New crisis line targets substance use, mental health

HELP IS AVAILABLE: The crisis line 855-PEERS-NC is staffed by certified peer support specialists around the clock. The specialists are people in recovery who have a mental health or substance use disorder and can offer nonclinical support based on their experiences. Image by Adobe Stock

On Feb. 20, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services launched a crisis line called the Peer Warmline for people who need support for mental illness and/or substance use.

The phone number 855-PEERS-NC is staffed by certified peer support specialists 24/7. Peer support specialists are people in recovery who have a mental health and/or substance use disorder and can provide nonclinical support based on their lived experiences.

The Peer Warmline works alongside 988, the nationwide suicide and crisis hotline that debuted in 2022. (The 988 hotline will route callers to a call center in their state, where a trained crisis counselor answers 24/7.) Individuals can call the Peer Warmline directly, or they can call 988 and be given the option to transfer to a peer support specialist on the warmline. Promise Resource Network, a peer-run organization in Mecklenburg County, operates the warmline.

For more information about 988 services and support, visit

Safelight camp seeks donations

The City of Hendersonville is accepting donations to benefit Safelight’s Camp HOPE, a weeklong summer camp for children in the community who have been exposed to domestic violence and other traumas.

Camp HOPE seeks donations of products like sunscreen, bug spray, deodorant, toothpaste and hand sanitizer through Friday, March 29. Donations can be dropped off on the third floor of Hendersonville City Hall, 101 Maple Drive N. A wishlist for Camp HOPE is at

For more information, contact Whitney Jakubus at

Health fellowship available

The Jim Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellows Program is accepting applications from health care providers who work in rural and underserved communities in North Carolina through Saturday, March 30. Practitioners and administrators from disciplines including public health, behavioral health, social work and primary care, among others, are eligible.

Bernstein Fellows will receive up to two years of funding to support an individualized project they develop that will improve the health of their community. A stipend will be available for project support.

A webinar about applying to be a Bernstein Fellow will be offered Tuesday, March 12, at noon. Register at Interviews with select applicants will be held Monday, April 29, and orientation for new fellows will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2, and Thursday, Oct. 3. The fellowship runs from October 2024-October 2026.

For more information and to download an application, visit

Foot care clinic March 29

Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, 225 Patton Ave., will hold a foot care clinic Friday, March 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Volunteers for Walk Humbly Foot Care Clinic will wash the feet of men and women who are homeless and give them new footwear. Before the clinic, WCRM will collect gently used shoes, flip-flops and towels. For more information visit

Peer support conference set for June

Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness will hold a N.C. Peer Support Conference Tuesday, June 25-Thursday, June 27, at Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center, 16 Fernihurst Drive. Presentations and panelists will address topics related to peer support, harm reduction and self-care. For more information visit

Community kudos

  • Bank of America provided a $25,000 grant to Helpmate’s capital campaign for an expanded domestic violence shelter and additional services. According to Executive Director April Burgess-Johnson, the Asheville-based nonprofit provided shelter for 247 people in fiscal year 2022-23;  its typical annual capacity is around 200 people. The groundbreaking for a larger shelter will take place in April, and Burgess-Johnson says it is expected to open in summer 2025.
  • Jessica Parsil has been promoted to chief behavioral officer of Western North Carolina Community Health Services.
  • Physician assistant Alex Benson has joined Pardee Bariatrics and General Surgery.
  • Kristina Hyatt is the recipient of UNC Asheville’s 2024 Francine M. Delany Alumni Award for Service to the Community. Hyatt is a 2012 graduate and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; she’s known as the “Native Tooth Fairy” for her promotion of healthy dental hygiene for kids. Hyatt serves on Cherokee Central School’s Board of Education.
  • Brandy Mills, executive coach of Brandy Mills Consulting, has joined the All Souls Counseling Board of Directors.

Mark your calendars

  • Trish Howey will teach a Zumba Gold class Fridays, March 8 and 22, and April 12 and 26, 11 a.m.-noon, at the Leicester Library, 1561 Alexander Road, Leicester. The low-impact class is recommended for seniors or people returning to exercise. Participants should wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes. Space is limited, and registration is required at
  • Full Circle, a community-focused wellness and counseling center, will hold a stitch ‘n bitch for neurodiverse women Sunday, March 10, 11 a.m., at 1915 George St., Hendersonville. Participants are invited to bring a craft project.
  • Dr. Annie Barnes and personal trainer Malynda Kerksick will hold an informational session on developing core strength for runners and walkers  Thursday, March 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at Anti-Fragile Physical Therapy, 959 Merrimon Ave. Tickets are $20 per person. The speakers will guide participants through exercises to target their glutes and cores. For tickets, visit
  • Wayne Tipton will teach a free ballroom dance class Sunday, March 17, 5:30-6 p.m., at Weaverville Center for Creative and Healthy Living, 60 Lakeshore Drive, Weaverville. The class will be followed by a free dance, open to the public, from 6-8 p.m. For more information, contact Renee Twilley at
  • The Council on Aging of Buncombe County and North Carolina’s Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program will present a free informational session on the basics of Medicare on Thursday, March 21, 2-3 p.m., at the Leicester Library, 1561 Alexander Road, Leicester.
  • The Colon Cancer Coalition will host Get Your Rear in Gear — Asheville 5K Run/Walk for Colon Cancer Awareness on Saturday, March 23, 8-10:30 a.m., at Carrier Park, 220 Amboy Road. A kids fun run will take place at 8:50 a.m., and the timed run will start after that. To register, visit
  • Registration is open for Mountain Area Health Education Center’s conference about integrative mental health strategies. The conference will take place via a live webinar on Thursday, March 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Topics include nutritional psychology, Subtle Yoga and emotional regulation. A variety of mental health continuing education credits are available, and fees for attendance vary. For more information and to register, visit

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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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