How Hinton helped Philip


December 13, 2019

Any chance he gets, Philip tells his friends and neighbors about Hinton Rural Life Center’s home repair ministry. Last summer alone, Hinton hosted 650 home repair participants from churches across the Southeast and beyond. Mission teams took part in almost 250 home repair projects spread across 35 work sites in surrounding communities. For many in need, this outreach sounds almost too good to be true.

“I tell people about Hinton and they say, ‘Are you kidding?’” Philip said. “Around here in Clay County, there are a lot of people that don’t have that much money, and they need help.”

Hinton’s recent Quality of Life study found that more than 23.5 percent of the residential population in Clay County lives in poverty. For many of our neighbors, much-needed home repairs become a kind of “luxury” they cannot afford. “There are a lot of people in this area in this kind of shape that don’t have the money to do anything to their house,” Philip said. “They need to know about the Hinton Center because they do so much good work, it is unreal.”

Philip learned about Hinton’s work when his own family became part of the home repair ministry. “I’m disabled, and my front and back decks were getting rotten. Hinton came out and fixed my deck and put new handrails up to where I could get a hold of it really well,” Philip said. “My son, he was also disabled and in a hospital bed, and they even extended the (wheelchair) ramp so the ambulance would have no trouble getting in and out. The crews that worked on it knew exactly how to do everything and it looks great.”

Hinton Center would not be able to help and walk alongside our neighbors in need without your generous donations. As we enter this season of giving, we ask for your financial support to help us continue to be an instrument God uses to reach out to the community, through our Firewood, Garden, and Safe & Healthy Home Repair ministries.

“The teams talk to you like they’ve known you for years,” Philip said. “They are so nice and so professional. They know exactly what to do and they do a great, great job. We appreciate it so much.”

Cultivating Hope

Through your support, we are able to achieve our mission: Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach. Thank you for being a faithful partner in ministry with Hinton. We invite you and your family, faith community, or organization to join us soon to retreat, reflect and renew.

Leadership Chatuge graduates 2nd class


Leadership Chatuge graduates second class

If Leadership Chatuge’s second commencement ceremony made one thing clear, it’s that the class teaches skills that transcend life circumstances.

That fact became evident simply by listening to commencement speakers Cameron Gray and Camden Johnson — two of 15 area residents who graduated from the 12-week leadership program on November 19 at Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville.

Gray, a freshman at Hayesville High School, was the only teenager in class, but he didn’t let his fish-out-of-water status hold him back.

“It was a bit awkward at times and intimidating, but I was able to expand my social network,” Gray said. “One of the main things I learned was what this community has to offer. It has so many more non-profits and governmental organizations that I had no idea existed.”

Johnson, on the other hand, is a mother who was looking for a job that would provide better benefits and allow her to spend more time with her son.

“I’ve always worked these seemingly dead-end jobs,” Johnson said. “I was tired of late-night hours, not getting to see my kid, and I needed to find a job that was 9 to 5 so I could be home with him.”

Johnson gained new confidence and perspective into her own leadership style and strengths with the help of an assessment test that she took during the class.

“This class has brought out who I am,” she said. “When I went in for that (job interview), I became me. I got the job, great benefits, 9 to 5, 40 hours a week.”

Leadership Chatuge is the latest outreach of Hinton Center, funded by a generous grant from The Duke Endowment. The program was founded under the premise that rural communities thrive when they have strong local leadership, and it aims to develop leaders and emerging leaders who already live and work in our communities.

Session II of Leadership Chatuge class was comprised of individuals from Clay, Cherokee and Towns (Ga.) counties — a group offering diversity in many categories, including professions, gender, race, and age.

Patrick Woodie, president of the NC Rural Center, served as keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony. Woodie has emphasized a new era of community engagement while remaining focused on its mission of promoting sound economic strategies in rural North Carolina.

Hinton Center CEO Dr. Jacqueline Gottlieb said the idea for Leadership Chatuge was rooted in her own positive experience with Leadership North Carolina. However, because larger leadership courses typically also include larger financial, travel, and time commitments, Gottlieb wanted to create a locally-based program that was accessible to a wider variety of community members.

Leadership Chatuge’s graduates received a framed certificate of their achievement, as well as a locally-crafted mug featuring the organization’s logo. The concept behind the mug was to provide graduates with a tangible reminder about the importance of conversations.

The next leadership Chatuge class will begin in March. Applications will become available in January.

Ahrens ready to tackle Appalachian Trail


Ahrens ready to tackle Appalachian Trail

From Hinton Center to the Appalachian Trail? This week’s guest blog comes from former summer staffer Rachel Ahrens. What an adventure she’s about to embark upon – and we are so excited for her! My heart is happy to read more about her journey…

Hiya friends! Where do I even begin? Maybe with a short introduction, I suppose. My name is Rachel Ahrens, but some call me Dragonfly. I am a senior Outdoor Leadership major with a minor in Appalachian Studies at Young Harris College, located just about 15 minutes away from the Hinton Center. I was a Summer Staffer at Hinton for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 summers. I served as a Summer Missions Leader in 2017, a Field Manager in 2018, and the Missions Activities Coordinator in 2019, and for the summer of 2020 I have to opportunity to serve as the Appalachian Trail Chaplain with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is this really amazing opportunity in which I get to hike the Appalachian Trail (Maine to Georgia) serving as a Chaplain walking alongside those I meet. That’s where the name Dragonfly comes in, it’s my trail name, but I’ll get to that more in a bit. In all honesty, I would not have this opportunity without my time at the Hinton Center shaping who I am today.

While I worked at Hinton there was this stirring inside me to walk alongside individuals. I saw what we did, how we worked, and fell in love with it. In all honestly, I fell in love with the people. Hinton holds a special place in my heart because no matter who you are, or where you come from, they love you, and they respect you. My summers spent working with our homeowners and teams instilled this sense of certainty towards loving on people and meeting them where they are at, a passion for community.

After my first summer at Hinton, I came upon this job, the Appalachian Trail Chaplain, and fell in love with it – I mean I was hooked, it was always on my mind. It took this concept of walking alongside people that I was so passionate about and paired it with another one of my loves—backpacking. When I returned for my second summer I met some of the most incredible people (I did that all three years, but my second summer sticks out the most.) These people were intentional with me and wanted to what it was that drove me. The conversation about the Appalachian Trail and the chaplaincy came up many times, and these were friends who did nothing but encourage and empower me. When I was down, they would share backpacking books with me, when I doubted my abilities and question if I had what it took, they took me on a hike and encouraged me, there were friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world, my fellow staffers. Working at Hinton provides this wonderful community of likeminded people who just want to love people and love God—it’s beautiful.

Now I’ll jump forward a little bit, the Chaplaincy. As the Appalachian Trail Chaplain, I will walk the 2,190+ miles from Mt. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia commissioned as a chaplain, in which I will spend time with those on the trail in community with them, walking alongside them in whatever capacity that may look like. Many people hike the Appalachian Trail, and for many reasons too. Some hike during a time of transition, like after college, a job change, retirement; some hike after a loss, like divorce, death, job loss; some hike for healing or

clarity. The list could go on and on. The moral of the story is there are a lot of people out there, who come from a lot of different places of life, but they are all people who could use being loved on as people, not as the addict, or the widow, or the recent college grad who has no idea where to go next, just people. That is one of the things I love most about the community. You are surrounded by people who come from all walks of life, who all have different stories, but on the trail, they are on the same playing field.

One of the cool characteristics of the trail community is this idea of a trail name, a name you are given or go by on the trail, a new identity, like Dragonfly. Trail names are sometimes given to you by people influential to your journey (mine was given to me by a professor), some are given because of something that happened or a quality that other hikers notice about you on the trail, even still it can be a name you give yourself (less common) as someone you want to become. It’s wonderful and reminds me so much of the text in 2 Corinthians 5 and how we in Christ are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. The trail creates this new playing field, it wipes away the shame and stigma you may have faced before in your life, and you can take on a new self, you get to create who you are, and that is how you are known.

So whether you know me as Rachel or as Dragonfly, there is a common denominator, my identity as a beloved child of God. Over the years Hinton has instilled a heart for people and community, and understanding that people are people no matter where they have come from or what their past may have looked like and now I get to use that same calling as I walk (quite literally) into this new season of life, walking alongside individuals, loving on them and reminding them that whatever identity they create for themselves on the Appalachian Trail or whatever identity they walk in at home they are forever and always of worth and value and loved by God. Happy Trails!!

If you are a college-aged young adult (or know someone who is) and you want to learn more about Hinton Center’s summer staff opportunities, visit You never know where an experience in missions will lead you… “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

[Every summer Hinton Center hires college-aged young adults who are passionate about living out their Christian faith, building relationships with others, mentoring youth, leading teams on home repair sites, and facilitating programming / activities with youth and adults. We equip and train our staff, and provide a lot of leadership development opportunities. Although summer staff live on campus (and get to eat yummy food!), they have separate lodging from youth/adult groups. The great news is our staff don’t need to be skilled in home repairs, but flexibility, positivity and motivation are musts!]

Kilbride: A graduate heads to Greece


Jessie Kilbride (pictured left), makes coin purses with Threads of Hope ministry, a non-profit organization whose goal is to bring freedom in women’s lives.

Kilbride: A graduate heads to Greece

November 1, 2019

“’Oh, the Places You’ll Go’” by Dr. Seuss is running through my mind as I continue to read these wonderful journey stories from former summer staffers. This week’s comes from Jessie, and if you were here at Hinton Center during her time with us, you’ll remember her bright smile, encouraging words and cheery outlook on life. She’s continued serving God in many ways since her time here and we’re excited to share a bit of her story.” — Dawn Livingston

Greetings from the North (or your favorite Illinoian)! It’s a long story how I ended up at Hinton, but one God had His hand in. I suppose I should introduce myself; I am Jessie Kilbride. I worked on the summer staff team in 2017 and for two weeks in 2018. That summer is by far my favorite yet. The friendships built, memories made, community formed, and the love we all shared cannot be topped. God was MOVING that summer — and He continues to do so even now.

Back peddling a bit — I recently graduated from Olivet Nazarene University. My senior year was not what I imagined but one for the books. It’s amazing how God works when you earnestly pray for something and that year it was for community, vulnerability, and healing. Yet God brought about it all in a very odd way — through five concussions. Never having one in my life prior, then having five forced me to slow down and focus on caring for myself.

God challenged me in more ways than I could imagine but in the best of ways. It was a year of personal healing, many memories, and building even deeper relationships. I graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (located an hour south of Chicago) this past May, majoring in public relations and strategic communications with a marketing minor. I decided to work with One Collective, a non-profit organization that believes in bringing people together to serve the oppressed. My paths crossed with them at a job fair, the summer following Hinton, and I knew I wanted to work for them in some capacity. Naturally, I decided to see if they were seeking a communication intern. They were not. However, after a couple of conversations, they decided to take me on. My world was rocked!

That summer I interned with One Collective: editing different stories, learning about the many communities, building their Instagram page from scratch with another intern, and filming the ministry of one community in Joliet, Illinois. I knew I wanted to work for them in some capacity but wasn’t sure in what capacity. After many conversations and God knocking at my heart, I decided to serve in Koukaki, Greece (a community within Athens) for two years as a short-term-team coordinator.

My focus will be three-fold: first, I will be coordinating incoming teams and connecting them with a local church. Second, I will be serving in different programs such as working with the homeless community. Third, I will be using my marketing skills to promote home goods made from women who were caught in trafficking or worked as a prostitute.

What breaks my heart are the hearts who don’t know Jesus. The ones who don’t know their worth; that they are loved and matter. I have never been one to sit back and watch as the world goes by, especially when we can so easily help others. Using the skills that God equipped me with, I want to capture their story and move people to care and want to make a difference too. And I firmly believe that together we can make an impact: one community, one life at a time.

Throughout my senior year, I had an idea of what I wanted to do and the direction I wanted my life to head in, but God had an idea. One slightly more challenging and way more rewarding. A chance to reach people I could never have imagined and inviting others to join me on this journey.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” – Isaiah 41:10

Jessie’s comment about those who don’t know their worth; that they are loved and matter reminds me so much of our theme for 2020 – “Treasured.” Friends, there are so many people we encounter every single day who don’t believe that they have worth and that they matter. Just as Jessie is using her gifts to make a difference, we each can use ours too. If you want more information about Jessie’s journey, feel free to email her at

If you are a college-aged young adult (or know someone who is) and you want to learn more about Hinton Center’s summer staff opportunities, please contact Dawn at You never know where an experience in missions will lead you… “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

[Every summer Hinton Center hires college-aged young adults who are passionate about living out their Christian faith, building relationships with others, mentoring youth, leading teams on home repair sites, and facilitating programming / activities with youth and adults. We equip and train our staff, and provide a lot of leadership development opportunities. Although summer staff live on campus (and get to eat yummy food!), they have separate lodging from youth/adult groups. The great news is our staff don’t need to be skilled in home repairs, but flexibility, positivity and motivation are musts!]

Support Christmas Care of Clay County in 2019


Support Christmas Care of Clay County in 2019

You are invited to partner with us as we help area children with needed clothing such as jackets and sweaters, pants and shirts, and shoes and socks. Thanks to your generosity, 332 children from 125 families received clothes last Christmas. Our team is hoping that you will once again share in this cooperative, community effort.

We would probably all agree that Christmas can be a stressful time of year. It can be a particularly difficult time for many of our neighbors, and Christmas Care helps make a difference by fostering hope. As you know these children didn’t choose their circumstances, yet their need exists.

We also know the importance of treating our neighbors with dignity. We are excited that for the fourth year, we are offering the parents/guardians an opportunity to shop for clothing gifts for their children. Please know that we work diligently with Walmart to have a system in place with specific timeslots for shopping and a special checkout procedure. Nearly half of our families chose to shop at Walmart the past three years and what a fun time we had! We feel this allowed Christmas Care to be good stewards of the generosity of folks like you, while making it a hands-on experience for our neighbors.

While we are thrilled with continuing this possibility, we know that transportation and time can be stumbling blocks for some of our families, so we are still offering the option of providing the clothing gifts for children. The family will indicate whether they want to shop or if they want to come and pick up gifts. They will also indicate if they would like the gifts to be wrapped or unwrapped.   

So, how can you help? By sponsoring a child or children and committing to shopping and providing the clothing items, or by giving a monetary donation to be used for our shopping days or so that team members can purchase necessary clothing items (please see reverse for important updates).

We hope you will respond as soon as possible with a monetary donation or with a commitment to sponsorship.  Please call or email Dawn Livingston at or (828) 389-8336.  You may mail monetary gifts to Hinton Rural Life Center, Attn:  Christmas Care, PO Box 27, Hayesville, NC 28904. Please note that because of IRS regulations and bank requirements, checks will need to be made payable to “Hinton Center Christmas Care” or “Hinton Center” with Christmas Care in the memo. We will not be able to deposit checks payable to “Christmas Care (of Clay County).” All donations designated for Christmas Care will continue to be used for that purpose; this is simply a regulation we need to follow. Your donations are tax deductible.

Another great opportunity is that we’re again offering a free breakfast for all Christmas Care recipients. Would you be willing to volunteer to help serve and meet some of our neighbors? The breakfast will be on Monday, December 16 from 8:00 – 10:00 am at Hinton Center. If you would like to come help please call or email Dawn.

We thank you in advance for your partnership and commitment and look forward to serving alongside you as we reach out to the children in our community.

Christmas Care of Clay County

~ Support Christmas Care in 2019 ~

  • Give a tax deductible monetary donation directly to Christmas Care. Please make checks payable to Hinton Center Christmas Care or Hinton Center and note Christmas Care in the memo. Mail to:

Hinton Rural Life Center

Attn: Christmas Care

PO Box 27

Hayesville, NC  28904

  • Sponsor and shop for a child or children.
  • $75.00 maximum per child (If siblings are sponsored by two different people, this will help to keep the gifts as equitable as possible.)
  • Gifts of clothing should be the primary gifts. If you choose to include a toy or an additional item for a child, please limit it to one toy or item.
  • If you are interested in providing a family with food, please ask ahead of time. Some families may not be in need of food.
  • Remember, the family information will specify whether the family wants items wrapped.
  • Please complete all shopping by early December and return gifts to Hinton Rural Life Center (2330 Hinton Center Road, Hayesville). Gifts may be dropped off on Monday, December 2 thru Wednesday, December 4 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, and Thursday, December 5 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. **If you need to make other arrangements, please call Dawn.
  • Come volunteer at the breakfast on Monday, December 16 from 8:00 – 10:00 am at the Hinton Center. If you would like to come help please call or email Dawn.

Call or email Dawn Livingston at Hinton Rural Life Center with questions. (828-389-8336 or

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