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Meet Debbie Pressley, Our First Arc Hero!

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Debbie Pressley from Asheville. Debbie, can you share with us when you first embarked on your journey as a volunteer with The Arc?


Debbie Thank you for having me. My journey with The Arc began around thirty years ago when Linda McDaniel walked into my salon, Three's Company. Linda's spirit and dedication were infectious, and before I knew it, I was fully immersed in the world of volunteering alongside her. You see, when Linda asks for help, you just can't say no. It's been an incredible journey ever since, filled with love and purpose.

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Could you share with us about some of the Arc programs you've been a part of?


Debbie Absolutely. Apart from my work with The Arc, I've also volunteered with Transformation Village. In 1995, I took on the role of being the gift coordinator for Vision Nicaragua, ensuring that children there received special gifts. It was a transformative experience, one that deeply resonated with me. And then there's Operation Santa, which holds a special place in my heart. When Linda entrusted me with leading this program, it became a community effort. My clients eagerly joined in, some taking on multiple names to ensure every child had a gift. It's truly heartwarming to see the generosity and compassion of everyone involved.


How would you encourage others to join you in this inspiring initiative?


Debbie To anyone considering joining Operation Santa, I would say this: it starts with having a passion for supporting those with special needs. For me, this passion has always been ingrained in my life, having had special needs individuals close to me from a young age. But beyond that, it's about realizing the impact we can make together. Operation Santa isn't just about gifts; it's about spreading joy and love to those who need it most. So, if you have a heart for giving and a desire to make a difference, I wholeheartedly encourage you to join us this coming fall. You'll find that the rewards of giving far outweigh anything else.

The program was incredibly successful this year. We ensured that every single individual was taken care of, right down to the wire. It's our commitment to leave no one behind. For many of these kids in group homes, our gifts might be the only ones they receive. That's why we take their want lists seriously. It's our chance to bring warmth and joy to their lives during the holiday season.


And… I couldn't do anything without the help from my girls at the shop. You see, they're the backbone of our efforts, supporting me every step of the way. Together, we make sure no one is forgotten – and that's something truly special.


I've heard you're also instrumental in organizing the dances each year. Could you elaborate?


Debbie Anne Hensley and I coordinate these dances twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and let me tell you, the excitement among the kids is palpable. They eagerly anticipate these events, regardless of their dancing abilities. It's about creating an inclusive space where they can simply enjoy themselves, mirroring the experiences of their peers. We welcome volunteers with open arms because every extra hand makes a difference.


How would you inspire someone to take a look at what we're doing and get involved with The Arc of Buncombe County? 


Debbie You know, I feel like a lot of people have a connection to someone with special needs. Whether it's a family member or someone they've encountered in their community, it's not uncommon to have that bond. And once you realize that these individuals are just like you and me, with the same desires for love and attention, it changes your perspective.


If you have some extra attention and love to give, I urge you to come and witness firsthand what we're doing at The Arc. Take a moment to observe, ask questions, and see the impact of our work. The Arc of Buncombe County is an incredible organization, and I'm truly grateful to be a part of it.


That's wonderful to hear! Is there anything else you'd like to share about The Arc?


Debbie Just that I'm continually inspired by the dedication and compassion of everyone involved. Together, we're making a real difference in the lives of individuals with special needs, and there's no greater reward than that.

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