housing in Asheville. Photo by Max Hunt

BeLoved Community members hold affordable housing rally outside City Hall

Members of the Be Loved Community, formerly homeless residents of Asheville and several city council members gathered outside of City Hall prior to City Council’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, to listen to firsthand accounts of homelessness, voice support for the city’s affordable housing initiatives and encourage members of the Asheville community to stand […]

HOMECOMING: The staff of Mountain Housing Opportunities celebrated the grand opening of The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments along with their partners on the project and local and state representatives on Thursday, Dec. 3 with a tour of the facility and housingwarming fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Mountain Housing Opportunities.

Home, sweet home: Mountain Housing Opportunit­ies celebrates The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments

In its latest efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing, the nonprofit organization Mountain Housing Opportunities hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gift registry drive Thursday evening at its brand new apartment complex, The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments, just off New Leicester Highway. MHO staff, partner organizations, sponsors, local and state government officials were […]

XMAS SPIRIT: Local nonprofit Madison Has Heart will sell off hundreds of collectible holiday decorations and figurines on Saturday, Dec. 5 during its Christmas sale. Proceeds go towards supporting the organization in its efforts to provide heating assistance for Madison County residents. Image courtesy of Madison Has Heart.

Deck the halls: Madison Has Heart holds Dec. 5 Christmas sale of vintage collectibl­es at historic Walnut church

Wintertime in the mountains, with its temperature variances and extreme weather conditions, can be a harsh season for residents of western North Carolina. For those with limited financial means living in isolated areas of the region, the cost of simply heating one’s home can be difficult to manage. To help support those in need of […]

WALKING THE WALK: Ellen Stallings, left, community wellness educator at Park Ridge Health, and
Katherine Schuen, wellness manager, walk a trail together  during a 15-minute wellness break at work. Photo courtesy of Hal Alexander of Park Ridge Health

WNC employers create healthy workplace options

Workplace health initiatives are cropping up in Western North Carolina. Large hospital systems such as Mission Health and Park Ridge, as well as business owners and organizations like the Western North Carolina Medical Society, are starting to think “inside” the box: They’re creating in-house wellness programs that help employees lose weight, lower stress, get more exercise […]

A COVETED HERB: In 2012, the U.S. exported 45,000 pounds of wild ginseng and 342,000 pounds of the cultivated woodland crop, pictured above. The dried root sells for $500 to $2,000 per pound. Photo by Heather Wood Buzzard

Sustainabl­e ginseng: legendary herb’s best-kept secret

BY HEATHER WOOD BUZZARD November marks the tail end of “’sang” season, but relics of the harvest time remain: hand-scrawled signs declaring “Will Buy Ginseng – No License Needed” and reports of recent poaching on both private and public lands. Ginseng hunters and buyers have been everywhere this autumn, but where’s the ginseng? People reach […]

MAKING HEALTH HAPPEN: Peggy and Stephen McConnell of Mars Hill attended the Living Healthy workshop. Photo by Robert Moore

Land of Sky’s Living Healthy program offers path to better living

For Western North Carolina residents with chronic health problems, help is nearby. Mars Hill resident Peggy McConnell has several chronic conditions, including atrial fibrillation, which wakes her up in the  night. Although she is receiving regular medical care, last May, McConnell decided to get extra help: She enrolled in Living Healthy, a six-week workshop sponsored by the Land of Sky Regional Council, a multicounty agency […]

LOOK HOMEWARD, ASHEVILLE! Asheville's current boom in tourism and development mirrors the state of the city during Thomas Wolfe's life in several respects. The author, who wrote extensively about the changes he saw around him, may offer clues as to how the city can address current concerns and questions facing its residents. Left photo by MAx Hunt. Right photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, NC.

Of time and the city: Issues facing Asheville in Wolfe’s youth mirror today’s concerns

Asheville and environs have seen considerable change in the 77 years since Wolfe’s death, yet many of the aspects he wrote (and sometimes fumed) about seem uncannily familiar. And as current residents ponder the challenges the city faces today, a look at several of the celebrated author’s key themes might prove instructive.

Personal trainer Teah Boswell is known for hauling clients to unorthodox locations for workouts, including the occasional trip to The Wedge, pictured. Now, the fitness enthusiast hopes to set up her own permanent indoor space for cycling training.

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. An indoor studio […]

SHARING STORIES: Local nonprofit Green Side Up launches its "Speaker Series" this Sunday, Nov. 15, bringing real-life stories from Mission's Childrens' Cancer Center to the community. Image courtesy of Green Side Up Foundation.

Keep on the sunny side: Green Side Up Foundation brightens children’s cancer center

A diagnosis of cancer is a terrifying prospect for anyone. The long, arduous process of treatment and recovery not only physically drains a patient, but also takes an immense emotional toll. For children who’ve just begun their life’s journey, the experience can be especially difficult. In an effort to show compassion for young people battling […]

Asheville Music School Rock Band closed the event with a rendition of "Sweet Dreams." Photo by Jeff Tallman

Give!Local kickoff: Very auspicious and very Asheville

Give!Local raised nearly $1,000 in its opening day and many of the nonprofits raised additional money at the kickoff event. Thirty nonprofits, their boards, two food vendors, three bands, a dinosaur and a ghost pepper all convened along with about 200 people from the public.