Monday, July 23, 2012

A New Face

Have you noticed the new face popping up around The Commonplace? You may have seen him while Keith, Deb and others moved Common Heart’s offices into its new space and reorganized Common Things Thrift Store. Or maybe you noticed him adding fresh produce to grocery bags full of government commodities at the JB ACTS food pantry. He even makes occasional trips to the North Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, businesses and individuals’ homes to pick up donations. And that was just his first month on the job!

So, who is this busy guy? Joshua Hoke, our summer intern. Joshua is a senior at Western Carolina University majoring in psychology who was recruited primarily to help develop Common Heart CONNECTS, the branch of Common Heart that provides information and resources about nonprofits and government organizations to community members in need of vital services.

“At first I was reluctant to start because this job because it has more of a social work aspect,” Joshua admits. His experience, however, has been priceless. As a trained benefits counselor, Joshua has been able to help underprivileged residents of Union County in a huge way.

“If anyone who comes into our food pantry on Tuesdays needs food stamps, I am able to…do a quick check to see if they are eligible for receiving that type of aid,” he said. Benefits counselors like Joshua help simplify the process of applying for government programs, cut out long lines at Social Services and foster personal relationships. “When people come to me, it's a one-on-one basis…I can find out if they need any other help and set them up with potential resources if needed.”

This past year, Common Heart CONNECTS has been in its developmental stages. Our VITA tax preparation program, which was a success completing 45 tax returns for households earning less than $50,000 annually, is just one part of CONNECTS. In 2013, Common Heart will fully launch its benefits counselor services. Get involved by contacting Keith at

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