"Rev. Lynda Ferguson was the pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in 2009 when this project was born. Lynda wanted to create a place where Jesus' picture of the kingdom of God, as described in Matthew 25, could come to life. She rallied the support of the community and congregation in this endeavor, and created a space that would provide food and clothing to those in the eastern part of Rutherford County." says current pastor, Reverend Sam Burleson.
According to Donna Huss, Director of the Center, "The community building was previously home to a 4-H Club, Country Ham Dinner Fund-raisers, and a facility for youth meetings. The building and land was sold to Salem UMC for $1 so that it could continue to serve the community."
And so it began.
"When it first started out in 2009, we assisted 10 to 15 families per month. Now, we are steadily at 265 to 300 per month and the need continues to increase...As the demand continues to grow, our need for volunteers also grows." says Rev. Burleson.
When asked who were the individuals that made it happen, Rev. Burleson replied, "Don Beal was the biggest contributor to the physical space. He organized the construction teams and renovation. Caroline Wood was involved in the grant writing process and early visioning alongside of Rev. Ferguson. In 2010, Angie Leake came on the scene. She started as a volunteer as a way to give back to the community just after walking through a very difficult season of loss. She quickly bought into the vision of the Center, and found it giving her new life. For the past 5 years, Angie has been the chair of the board of directors for the center. Two years ago Richard Berhns was invited to join Angie as co-chair. Together, they continue to carry the mission and vision of the Center into greater Rutherford County."
"As the current pastor of Salem Church, I believe God has designed the church to be a place that is for the community. In our world, so many organizations are asking something from people, but we have the opportunity to say that we don't want something from you, we want something for you. The Washburn Outreach Center is a space that is specifically designed for our community. In the months and years to come, we want to create a space that all families in Rutherford County can benefit from. We believe that life is best lived when it is lived together, and our new chapter at the outreach center will surround this value. We will not only be a place that families can come to receive food and clothing, but we will be a place where families can come and be family together. With our outdoor walking track, playground, and acres of green space, we are actively creating a community center that stands for the good of all our families." - Rev. Sam Burleson, SUMC
"The unofficial mission statement for the Center comes from Matthew 25:35-36. Jesus says, '35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' This is the mission that Christ leads us all to, and the Washburn Outreach Center continues to be a place where that mission can come to life." added Rev. Burleson.
If you are interested in donating or volunteering your time, please contact Donna Huss at 828-245-5603 or drop by the Center. The Thrift Store hours are from 9am-2pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Food Pantry is open those same days between the hours of 9:30am-1:30pm. The Center is located at 2934 Piney Mountain Church Road, in Bostic, North Carolina.