Helping at Risk Kids of Buncombe County, or HARK (previously known as the Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County, or GALA) has a mission to provide support and resources for at risk children and youth in Buncombe County and beyond to promote a safe, enriching and hopeful future. Our focus is on the children and youth in the protective custody of the state’s social service system (Buncombe County Health and Human Services) and students in Asheville City and Buncombe County schools in the McKinney-Vento program for homelessness who are referred by social workers.

HARK is a mainly volunteer, non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) and the only non-profit organization in Buncombe County that supports children and youth in protective custody of the state’s social services and aging out of the system. Our desire is to see these kids get the extra support they need to bring normalcy to their lives and give them some of the experiences that other kids take for granted.


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HARK Mission

Our mission is that every child and youth will have the support needed to succeed and to grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. HARK provides resources for children that address both basic and special needs, including clothes, school supplies, tutoring, literacy assistance, beds, summer camp, housing for homeless students and other support during this intensely difficult time of their lives. While the State provides some resources for these children, many of the things that most children take for granted are not available to these innocent kids, such as a backpack for school, T-Ball League registration, shoes that fit, art supplies for creative outlets, tutoring, and many other little things that help these kids have a normal childhood.
Please take a look at our Examples of Assistance page for more examples of how your generous donations can help these kids grow up into strong members of our community.


Much of HARK’s funding comes through our grant writing efforts. We are extremely grateful to have received the following grants in 2023.

These grants include:

Dogwood Health Trust
The Black Mountain-Swannanoa Endowment Fund
The Ramble Charitable Foundation
Biltmore Lake Foundation
Campaign for Southern Equality
Walnut Cove Members Association
Junior League

HARK is very excited about our grant from Dogwood Health Trust that will fund a part-time Specialist to work directly with the homeless student population at Enka and Erwin High Schools for 2024 and 2025. Our hope is to support these students through the daunting challenges hindering their academic success and personal development. Our wonderful partners on this project are Buncombe County Schools Family Resource Center, Working Wheels, Homeward Bound, OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling, and Literacy Together.

HARK is grateful to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) for providing financial support by awarding the following grants. The Black Mountain-Swannanoa Endowment Fund through The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC). These funds are being used for aging out teens, camps and class trips, and Kinship families in the Black Mountain and Swannanoa zip codes. Grant funds received from The Ramble Charitable Foundation are used for various needs of children in protective custody in the zip codes in the area of The Ramble and in the Shiloh community to help with after school pursuits. The Biltmore Lake Foundation funds are slated for aging out teens, homeless students and Kinship families in the Biltmore Lakes area zip codes. We use these funds to try to normalize the life of a child in foster care when they may already feel stigmatized.

Through the generosity of the Campaign for Southern Equality, we now have funds that will directly support the needs of the LBGTQ youth served through DSS. HARK received a generous award from the Walnut Cove Members Association and will use these funds to pay for summer camps, temporary housing for McKinney-Vento students and families, and to help pay the salary of our new part-time administrator.


HARK is grateful to the grantors who have stepped up to help us serve the needs of these vulnerable children and youth in our communities.


We Appreciate Our Sponsors