I didn’t realize how cold it was until I stepped out of my warm car into the parking lot outside Eblen Charities at Westgate Shopping Center in Asheville. A silvery, pre-dawn frost lay on the grass between cars parked by people hoping that Eblen would help them with their heating bills this winter by providing oil, natural gas or money for electricity. It was the first day of November.
Standing outside the door to the Eblen offices was 48-year-old Willie Montville. Montville lives with her 27-year-old daughter and five-yearold grandson in a $412-a-month mobile home in Candler in a place “so far out, it ain’t on the GPS.” Through the glass door, I could see a hallway packed with people. There were well over 200 people inside waiting to be interviewed.