Q. How many children in Buncombe County are helped by HARK during the year?
A. In 2021, we fulfilled requests for over 300 children, primarily children under Court protection.
Q. What happens when children under court protection turn 18?
A. One of the most vulnerable groups is the teens aging out of the system at 18 years old. Although they are eligible to continue getting some services through DSS until they turn 21, not all take advantage of this opportunity. On average 14 to 15 teens find themselves in this situation every year.
Q. Why does the Helping at Risk Kids (HARK) need to raise funds?
A. 100% of the children/families served by DSS and the GAL program live in poverty. 30% of the children are placed with kinship providers who receive no monthly stipend for the care they provide. Only licensed foster care providers receive funding from the government.
Q. What types of items does the HARK fund?
A. About 50% of our funding goes towards enrichment activities including camps, athletic programs, class field trips, school year-end activities, gymnastics, swimming lessons, driver’s education, etc. Other budgeted items include basic necessities such as clothing, school supplies, education needs such as tutoring, computers, etc.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, we are seeing more requests for educational items and activities for homebound youth. The longer this situation continues, the longer we anticipate more humanitarian requests from the children and families we serve.
Q. Who are our Community Partners?
A. HARK has developed a number of key relationships in the community. We work closely with the YMCA of WNC to send children and teens to their overnight Camp Watia near Bryson City. Since the camp opened in 2016, we have had 50 children participate. We also have numerous children participate in the YMCA’s day camps and after-school programs.
The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Two Men and a Truck support older teens and young adults moving out on their own. Blue Ridge Orthodontics supports the children who need orthodontia through their Blue Star Program and cannot afford treatment.
The Community Foundation of WNC, Walnut Cove Members Association, Cathedral of All Souls, Zoe Dental, and a large number of private donors support the HARK financially.
Q. How does HARK determine how my donation will be spent?
A. Each Guardian ad Litem can identify the unique needs of the children they represent and submit a financial request to HARK. Whereas DSS Social Workers may have dozens of child cases they are representing, GALS have only one or two cases so are able to target a specific need of the child. We also coordinate with DSS directly on the needs of older teens and young adults who have aged out of foster care but are in the 18- to 21-year-old program.
HARK is expanding its role to help even more at-risk children who may not be represented by a GAL as we work toward building new partnerships in the community that helps identify the specific needs of these children.
HARK is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. We are very good stewards of our financial resources. With no paid staff and minimum overhead, the majority of our funding goes directly to the children we represent.