The Outreach Center
Reaching The World One Life At A Time

The Outreach Center
provides food and necessities, offers education and job skill training and most importantly, gives hope and love to the underprivileged and needy families of Western North Carolina.




In the midst of a year of many hardships, God has done miraculous things. We received and gave away nearly 3 million dollars worth of wonderful food to approximately 10,000 families. We purchased the Bi-Lo Center and are renovating it for expansion. Over 500 volunteers contributed 31,539 hours to assist those in need.

As always, our challenge remains to receive the donations needed to keep The Outreach Center in operation.

We welcome you to come and visit us. Nothing takes the place of a first hand view of our operation. Thanks for your continued support.

Larry Johnson

Executive Director

The Outreach Center
510 E. Fleming Drive
PO Box 1003
Morganton, N.C. 28680

Hours of Operation
8:30am - 5pm


The Outreach Center distributes nearly 40,000 pounds of food each week to between 700 and 1000 families. We serve groceries and household items to the needy which includes elderly, handicapped, unemployed, and others struggling for their daily sustenance. We have a volunteer base of over 600 people who give of their time and energy to carry out this program. We invite you to call and come by for a tour of our facilites.

Who We Are

The Outreach Center is a community-based, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) mission organization that serves Burke and surrounding counties in Western North Carolina through its food, clothing, education, and crisis-assistant programs.


The Outreach Center's mission is to assist disadvantaged citizens to rise above their circumstances and improve their quality of life. 


1. To nourish the body.  
2. To clothe the needy.  
3. To nullify illiteracy.  
4. To nurture the heart.   


1. Provide free, nourishing groceries to hungry families through our Outreach Food Distribution Center.
2. Provide clothing and household items to needy families through our Fresh Look center.
3. Provide free adult literacy, GED preparation, and career-education training through our Fresh Start program.
4. Provide crisis counseling, agency referrals and prayer--when requested.

We began with a big vision to help the hurting and needy. Our hearts went out to the many elderly and handicapped in our community who were struggling to meet their basic necessities. We had a desire to help them and the many working poor in our community by providing assistance with their weekly groceries. We began providing food to one or two families each month. We quickly saw that the need was so great and we believed that we could help meet that need. We stepped out and advertised free groceries to those with a need. Our first official week we had 129 families in line to receive.                                                                                            

Now into our third year we are providing groceries to between 600 and 1000 families every week. We distribute food to other agencies, homeless shelters, and satellite locations in Burke and surrounding counties. We give approximately 40,000 pounds of food each week to the underserved, unemployed, and elderly in our communities.

We offer free GED, literacy classes, job training and computer literacy classes daily. Our goal is not only to offer free sustenance but to empower the people to rise above their circumstances and improve their way of life.

We have over 600 volunteers, and approximately 130 of them work each week to make this distribution possible. We operate entirely by donations and volunteer support. We give freely to all those in need regardless of age, race, or ethnic background.

There are many volunteer opportunities. We would love for you to join us!!!



"Thank you so much for your humanitarian work in Burke County. It is absolutely amazing that your center is able to feed 800 families per week. You and all your organization are to be commended and praised for your extraordinary efforts to make Burke County a better place to live...."
~John T. McDevitt (Sheriff of Burke County) 
"....Your organization is doing wonderful work for the community. I think we are all amazed by the amount of food you are able to provide to people in need. Hopefully, you will continue to receive the wonderful donations of food that have made your program so successful. Thanks for all you do for Burke County."~Joyce Mills (Executive Director of Burke County United Way)
"Words can't express how much I appreciate the food I get there. I live alone and have been for 14 years, and no one who does eats a balanced meal. Cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and dinner is mostly what I have been eating. You have given me food I did not know existed, now I can just put in the microwave some of the lunches and have a balanced meal very quickly. I almost feel like 60 instead of 82 now. I also appreciate the concern everyone has for us, asking and praying for us. God bless and
keep you all." ~P.P.
"Just bringing the bag of groceries home each week gets me so emotional I cry all the way back home to my mom's. My mother is very hard working and she's a widow with 10 other kids at home always waiting for her support. You guys don't know how much that bag of groceries means to me. Thank you for your love. God Bless and keep you all
for eternity." ~J.L.
"I would like to thank all of you at `The Outreach Center` for the help you have been to me and my family and others in our community. The last three years have been very difficult for my husband and my self. He was hurt in an accident a few years ago. His legs and knees were caught between two cars when a car loader ran into the car he was working on. His spine was cracked in two places and his neck injured. I have been our main support since then. Last August I lost a good job due to a cut back where I was working and had to take a lesser paying job in order to survive. God is blessing and we hope to soon be on our feet again. The food we have been getting and the prayers have helped us to go on. Thank all of you again for all you do for those people around you who are in need." ~L.H.
"I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the help you have given me, my future husband and my unborn baby Katlyn. I don't think words can say how much we appreciate the help you have given us. If it wasn't for you all, we would starve. Thank you for being so kind. I don't really get to say it because ya'll are so busy on Tuesday's, but thank you and God bless." ~A.R.



Our Board of Directors

Mr. Dean Epley, Chairman

Mr. Epley is a Certified Journeyman / CNC Machinist with Dana Corporation. He was educated at Western Piedmont Community College.

Mr. Epley brings his devotion to serving the underprivileged to the helm as our Executive Board Chairman. His Native American heritage as a descendant of the Catawba Tribe gives him a heart for minority issues.

Dean’s personal interests include amateur radio broadcasting, classic car restoration, fishing, and his family.

Why I Serve: "To always be a blessing to someone else."


Mrs. Beth Guzman, Vice Chairman

Mrs. Guzman is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of North Carolina Department of Justice in Morganton, North Carolina. She received her B.A. from the University of South Florida and her J.D. from the University of Florida.

Beth is the director of our grant-writing team. She has served as Guardian Ad Litem.

Her personal interests include travel, health, nutrition, and children’s and mental health issues.

Why I Serve: "To share love, mercy, grace and strength with others."


Mrs. Holly Johnson, Secretary

Mrs. Johnson is co-senior pastor at Christian Outreach Church. She earned her accounting degree at Western Piedmont Community College. Her varied business background includes corporate accounting management.

Holly serves as the volunteer Program Director for The Outreach Center.

Mrs. Johnson is an inspiring leader and gifted counselor. Her genuine love and compassion touch many lives. She is an accomplished vocalist and musician.

Her personal interests include exotic birds, health and nutrition, and her wide circle of friends and family.

Why I serve: "My background has given me the insight and the heart to help people better themselves."

Mrs. Margaret Pearson, Board Member

Mrs. Pearson is retired from retail merchandising and manufacturing.

She brings insight to the board regarding African American and constituent issues.

Mrs. Pearson volunteers at The Outreach Center as a lay counselor and provides hunger-relief program orientation and registration. Her ability to listen and her genuine compassion endear her to everyone she encounters.

Her personal interests include sewing, knitting, baking and spoiling her grandchildren.

Why I Serve: "I have a desire to help people."


Mrs. Mary Hewat, Board Member

Mary is an adult-education instructor for Western Piedmont Community College. During her public school tenure she served as an elementary teacher, observer-evaluator for Burke County Public Schools, and Director of the Career Development Program. Her administrative degree is from the University of North Carolina.

Mrs. Hewat volunteers as Project Director for our Fresh Start adult education program. She is devoted to assisting our disadvantaged constituents to obtain their GEDs and prepare for successful employment. Mary also serves as a member of the grant-writing team.

Mrs. Hewat personally enjoys reading, walking, friends, and family.

Why I Serve:

 "I can’t help it!"


Mrs. Michelle Fortune, Treasurer

Mrs. Fortune is the Director of Nursing and Administrator for an ambulatory surgical center in Hickory, North Carolina. She earned her nursing degree from Gardner-Webb University and holds a national certification in ambulatory peri-anesthesia.

Mrs. Fortune is a talented songwriter and local recording artist. Her Outreach Center Benefit Concert brought increased community awareness and support for the center’s hunger-relief program.

Michelle enjoys volunteer work, cycling, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Why I Serve: "I enjoy the fulfillment I receive from knowing I have touched another life."


Mr. Mike Martin, Board Member

Mr. Martin is the owner of Martin Family Ford in Morganton. He is a key leader in The Outreach Center’s hunger-relief program.

Mr. Martin is well known in the community, not only through the employment his business provides, but also through his personal service as a committee member in several charitable organizations. He also works with various prison ministries. His quiet demeanor and deep-seated faith are an inspiration to all who know him.

Mr. Martin enjoys water activities, travel, and his family.

Why I Serve: "I care about people."

Our Advisory Team


Wayne F. Abele, Sr.~County Commissioner/ Restaurant Owner
4112 Oakland Drive
Morganton, NC 28655
Mr. Abele is the current Vice President of the United Way, The Vice Chair of the Salvation Army, board member of 15 to 20 non-profit boards local and statewide.

Rev. Ronald J Knight~Senior Pastor, Gaston Chapel AME Church
205 Inglewood Drive
Morganton, NC 28655
Rev. Knight is the President of the Burke County Ministers Conference, Board member of the Burke Redevelopment Commission. He has served with Big Brothers- Big Sisters.

Diann Thomas Tate~Retired School Media Coordinator
3795 St. Paul's Church Road
Morganton, NC 28655
Mrs. Tate is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Caring Hearts Church Mission. She is a member of Morganton Human Relations Community Commission of which she was the past Chairperson. She has served as President of the Burke County NAACP and as past president of the Burke County School Librarians.

Dr. Paula G Reynolds~Chiropractic Physician
1460 US 70 West
Valdese, NC 28690
Dr. Reynolds is a member of the Valdese Pilot Club. She was the past Vice President of the Morganton Pilot Club.

Oscar Tate~Retired Veteran
3795 St. Paul's Church Road
Morganton, NC 28655
Mr. Tate is a part of the Burke County NAACP. He is on the Resource Community Committee for the Western Correctional Center and a part of the Caring Hearts Mission Outreach.

Javier Guzman~Electrical Technician/HVAC
837 Eastview Street
Morganton, NC 28655
Mr. Guzman is of Hispanic descent and is aiding us in assistance to the Hispanic in our community.

David Learner~Attorney
P O Box 2024
Morganton, NC 28680
Mr. Learner has been the Assistant District Attorney and is actively involved in community affairs.





Every TUESDAY from 6 to 8:30pm
 ~Weekly Food Distribution~
On Tuesday, doors open at 5pm and distribution begins at 6.
EMERGENCY needs are taken on a walk in basis.


Ways to Help


The Outreach Center is totally dependent on donations from compassionate people like you, who are willing to help; and we are constantly looking for better ways to generate funds for our operating budget.

During the remainder of 2004, T.O.C. will be hosting a number of events to raise community awareness about the plight of some of our citizens.

If you choose to help, you may contact us regarding volunteering. If you decide to give financially, you may send a check or money order made payable to "The Outreach Center" to this address:  



The Outreach Center
510 East Fleming Drive
P.O. Box 1003
Morganton, NC 28655




To return to the main page click