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Danny Hampton

Executive Director

Danny has been serving in ministry leadership positions since his college days in 1982.  During his years of ministry he has served in many different ministerial arenas including youth ministry, music/worship ministry, counseling, education, family ministry, and senior pastoral ministry.  Danny has had the privilege to serve in ministry fields ranging from Orlando, Florida, to Endicott, New York and many places in-between. 

Educationally, Danny earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Mars Hill University and a Masters of Divinity Degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. 

In 2010, Danny and his family felt called to leave his pastorate in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and move back to his extended family’s homeland here in McDowell County.  Shortly after arriving in Marion, Danny became Chaplain of the Marion Minimum Security Unit and an Assistant Chaplain at the Marion Correctional Institution.  

It was during his time of serving as a prison chaplain that God birthed the vision for Freedom Life Ministries.  Danny has served as Chaplain and Executive Director of Freedom Life Ministries since its inception in November of 2012.

Danny’s hobbies include music, writing, sports of all kinds, golf, and hiking.

Jim Smith

Development Director

Jim is the newest addition to the executive team at Freedom Life.   He is gifted in the area of encouragement and administration. Jim is passionate about bringing the region together by engaging them to focus on community involvement and values – a community collaborator.  Jim has excelled in growing and building strong ministries.  He has a deep love for local and foreign missions and has a very diverse and creative background in missions logistics.   Jim has served on staff for over 25 years in regional churches in the capacities of youth, music, administration, programming and worship arts.   An educator by profession, he has taught music in middle and high schools as well as on the community college level. Jim has been the executive director of a fine arts municipal auditorium, through revisioning, this organization saw excelled growth and revitalization.    These diversities will bring a freshness and creativity to the area of growing the development of Freedom Life.

He has an Associates of Fine Arts from Brevard College, a Bachelors of Music Education from Mars Hill University and has extended his studies throughout the years. 

Jim is a native of Brevard, North Carolina.   He and his wife Margaret have been married for 23 years and they are the parents of two energetic boys.  In his spare time, Jim enjoys outdoors, community involvement, camping and reading.  

Karen MacKinnon

Executive Administrator

Karen is originally from Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville), North Carolina. Due to her parents’ military career she was blessed to grow up in other countries and has a heart for all people. Karen has a beautiful family she loves to spend time with. She loves to hike, go fishing, just being outside on an adventure, or crafting at home. Her husband Kenny also owns a small business. Karen has been involved with ministry work for 25 years.

Karen has been in the administration field for over 20 years. She has an office background in healthcare and other business settings. She has numerous years’ experience as a supervisor or office manager. She is a notary for the state of North Carolina and has certifications in other administrative areas. She has been a HIPAA Officer for several years as well. She has worked with other N.C. nonprofit organizations and enjoyed being a part of their ministries. Karen loves to help others and is thankful to be a part of Freedom Life. 


Melissa Nealley

Director of Client Care

Melissa has called Western North Carolina home for most of her life.  Her professional career has been to serve the citizens of McDowell by working in the county office. Melissa has also worked as a volunteer with the DSS Child Services Department for many years, where she served as both a foster parent and also as a Guardian Ad Litem.  Her vast experience in Child Services has uniquely qualified Melissa to help FL clients whose children are in the DSS system.

Melissa has served as a volunteer with FLM since its inception in 2013.  She has been working as a DSS Child Services Client Liaison and a Case Manager since 2014. 

Melissa’s own personal journey with God through many difficult life experiences has given her a seasoned capacity to connect with and care for the clients she serves. Her hobbies include traveling, swimming, and shopping.

kim brown

Client Care Case Manager

Kim has spent several years volunteering in her community. She is passionate about giving back and helping others live better lives through Jesus Christ. When you see Kim, you know that Christ lives in her heart. She is an advocate for women and has a desire to help them pursue their God given purpose. She is unapologetic about how she feels about God and the work he is doing in her heart.
Kim earned her Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Gardner Webb University. She has over 20 years in office administration and will use her skills and knowledge to flourish at Freedom Life.
In her spare time Kim enjoys spending time with her family. She loves sports, cooking, singing and crafting. 
The most important thing in her life, however, is to serve God. 

Tim Nealley

Freedom Pressure Washing (F.P.W.) Operations Manager

Tim is the first client Freedom Life served.  He has an amazing life transformation story.  Tim has vast experience in maintenance and plumbing.  He managed a Roto Rooter franchise.  He has also served as a Client Care Specialist.  He has great experience and effectiveness in identifying with and mentoring clients.

Melissa marlowe

SCA Program Director

Melissa Marlowe is excited to be a part of Freedom Life. She worked for 20 years with LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center as an Administrative Assistant to the Director and also supervised the summer staff and volunteer programs. She has spent the last five years exploring other career opportunities as a NC State life, health and medicare insurance agent, a tax resolution specialist with Atkins & Associates and an instructor with McDowell Technical Community College GED program. Melissa graduated in 2015 from Appalachian with a degree in Communications, Advertising and a minor in Business.

She attends East Marion Baptist Church and leads the weekly Celebrate Recovery Program. 
She has two children, Adam and Caycee and five grand-children. 
She is thankful that God has led her to Freedom Life Ministries. 

Regina Riggs

Asst. Financial Administrator & BRCCS Director

Regina is a McDowell county native.  She has an Associate’s Degree in Science from Western Piedmont.  Regina has been with Freedom Life since 2016.  She serves as the financial administrator for the Blue Ridge Community Care Services: a social security payee company that provides financial management for the individuals who require assistance in managing their social security or social security income payments. Regina also administrates the finances of Freedom Preasure Washing.   She is married to John for 34 Years.   Regina loves Freedom Life and the work it does for the community.  

Kelly Ballew

Financial Manager

Kelly serves as the Financial Manger for Freedom life, and is responsible for the accounting, receiving, forecasting, budget preparation, payments and payroll.  She joined Freedom Life in 2015.   Kelly has lived in McDowell county for the past 20 years and loves this community.   An interesting fact, she has an MRI Tech degree with 16 years of experience in MRI work.  Along with her technical experience, Kelly has been working with people in financial management for over 10 years.  She brings much expertise to her work as Financial Manager.   

Danny Wilson

Re-Entry Liaison

Danny serves as the liaison between Freedom Life and McDowell County Jail.  He helps to coordinate and facilitate pre-release programming that prepares incarcerated men and women for reintegration back into the community.   From there, he also helps coordinate working as a case manager with men and women whom have been incarcerated.  Danny was a client with Freedom Life and has a strong heart to work with those looking for a new beginning.  

Cindy Hampton

Client Care

Originally from South Carolina, Cindy has been part of the McDowell county community for over 10 years, which is also home to her extended family.  

Cindy’s background includes family ministry and substance abuse counseling, along with over 30 years of support and service with her husband through ministry in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey and New York. She graduated from Meredith College and has a Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  

Cindy is thankful to be part of the Freedom Life family and feels blessed to serve with such deeply committed people who have a passionate love for God and our community.   

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