Catherine Gantt has been a member of Bryson City United Methodist (UMC) for almost 25 years. As a retired psychologist who worked in public schools for 23 years, Catherine could feel the need in her community for a place of healing and support. After a long journey of planning and goal-setting with the head pastor, Restoration House Western North Carolina (WNC) was born. Catherine described how the vision for Restoration House was brought to life:“Our church has a building near the back parking lot that had previously been used to provide housing for the church’s youth ministers and the director of our daycare. However, it had fallen into disrepair. I started thinking it would be an awesome place for the surrounding neighborhood to come together for potluck meals and give some people a place to live temporarily if needed.”
Since 2014, Restoration House WNC has offered restorative services for the mind, body, and heart for the whole community. Catherine shed some light on some of the services and partnerships that have developed over time: “We have always strived to have a holistic approach to helping people in the community. The health clinic we partner with is called Swain County Caring Corner and they have a team of doctors and nurses that work in the clinic. We also work with a certified financial planner that provides financial services to underserved communities. When clients are having a hard time making ends meet, he is able to help them make the most efficient use of what they have. We have also partnered with Mountain Mediation Services, a conflict/resolution group that operates free of charge. Our goal is to provide services that are not repetitive and to help connect people to beneficial resources.”
Bryson City UMC has also prioritized healthy eating through an initiative called the Whole Life Challenge. The initiative promotes healthy habits through a diet that eliminates processed foods and sugars. Catherine elaborated on how the program was transformative to participants: “It makes you a little more conscious about how you’re living by making you think about daily habits that you may not normally associate with your health. This includes things like how much water you drink, sleep you get each night, and encouraging people to take time to reflect on the day — things that are actually really important and all fold together. That is the type of holistic approach that we strive for at Restoration House.”
The community garden at Restoration House has played a really impactful role in the community. Last year, they harvested 500 pounds of fruits and vegetables from the garden for everyone in the community. This year, they plan to partner with FedEx to distribute 1,000 pounds of vegetables to further relieve some of the burdens caused by food insecurity. Catherine also mentioned that they created a prayer labyrinth that passes through and serves as a walking path, meditative space, and area for relaxation and fellowship.
We are thankful to Catherine Gantt and everyone else at Bryson City UMC/Restoration House WNC for including us in their work. For more information on Restoration House, you can visit their website here, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.