The Bonner Leader Program

Ashlyn Henning


People have to cope with poverty daily and are constantly striving to maintain a better existence. But how can people better themselves without the proper knowledge and particularly, access to food and the needed exercise programs do so? West End Ministries is a friendly and safe place for those in the High Point community that offers meal assistance, utility assistance, a women’s shelter for those that currently do not have a place that they can call home, and so much more. I have learned through West End that simply a place to stay can help a person make it through a few nights, but accessible and helpful knowledge can help a person make it through the rest of their life.

This is why I love West End Ministries and am proud to call it my Bonner “home” for a second year in a row. Through the Bonner Leader Program, we work with nonprofits to make them even more successful and to integrate community work with our studies. This semester, our goal is to not only implicate monthly fundraisers at local businesses, but to also begin increasing and expanding food access programs as well as creating exercise programs. We want people to understand how to eat better and feel better regularly to guide them toward a happier and healthier life for themselves and their families. Once they have the knowledge of and access to the fresh fruits and vegetables, they can help those around them as well create more sustainable lives. Each week, we get to interact with people in the local community, and these are the faces I have known to grow and love. We want people to have healthier and fresher food. We want people to know how to exercise and teach them mini-programs they can do on their own. This semester, our drive is to see those amazing faces not only succeed, but to thrive on their own and for the rest of their lives. To me, that is what being at West End Ministries and what being a Bonner leader are all about.


What do you think of when you think of homelessness? Now take all of the stereotypes you just came up with in your head, and throw them out the window. Everyone once perceived as the typical homeless “look” no longer exists. Today, homelessness is much more common than you think, and effects people in ways unimaginable.

Working at West End Ministries, I’ve been able to meet some incredible women that were dealt a bad hand. Women with college degrees, women that owned businesses, and women with families, left without a place to live. These women work, these women work hard, and these women are positive and happy and upbeat all the time. This is what has made a huge impact on my life. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any given time, and that’s why the topic for the Bonner Chat that DuChante and I chose to talk about is so important. Homelessness isn’t just a no job, no family, alone, and not trying thing. It has no “look” or label.

The experiences I’ve had meeting with these women and having first hand encounters and conversations have really made me grow. I’ve realized how much bigger the world is than just my immediate, intimate community, and that everywhere someone has their own story. I’ve realized that no two stories are exactly the same, and storytelling becomes a time of liveliness, happiness, and joy. I’ve become more empathetic and sympathetic through the weekly interactions I get with the community members at WEM. Through my work with the Bonner Program and being at West End, I have realized that I am just one small piece to a very large puzzle of the world, and it’s my job to see what pieces fit where, and to learn about everybody else’s piece.



womenscenterforexcellence2The Women’s Center for Excellence at West End Ministries hosts wonderful programs that allow women to reach their full potential and determine their strengths. It encourages acceptance of diversity and equality. It’s a place where women strive to achieve excellence and integrity. It is a place all of the women of High Point can come and learn how to better themselves.

Needless to say, the grand opening was a huge success. I was personally able to join the women and participate in the events for the day. The events included speakers on healthy plants for the home and how to decorate your home from the bottom up. We also got to make inspirational magnets that I now love and look at every day. Lastly, Mary Kay representatives came and showed us what makeup colors to wear for the fall. In a few short hours, I learned how to have cleaner air in my dorm, how to accessorize my dorm, and that a pretty shade of red lipstick can go a long way!

I had a wonderful time meeting residents of High Point and interacting with them in a way that I never would have been able to if it weren’t for the Women’s Center. We bonded over which inspirational quotes we liked the most, and why. I learned their personal stories and talked about their children. I really saw how much love the residents of High Point truly possess. This center is a place for them to come, express that love with one another, and grow together, as a community. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get the opportunity to stop by the Women’s Center for Excellence and talk to them too.

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