Asheville, NC, Jan. 3, 2022 – A local charity that focuses on the needs of vulnerable children in Buncombe County is expanding to reach even more at-risk populations and has changed its name to reflect this wider mission.

Effective January 1, The Guardian ad litem Association (GALA) has been renamed Helping at Risk Kids, Inc. (HARK). Its mission is to provide support and resources for at risk children under protective custody of the Buncombe County Department of Social Services (DSS) and to promote a safe, enriching, and hopeful future for them. The new name and mission reflect increased demand for assistance for young adults in the county and beyond who age-out of DSS protection, and from the growing number of referrals from sources besides the state-mandated Guardians ad Litem who represent the children’s interests and act as their voice in family court.

GALA was established in 1991 as a membership organization made up of Guardians ad Litem in Asheville. As the needs of the children they served grew the association successfully expanded fundraising over the past several years.

“There is great need to help vulnerable children and young adults in our community” said HARK president John Paul.  “We are seeing more requests to help at risk kids, whether they are aging out of DSS programs or identified by other caregiving sources. The name change has allowed us to amend our charter, broaden our mission to meet growing needs, widen our target pool of potential donors and grantors, and create a name that more clearly communicates our mission.”

For the immediate future Paul said HARK expects most requests for assistance to still come from the Guardians on behalf of their cases. These include funding for basic needs such as clothing, bedding, school supplies, enrichment activities such as camp sessions, and emergency funding to assist struggling foster parents and family member caregivers with one-time needs such as home repairs, car maintenance, or utility payments.


HARK is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides support and resources for at-risk children in Buncombe County to promote a safe, enriching, and hopeful future.  We welcome donations to help our vulnerable kids (please visit to contribute) and invite volunteers who wish to make a difference in children’s futures to join our board.

Media Contact:
Nick Peters, HARK Communications
Mobile: (323) 646 2651

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