In 2014, the city of Asheville changed my life. I hitch-hiked into the city with no job, no place to live, and no contacts around the city. I felt a special draw to this beautiful mountain town long before I ever saw its beauty or felt its vibe. While searching for any job that would hire me, I found a home at Barleys Taproom and Pizzeria. Working at Barleys provided a family unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Staff members are even raising their children together. There is a special energy within this wonderful environment. My eyes were truly opened to this family atmosphere at my first Barley’s Christmas party where ‘Secret Santa’ created smiles, bringing everyone even closer together. At this party, I met Beth.
I first noticed Beth’s uniqueness when she was not drinking alcohol while everyone around her was. Beth has not battled issues with the substance, but instead loves life and interactions naturally. She and I connected immediately, leading to years of amazing friendship. Leaving Barleys and Asheville was especially hard in saying goodbye to people like Beth, but we consistently stay in touch and reconnect every time I return. Beth even gave me my first and only pie-to-the-face!
When I shared the Nominated Smiles idea with Beth, she immediately thought of Nicole, who founded Helping Hands of Haywood. This individual embodies exactly what K2 Nominated Smiles is all about. The Vision, on the Helping Hands of Haywood website, reads, “To be able to provide stable permanent housing and emergency shelter to those experiencing homelessness or insecure housing.” The organization focuses on homelessness, addiction, and mental health programs to be sure every human has fair access to comfort and safety on a nightly basis. Nicole has passionately dedicated her life to helping other humans. She is a prime example of #strangershelpingstrangers; my ultimate goal in this big bright world we all call home.
Thanks for being you!!