Although Kim Barnhardt’s volunteer name badge only states her name, there’s a joke around here that it should really say “Volunteer Queen.” After retiring from 18 years of nursing, Kim is a staple on our Avery campus, always finding ways to serve our staff and children. She is also a valued member of Crossnore’s Board of Trustees.
How it all began.
Kim first found out about Crossnore through her father in law, Tom Barnhardt, who is a longtime friend of Crossnore. “He’s donated to Crossnore for decades, and would do things like fund trips for the kids,” Kim shares. “And at holidays he’d ask that we give to Crossnore instead of purchasing gifts for him.” Mr. Barnhardt shared with them all, including Kim’s three children – Jennifer (33), Emily (31), and Lucas (26) – a contagious passion for giving to and serving Crossnore.
Each Christmas Kim’s children were gifted money by their parents to donate to a charity of their choice. “My girls donated to organizations helping the suffering. But when my son, Lucas, was younger, he’d give to things like Appalachian Football,” laughs Kim. “He also gave to UNC Chapel Hill one year and wrote a note along with his donation saying ‘Thanks for helping my mom be a nurse.’”
A growing passion for Crossnore.
Although Kim knew about Crossnore and had visited and donated for more than a decade, it wasn’t until the last five years that she became intimately involved with the organization. “I am just so impressed with the staff and their passion for children,” says Kim. “If you just go and spend time on campus and with the staff, you realize that your money is being used in such a beautiful way.”
Kim has a special passion for the older children at Crossnore. She leads a program where she works to pair adult mentors with our children about to age out of care. These mentors form relationships with Marjorie Williams Academy graduates and then continue to stay in touch with them as they move off campus.
Kim’s favorite assignment.
Kim’s favorite “assignment” was serving as the Visiting Resource for one of our former students – now U.S. Marine – Dalton Geouge. “I have great memories of my time with Dalton,” Kim recalls. “Panthers games, dinner, going to the movies, riding motorcycles (after he was 18, of course), service work, and shopping.” All three of Kim’s children met and loved Dalton, and he became one of the family.
Keeper of the “Birdcage”
Kim is also our Birdcage Sorter Organizer Beautifier Extraordinaire. The “Birdcage” is our storage and store area on our Avery campus where cottage parents can bring children to get what they need. There are many sections to the Birdcage including necessities and toiletries, clothing, winter coats and hats, bedding, school uniforms, books, craft supplies, baby and toddler supplies, seasonal items, and more. Our young ladies’ favorite area is the prom section where they can pick out a beautiful dress in the spring. We also have a room full of new toys where cottage parents can come pick out gifts for the children’s birthdays.
Kim organizes donations as they come in, sorting them, and putting them in the appropriate areas. She hangs all the clothes and orders them by sizes. She pulls the used items out and sends them down to the Sales Store, and reorganizes items on the racks and shelves after folks have come through to “shop.” “I like this nitty gritty work,” says Kim. “The staff do so much. They need to be able to get in and get out quickly, and they need to be able to focus on the children. If I can make it easier on them, I want to do that. It gives me joy.”
A family affair.
Kim is passing down her love and desire to serve Crossnore. Last fall, Kim’s daughter, Emily, who is working on her Masters in Social Work, joined us as an intern with our Program Excellence Department. “She didn’t even tell me she was applying,” says Kim. “That was a surprise!”
Although Kim inspires others, she says the children inspire her too. She recalls fondly how the younger kids looked up to Dalton. “I was so proud of Dalton when he graduated from the Marine Corp last February,” she recalls. “It’s so important to realize the impact these kidshave on their peers, and have on us, despite their circumstances and obstacles. They inspire us. They give us hope.”
Investing in the future.
“These children are our future,” Kim states simply. “Crossnore is doing all they can to give them hope and a sanctuary. It has changed my perspective on the world. I know that I can help make a difference. I can help Crossnore make a difference. No matter how big or how small, all of us can make a difference.”
That’s the truth. And for Kim, whether it’s serving as a Visiting Resource for one of our children, identifying and connecting mentors with seniors, cooking a meal for our Academy staff, serving on the Board, or doing nitty gritty work in the Birdcage, the difference she is making is felt far and wide. And we are so very grateful.