May 21, 2020

211 Impact Story – Helping family say goodbye after a death

(Information provided by NC211 from a call received in April by a 211 call specialist. Full names are withheld to protect the privacy of the caller and call specialist.)

Wanda’s younger brother passed away from COVID-19. 

The situation was very stressful because Wanda did not get to visit him and say goodbye due to social distancing and the current rules around staying at home. Her brother’s funeral was going to be held in South Carolina. 

Wanda called 211 because she didn’t know if it would be safe to travel to South Carolina while the stay at home order is in place in North Carolina and what restrictions are in place in South Carolina. 

The NC 211 Call Specialist, hearing the sadness and anxiety in Wanda’s voice, put Wanda on a brief hold and reached out to 211 partners in South Carolina to find out what rules were in place in that state. The call specialist was able to reassure Wanda that she would be able to travel to South Carolina for her brother’s funeral and be with her family. 

Wanda was grateful that with one simple call she could get the information she needed during this very difficult and stressful time.

If you or someone you know ever needs help call 211 or visit nc211.org.

May 13, 2020

211 April Impact Story – One call leads to help with rent, food, emotional support

(Information provided by NC211 from a call received in April by a 211 call specialist. Full names are withheld to protect the privacy of the caller and call specialist.)

Jack has been a waiter for more than 20 years and loves his profession. He thrives on being in the restaurant and interacting with customers. Jack has made a good living, always able to pay his bills, but without much to save. 

Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the restaurant where Jack works has temporarily closed, and he found himself suddenly unemployed and worried about how he will pay rent, other bills and buy food. Jack called 211 to find out where to start because he has never had to ask for help.

The NC 211 call specialist listened to Jack’s story and then provided him with information on how to file for unemployment. The specialist also explained to Jack about his rights as a tenant during this time and how to have a conversation with his landlord. 

The specialist provided Jack with information on food pantries and distributions near him. Sensing that Jack might also be suffering from anxiety and depression due to the sudden changes in his circumstances, the specialist gave Jack the number for a statewide mental health hotline.

This is just one of more than 33,000 calls made to 211 during April – all dealing with COVID-19 related needs. In the same timeframe, there were 271 calls to 211 in Catawba County with housing, food and employment the top three concerns.

NC 2-1-1 is the health and human services information line provided by United Way of North Carolina. Since 2005, donations to the Catawba County United Way have helped support 211 in Catawba County and made sure this doorway to help has been available to those in need.                                  

If you need help call 211 or visit nc211.org.

 

May 8, 2020

A Letter from the Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor

What do you say?

At a time, such as we are experiencing now, what do you say?  How do you act?  How do you feel? 

There are three areas of concerns, as a result of COVID-19, that come to mind: physical, financial and emotional. 

First, there are the people who have physically contracted this horrible virus and experienced horrendous pain and suffering.

Second, there is the financial destruction due to job loss and interruption of services with fear of food insecurity and homelessness.

Third, there is the emotional toll from all the above.

Hence brings me to the question of how do we help one another?  

As the Executive Director of Catawba County United Way, I search for the perfect solution…hoping to find the golden egg. While there may not be just one crown jewel there are many non-profits offering to ease the pain or walk beside you during the trials of today’s challenges. 

I’ve seen firsthand how local programs have adapted to this “new normal” we all find ourselves in and have met the challenges they faced.

They’ve embraced the use of digital technology to stay in contact with clients to offer financial assistance and counseling services. They’ve found inventive ways to continue to provide shelter and food to those in need and still abide by social distancing expectations.

Non-profits are acting together and not as an island unto themselves, and they are examples of what we as a community can accomplish when we stand shoulder to shoulder. 

I am proud of what we’ve all accomplished as a community, and you should be also. What do you say…we are here for you.

To learn more about resources in Catawba County visit http://www.ccunitedway.com/COVID-19-Resources.

 

May 4, 2020

Emergency Food and Shelter federal funds available in Catawba County

Catawba County has been awarded federal funds made available through the department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board program.

Catawba County has been chosen to receive $60,394 for Phase 37 and $86,104 for Phase CARES to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county.

The selection was made by a National Board that is chaired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and consists of representatives from American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; The Jewish Federation of North America; The Salvation Army; and United Way Worldwide.  The Local Board was charged to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas around the country.

A local board made up of representatives from Catawba County United Way, Catawba Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, The Hickory Ministerial Association, The Salvation Army, a homeless or formerly homeless representative, and a representative of county government, will determine how the funds awarded to Catawba County are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in the area. The local board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds available under this phase of the program.

Under the terms of the grant from the National Board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must: 1) be private voluntary non-profits or units of government, 2) be eligible to receive Federal funds, 3) have an accounting system, 4) practice non-discrimination, 5) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs, and 6) if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board.  Qualifying agencies are urged to apply.

Catawba County has distributed Emergency Food and Shelter funds previously with Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Exodus Homes, Family Care Center, Family Guidance Center, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Hickory Soup Kitchen, Morningstar First Baptist Church, The Corner Table, and The Salvation Army participating. These agencies were responsible for providing utility and rent/mortgage assistance, meals and lodging for Catawba County citizens in need throughout the past year.

Public or private voluntary agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds must contact Tammy Dotson at the Catawba County United Way office at tdotson@ccunitedway.com or go to our website at www.ccunitedway.com and look for EFSP FUNDS AVAILABLE for an application. The deadline for applications to be received is Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 5 p.m.

 

April 28, 2020

Volunteers at The Corner Table Soup Kitchen prepare more meals to hand out. Because of social distancing, the organization only does take-out now. The Corner Table is one of eight other non-profits who were recipients of the Catawba County United Way’s first allocation from its Covid-19 Response Fund. The focus during this first cycle was on supporting the most immediate needs currently created by the current pandemic.

 

Catawba County United Way releases first round of COVID-19 Response Fund

JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

Worry and fear have become the new normal for many during the current crisis created by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Catawba County United Way (CCUW) decided in mid-March to gather the resources it had to bring back some hope to those devastated by this pandemic. It created the Catawba County United Way COVID-19 Response Fund.

Eight local non-profit organizations recently received the first allocations from this fund affecting the lives of nearly 500 individuals.

The CCUW Community Impact Committee voted on a total distribution amount of $33,612 out of the $86,500 initially raised through donations from individuals and foundations.

As the current crisis continues to grow each day, the need for additional donations does as well. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to make contributions to the Response Fund to ensure even more non-profits can be helped.

The Committee’s focus during this first cycle was on supporting the most immediate needs currently created by COVID-19. They also wanted to make sure there was no duplication of services.

The agencies receiving funding included:

  • Adult Life Programs ($5,000) – to supplement funds used to help feed participants in their program – 90 individuals helped.
  • ALFA-AIDS Leadership Foothills Area Alliance ($5,000) – to meet the increased need for emergency financial assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS, including assistance with housing, utilities, food and medical needs – 50 people helped.
  • Safe Harbor ($5,000) – to be used by the agency for expenses incurred by COVID-19 to support for women in the agency’s transitional apartments – 16 individuals helped.
  • The Salvation Army of Greater Hickory ($5,000) – to purchase additional food and resources for the homeless residents and help to cover the cost of more employee hours to man the shelter 24/7 – 46 individuals helped.
  • Catawba Valley Behavioral Health Care ($2,112) – provide lunch meals for individuals with serious mental illness and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities living in the agency’s 5 Group Homes; and provide lunch or dinner meals (or groceries to make meals) 7 days per week for individuals with serious mental illness residing in our Apartments – 46 individuals helped.
  • Exodus Homes ($5,000) – funds to be used by the agency for expenses incurred by COVID-19 – 73 individuals helped.
  • Family Care Center ($1,500) – to provide transportation, food, paper products, cleaning supplies for the agency’s clients – 15 individuals helped
  • The Corner Table Soup Kitchen ($5,000) – to purchase supplies for the soup kitchen, to-go-bags, frozen meals, and for food supplies for the backpack program – 160 individuals helped.

The CCUW will continue to prioritize funding as it is available for front line programs providing aid to Catawba County residents affected by emerging health, economic, and social impacts caused by the current crisis.

You can support this fund by donating online at http://www.ccunitedway.com/Covid-19-Emergency-Fund-donations or through our Facebook page, facebook.com/catawbacountyunitedway/.

Also visit the CCUW’s COVID-19 resource webpage for more information: http://www.ccunitedway.com/COVID-19-Resources.

This funding is collected separately from those dollars allocated through Catawba County United Way’s annual campaign. 

 

April 22, 2020

 

211 is a lifeline during COVID-19

STAFF REPORTS

On March 18, Governor Roy Cooper announced NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina as a resource people can call for assistance related to COVID-19.

Since then 211 has helped families find food, healthcare, employment advice and hope.

Catawba County United Way is one of several community partners who help fund this program.

The health and human services information line has handled a total of 22,428 calls since activation on March 18, with more than 3,200 related to COVID-19 specifically. There were 67,517 active users on the 898-211 text platform.

The following is one of those stories from March provided by the NC 211 call center. It is an example of how important getting the information you need, when you need it makes all the difference during an emergency.

Jessie is a single mother of two who works the day shift as a waitress at a restaurant while her boys are in school. With the COVID-19 pandemic, everything in Jessie’s world has changed. Her boys are now out of school for the foreseeable future requiring Jessie to be home during the day.

Jessie was laid off when the restaurant where she worked had to close the dining room and serve only takeout orders to comply with social distancing requirements.

Like so many others, she worried about how she would pay her rent, buy food and take care of her sons. With no idea of what to do next, she called 211 for help.

The call specialist provided multiple referrals, including information on how to apply for unemployment.

The call specialist also reassured Jessie that for now, she and her boys cannot be evicted, even if she is unable to pay her rent. She was encouraged to reach out to her landlord to see if they can work together on a plan. 

Jessie also received information on where she could find lunch for her family every day while school is out and a referral to a food pantry to help with dinners.

NC 211 call specialists receive similar calls every day.

In Catawba County, the top calls since March 18 have been about housing/shelter (59), food (59), COVID-19 (40) and employment (34).

Remember, to learn about community resources near you, call 2-1-1 or visit nc211.org. Because of the current level of need, be patient when you call. For additional resources visit ccunitedway.com.

 

April 13, 2020

Adult Life Programs Executive Director Mark Bumgarner with staff member Marilyn Mitchel prepare to transport a Catawba Valley Medical Center patient home. It’s one of several way’s Adult Life is using its staff and resources to help other local non-profits and public agencies during the COVID-19 crisis. 

 

Non-profits stand together through COVID-19, keep serving those in need

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccuniteway.com

I grew up on classic TV western shows – John Wayne was king in my house – so I’m familiar with the idea of circling the wagons when there’s trouble.

COVID-19 has grown from a news blip in China, to images of field hospitals going up in New York City’s Central Park, on its way to becoming the biggest source of concern this country has seen in a long time.

My position in community impact at the Catawba County United Way (CCUW) has allowed me to watch as local non-profits decided to circle their wagons and share resources in response to the current crisis.

“The day we closed (March 18) I started reaching out,” Executive Director of Adult Life Programs Mark Bumgarner said. “I knew I wanted to keep my employees paid, and I knew I needed things for them to do. My employees did not want to sit home – they wanted to help. It was an easy decision for us.”

Just a couple of ways the 30 Adult Life employees have volunteered their time includes helping at the Hickory Soup Kitchen to prepare meals and working in Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry’s (ECCCM) food warehouse. Both agencies are CCUW funded partners.

This sharing of resources – this standing shoulder to shoulder to make sure the job gets done – has been humbling to observe.

Kristal Manning, ECCCM assistant director, said volunteers play an integral role in the daily operation of their ministry. It’s become even more important during the outbreak.

“COVID-19 has reduced our volunteer help because most of our volunteers are retired and fall into the critical group that needs to stay at home,” Manning said. “When Mark called asking if we needed help it was a true blessing.”

The Catawba County United Way recently helped continue this discussion, inviting its 2020 funded partners to a video conference – the new norm for many of us – where they could share updates, resources and concerns related to the outbreak.

ALFA is still offering medical services and distributing syringes. Senior Nutrition Services modified its services but is still providing meals to its clients. The Council on Adolescents is working with the school systems to get its health programs on their digital platforms.

Family Guidance Center is utilizing remote video systems to host group sessions with clients and for individual counseling sessions. Exodus Homes is using online sales through Facebook to sell items from its thrift store to keep funds coming into the agency.

Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry continues to provide food assistance through its pantry.

The Red Cross will keep its disaster action teams active and prepared to respond to emergencies. Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center is looking to provide tutoring through online conferencing. The Salvation Army continues to provide case management.

Jamie Brown, Sipe’s Orchard Home executive director said he heard about a need from another non-profit and was able to connect them to his church for help.

Director of Catawba County Social Services Karen Harrington said she isn’t surprised by this collaboration.

“Through our work at Social Services, we have seen how more and more residents are benefitting from the efforts of our community’s many local nonprofit and faith-based partners,” Harrington said. “We are grateful for their continued efforts to help each other and our residents.”

So, any time I start to feel a bit uninspired about having to spend another day sitting in my kitchen working remotely. I now remind myself of all those staff and volunteers who keep hitting the ground running every morning, trying to find any way they can to make a difference.

If you’d like to help support these and other community partners during this crisis, consider making a donation to the Catawba County United Way COVID-19 Response Fund. Visit, http://www.ccunitedway.com/Covid-19-Emergency-Fund-donations.

To learn about other COVID-19 related resources call 2-1-1 or visit nc211.org.

 

April 1, 2020

Local and national resources related to COVID-19 

The United Way will update this information as we learn more. Please share any information from your agency with us as well. We hope everyone is staying safe.

Remember, to view accurate information concerning COVID-19 visit nc211.org - The United Way's community service resource help line and website.

HELP WITH CHILD CARE - Effective April 1

Parents/caregivers who are essential workers and need financial assistance for child care can complete a COVID-19 Parent Application for Financial Assistance for Emergency Child Care form. Families should submit the application to their child care center. Click on the link to print out the application.

Qualifications: If you are an essential worker responding to the COVID-19 crisis, you have an emergency child care need and no other child care options AND you have a household income below the allowed limit (Below $78,600 for a family of 4).

Application: https://ncchildcare.ncdhhs.gov/…/COVID-19_Parent_Applicatio…

If essential workers need help finding child care, please call the Urgent Child Care line at 1-888-600-1685.

BUSINESS/EMPLOYMENT RESOURCES

1. The U.S. Small Business Administration has granted a disaster declaration covering all North Carolina counties, allowing affected small businesses and non-profits as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to apply for low interest SBA disaster loans. The interest rates are 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofit organization with terms up to 30 years. Visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or

www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

2. The North Carolina COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Lending program supports North Carolina small businesses and family farms as they recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. This rapid recovery loan helps small businesses bridge the gap between when crisis strikes and when federal loans, insurance payouts, and other relief funds are approved, or businesses have time to recover. Visit: https://ncrapidrecovery.org/

3. The North Carolina Employment Security Division is publishing instructions and guidance on the following link to help you understand new changes to the state’s unemployment system, due to the current impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus in North Carolina.

Visit: https://des.nc.gov/need-help/covid-19-information

4. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a foreclosure and eviction moratorium Wednesday for single-family homeowners for the next 60 days if they have Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages.

https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_042

5. The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition will lead recurring national calls on Coronavirus and Homelessness/Housing every Monday at 2:30 p.m. ET until Congress includes housing and homelessness resources in the COVID-19 stimulus package.

https://nlihc.org/coronavirus-and-housing-homelessness

RECENT STATE GOVERNMENT UPDATES:

Tuesday, March 31

Governor Roy Cooper today announced another step to help families by prohibiting utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during this pandemic. Today’s Order applies to electric, gas, water and wastewater services for the next 60 days. 

The Order directs utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment.

Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules. To readh the rest of the press release visit: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/governor-cooper-signs-executive-order-prohibit-utility-disconnections-wake-covid

Monday, March 24

-Governor Roy Cooper ordered tighter limits on gatherings and extended school closures statewide to May 15, 2020.

The governor directed $50 million in school funding flexibility to help public schools and support the greatest needs to serve students during the COVID-19 crisis. Governor Cooper has ordered North Carolina public schools to remain closed to in-class instruction through May 15. 

The State Board of Education (SBE) and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will establish a new $50 million flexible allotment for public school units to address COVID-19-related expenses.This allotment is comprised of unused funds from the current and previous school years as well as the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund. 

The executive order also closed some businesses that require close social interaction and limited visitors to long-term care centers including: Bingo Parlors, including Bingo sites operated by charitable organizations,Bowling Alleys, Indoor Exercise Facilities (e.g. gyms, yoga studios, martial arts facilities, indoor trampoline and rock-climbing facilities), Health Clubs, Indoor Pools, Live Performance Venues, Movie Theaters, Skating Rinks, Spas, Sweepstakes Lounges, Video game arcades, Barber Shops, Beauty Salons (including waxing and hair removal centers), Hair Salons, Nail Salons/Manicure/Pedicure Providers, Massage Parlors, Tattoo Parlors.

Grocery stores and restaurants providing takeout and delivery will remain open.

-Medicaid is temporarily modifying its Telemedicine and Telepsychiatry Clinical Coverage Policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition to telephone conversations and secure electronic messaging, the modifications will include the use of two-way real-time interactive audio and video to provide and support physical and behavioral health care when participants are in different physical locations. 

For more information visit: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/nc-medicaid-increasing-eligible-technology-and-provider-types-telemedicine

-Governor Roy Cooper has waived restrictions to increase access to caregivers to provide flexible child care and elder care during the coronavirus emergency. The Order provides flexibility to local health departments working to adapt to the increased need for their resources. Additionally, it provides for ways for Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices to enact social distancing protections, and waives some registration requirements to ensure resources can be delivered by truck throughout the state.

For more information visit: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/governor-cooper-orders-increased-access-childcare-dmv-clarifications

NCWORKS CAREER CENTER: Based on an abundance of caution for the health and wellbeing of their customers and staff, the NCWorks Career Center will be closed to the public beginning March 18. The agency will continue to provide services to its valued customers virtually by phone and email. You may continue to access NCWorks on-line at www.ncworks.gov, or contact the Career Center at 828-466-5535 to receive staff assisted services with your employment search.

Food Services

SHERRILLS FORD COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY AND CLOTHES CLOSET: Offers a food pantry and clothes closet. Call before stopping by to check on available services. Phone: 828-478-9652

www.facebook.com/The-Christian-Food-Pantry-of-Sherrills-Ford-Clothes-Closet-1635990860002567/

NEIGHBORS NETWORK - YOUR NEIGHBORS PANTRY: Offers a food pantry and other services for seniors. Call before stopping by to check on available services. Phone 828-464-1111

Website: www.neighborsnetwork.org - Email: dianna@neighborsnetwork.org

HIGHWAYS AND HEDGES MINISTRY: Description: Offers dinner with message and free groceries or personal and household items. Offers a clothes closet and indoor yard sale. Delivers groceries, personal and household items to people without transportation. Helps with utilities, rent and other bills. Delivers free furniture and appliances. Call before stopping by to check on available services.

Phone: 828-781-8095 - Website: www.facebook.com/highwaysandhedgesnc/

HICKORY SOUP KITCHEN: The hours of service will change to 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in an effort to allow sufficient time for meals to be distributed in the most efficient manner, the dining room will be closed and instead take-out meals will be served. The pantry remains stocked and ready to serve those in need of groceries. Showers will remain available to guests from 8 - 9 a.m. Visit hickorysoupkitchen.org for more information.

THE CORNER TABLE SOUP KITCHEN – NEWTON: The following actions were placed in effect for March 16 – March 31. Lunch will be served to guests via a to-go-meal from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday- Friday on our back porch. Guests will not be allowed in the facility for any reason. This includes restrooms. Friday to-go-bags will be provided as usual. Scheduled Saturday bag lunches will remain on the calendar. The Food Service Manager will be preparing additional frozen meals due  to an increase in demand, limited to Two (2) Meals per day, per person. Churches who distribute frozen meals will still be allowed to pick up mass quantities as normal.

BACKPACK PROGRAM: Catawba County Schools: Sixteen feeding sites will be available for students starting Wednesday, March 18. Backpacks will be delivered to each school before Thursday, March 19 Backpacks will be distributed to students who come into pickup Work Packs. Any students who cannot pick up work packs/backpacks on Thursday will have them delivered to their homes on Friday, March 20.
Hickory Public Schools: Feeding sites will also be available at Longview and Viewmont starting Tuesday, March 17. Volunteers are picking up bags on Thursday, March 19 for all Hickory schools (2-3 per participating family). Bags will be delivered to schools before feeding time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Newton-Conover City Schools: Backpack bags will be delivered to students’ door to door via buses. Any families that cannot make it to a feeding site are asked to notify their counselor who in return will notify the Backpack Program Coordinator. For information visit: 
http://www.thecornertable.org/backpack-program-food-for-students

EASTERN CATAWBA COOPERATIVE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY: The agency plans to maintain all operations during this virus outbreak. Those visiting ECCCM will be directed to follow established protocols of social distancing, only one member per household admitted and no children will be allowed in the building. As dedicated workers in our community either lose working hours or are laid off from their jobs, affected persons can apply for emergency financial assistance.

The ECCCM Charlie Bunn Food Pantry is well-situated for additional demands for hunger relief, with adequate supplies of commodities.

As schools close, and children lose access to school breakfasts and lunches, the ECCCM Student Hunger Prevention Program provides adequate supplies of food for the entire household for one year. Families with children in either Newton-Conover City Schools or Catawba County Schools can apply here.

Already, good people within our community have demonstrated concern for our neighbors by donating food and financial resources. We invite those who are able to support ECCCM’s work in our community to drop off donations Monday - Thursday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. or Fridays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For information visit: https://www.ecccm.org/

THE SALVATION ARMY: We are changing our intake policy for our shelter - we are halting all intake as of today and not allowing anyone new to enter our shelter. We are allowing those already in the shelter to stay but we are monitoring their health conditions on a daily basis by taking temperatures at intake and being proactive with health and sanitary procedures as outlines by the Health Department and other government agencies.  Anyone that we feel may be infected will be immediately isolated and the proper personnel will be notified so that the Health Department can take over and do what needs to be done with the client and those that may be infected as well - keep in mind that this procedure may change depending on the progression or severity of the situation

At this time we are feeding un-sheltered people who come to the shelter for meals "to go" meals through the back door in clam-shell dishes and they will eat elsewhere. 

MEALS ON WHEELS/SENIORS MORNING OUT: Starting Monday, March 16, Catawba County Meals on Wheels clients will receive five frozen meals every Monday and check-in phone calls every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. New referrals to the program are being placed on a waiting list until regular operations resume. This schedule will remain in operation until further notice. As previously announced, Catawba County Senior Nutrition Services is temporarily closing all Catawba County Seniors Morning Out (SMO) sites effective Monday, March 16. During this time, all SMO participants will still have the ability to receive meals and will receive daily phone calls from Senior Nutrition Services staff.

OTHER FOOD LINKS FOR CHILDREN: Resources for free meals for all students and some even ages 1-18 in each county and school system in our area.

Hickory Public Schools:

http://www.hickoryschools.net/departments/communications/what_s_new__/c_h_i_l_d_n_u_t_r_i_t_i_o_n__meals_for_students__c

Catawba County Schools: (includes information on some restaurants in Catawba County)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16AfaTR_qk0F1XuWMNd039R1mfk3sWRFw/view

Newton Conover City Schools:

https://www.newton-conover.org/apps/news/article/1187669

Burke County Schools:

https://www.burke.k12.nc.us/about_us/recent_news/b_c_p_s_feeds_students_during_school_closure

Iredell-Statesville Schools:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScUCq9vIk4E4ofKdJugeTpRb-Z6VPZCXf4wpPN3lQ2W0humrw/viewform

Caldwell County Schools:

https://www.caldwellschools.com/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=8&ModuleInstanceID=18275&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=45945&PageID=9

Health Services

FAMILY CARE CENTER: To try and do what we can to limit the impact of this virus, Family Care Center will close our doors to the public at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 19 until further notice. Applicants to our program may access the application outside our front door but there will be no client interaction or face to face meetings. We will be in touch with our current guests via phone and email. For information visit: familycare-center.org.

ADULT LIFE PROGRAMS: After careful (and sometimes agonizing) consideration, consultation with NC Department of Health and Human Services, Catawba County Health Department and other officials I have made the decision to close Adult Life Programs from March 19-30, 2020 due to the COVID 19 outbreak. We plan to open March 30 conditions permitting. For information visit: https://www.adultlifeprograms.com/central-office

LIFE HOUSE: The Life House has amended hours 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday - Friday. No more than 10 people (elderly and disabled) allowed inside with very limited seating. Outside property and seating is available and all services and request are being delivered through walk up window. The agency has a mobile van unit prepared that will be available and is stocked with needs for the community. 

SAFE HARBOR: The agency has suspended all classes, support groups and events through the end of March, then we will reassess the situation. We have also asked all volunteers to stay home. Right now, the Day Center remains open, but we are taking it day by day. Things are subject to change. For information visit: safeharbornc.org.

AMERICAN RED CROSS:  At this moment the agency’s most pressing concern is the blood supply. The Red Cross accounts for 40 percent of the nation's blood supply and we collect more than 80 percent of that blood is collected at offsite drives including at schools, churches and businesses.               

Over the last few days, the Red Cross has seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate. Through March 13, about 1,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 46,000 fewer blood donations. We expect that number to rise. In our region alone, we have lost over 60 drives which equals approximately 1,800 units.

Donating blood is safe. Receiving blood is safe. If this trend continues, we may experience another national health emergency on top of the virus. For more information visit: cdc.gov/covid19.

EXODUS HOMES: The is operating as usual but may suspend new admissions in the days to come. Residents have been advised to keep six feet of space between them whenever possible. Exodus Church held services last week, but they are not sure about this Sunday. For information visit: http://www.exodushomes.com/

PARTNERS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH MANGAMENT: Partners only has pertinent staff at its offices. The agency is continuing to work but through remote locations.  All functions of Partners are still operational. The ACCESS to care number for individuals to access services and crisis services is still available 24/7. You can reach any Partners staff through phone and/or email. The agency has looking for cleaning supplies for clients. If anyone has any ideas to help, contact Teena Willis at Partners. For information visit: https://www.partnersbhm.org/

FAMILY GUIDANCE CENTER: The agency is rescheduling its clients until April 1st. The staff is currently at the office (for now) available for crisis clients via phone conference or tele-conference. For information visit: https://www.fgcservices.com/

COUNCIL ON AGING: The Catawba County Council on Aging/West Hickory Senior is closed effective March 17 until further notice. For information visit: https://www.catawbacoa.org/

WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER:

-We have paused our front desk Resource & Referral Volunteer program, in order to protect our elderly and immune compromised volunteers and reduce the number of persons in the building at any time. Staff will still be available to help with any questions, concerns or needs.

- If you are in need of Resources please call us prior to coming in. If you are in a high-risk category for COVID-19, we will work with you over the phone and offer curbside pick-up printed information and Pantry with a Purpose products.

- We ask that non-essential groups consider pausing their meetings or utilize virtual meeting tools such as Skype, Google Hangout, or Join.me or in order to maintain social distancing. Currently, this does NOT include groups vital to the mental or emotional well-being of our community, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or All Recovery.

- We will be cleaning our meeting room after each meeting during the week. We ask that any groups that meet in the evenings or weekends take advantage of the cleaning products provided to wipe down ‘high-touch’ areas, such as plastic chairs and door handles. We will not be providing self-serve snacks during this time. Additionally, we have reduced seating in our meeting room to provide more personal space between guests. For information visit: https://www.wrchickory.org/

ALFA (Aids Leadership Foothills Area Alliance): As part of ALFA's efforts to minimize the spread of the COVID 19 virus to staff and clients, the agency is limiting services from March 17 - March 29.

Staff will still be available via phone or email, but offices will be closed to foot traffic.

Client Services:
- Services will be provided via phone or mail delivery whenever possible.
- In office services will be by appointment only.
- Deliveries of pantry products or medication may be possible depending on resources.

PrEP/HepC Services:
- Services will be provided via phone or mail delivery whenever possible.
- In office services will be by appointment only.

PEP: Call Jess at 828-322-1447 x 226

Harm Reduction:
- Supplies will be available at Steve's Place on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
- Big Red van will be at Wilkes location for supply distribution Tuesday, March 17 from

8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

- Two months supplies will continue to be distributed.
- Distribution will be canceled beginning Wednesday, March 18.
- Call or text 828-999-0055

Testing/Outreach: services will be suspended for 2 weeks.

For information visit: http://www.alfainfo.org/

OLIVE BRANCH MINISTRY is prepared to continue its harm reduction services to those in need under our normal operating guidelines, maintaining regular office hours in each of its locations. The agency will continue to provide mobile exchange as requested to clients who have transportation barriers. For HepC rapid and confirmation testing and treatment, the agency will continue to provide these services by appointment at the Hickory location or in individual homes, if needed. If anyone is in need of syringe access, Naloxone or HepC testing, please let them know. For information visit: www.olivebranchministry.org 

NORTH CAROLINA BAPTIST AGING MINISTRY (NCBAM) is available for those who may need someone to talk to during this period of isolation. The phone number is 866-758-4673. Please share as appropriate.

Education services

PATRICK BEAVER LEARNING RESOURCE CENTER: Because the agency’s volunteers tutor in schools, it has had to cancel all tutoring until schools resume. Additionally, program such as the parent engagement/family literacy nights (LIFT) and the follow up meeting to the Orton-Gillingham Teacher Training have had to be cancelled due to numbers over 50 and school closings. The agency hopes to post resources all families can use to help students with reading on its Facebook page and/or website. 

PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILDREN: The agency has closed its office to visitors through the next two weeks.  All events, trainings, meetings have been canceled. All school-housed NCPK classrooms are closed, but the three in private settings (Tyndall, A New Beginning and Sherrills Ford Learning Academy 1) remain open for the time being. There is a place for families to turn in NCPK applications in the vestibule of the agency’s main building. For information visit: catawbakids.com.

COUNCIL ON ADOLESCENTS - The Lunch Buddy program: Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order over the weekend to close all NC public schools until at least March 30. The Lunch Buddy program has suspended all activities/meetings until at least April 6. For information: https://coacatawba.org/

OPERATION HOPE: Operation HOPE Inside office at First Horizon will be operating via email, tele-conference, or phone for the next two weeks. The agency helps clients with budgeting and credit management thru this crisis. For information visit: www.operationhope.org 

Government Resources Updates

CATAWBA COUNTY GOVERNMENT  – as of March 17:
-Library System: Effective at close of business Tuesday, March 17, all Catawba County locations will be closed until further notice. Due dates and book holds will be automatically extended and no late fees will be accrued. Citizens are encouraged to take advantage of the many digital services available through the website at 
www.catawbacountync.gov/library.

-Parks (Bakers Mountain, Riverbend and St. Stephens): All Catawba County Parks remain open following usual operating hours. Effective Tuesday, March 17, all rentals and group use of Catawba County Parks education facilities and picnic shelters have been suspended until further notice.

-Sheriff’s Office: Effective Tuesday, March 17, the Sheriff’s Office Gun Permits Division will only be processing purchase permits and carry conceal renewals for the next two weeks. For more information, call (828) 464-5241.

-Veterans Services: Effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, the Veterans Services office will be suspending in-person appointments and will be conducting all appointments by phone. Veterans requesting appointments may call the Veterans Services Office at (828) 465-8255 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. for assistance.

Other event and program postponements

Catawba County Mobile Free Pharmacy - Due to numerous factors with the timing of this event, we have decided to postpone the Catawba County Mobile Free Pharmacy event scheduled for April 24. We will work with our sponsor to reschedule this event.  We hope to have a new date soon and I will keep you all posted on those details.  We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you all for your commitment and time invested thus far. Reach out with any questions at 704-350-3597.

Veterans Stand Down - The decision was made to postpone the Stand Down due to trying to reduce the spread of the COVID- 19 virus and on suggestion of the Governor of NC not to have gatherings of more than 100 people. Our Stand Down well exceeds that. The health and wellbeing of our veterans, volunteers and agency representatives is very important to us and we appreciate your understanding. For those agencies registered to participate in the event, emails will be sent when a new date has been decided and to gage your interest and availability. 

March 3, 2020

The Catawba County United Way recently recognized its new board members during the 2020 Board Advance hosted by CVCC in its new Workforce Solutions Complex. Pictured from left: Cassia Dowdy from Design Foundry, Kristy Hedrick from CT Management, Madeline Finley from Klingspor and Marshall Deal from Wesley Hall Furniture. New board members not pictured: Karen Harrington from Catawba Co. Department of Social Services and Javier Chavez from Chavez Enterprises. Photo courtesy of Catawba County United Way

 

United Way board ready to tackle community problems

 

By JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

It was a day of planning ahead by remembering what it means to make every day count.

This was the theme of the 2020 Catawba County United Way (CCUW) Board Advance. The annual meeting was recently hosted by Catawba Valley Community College at the school's new Workforce Solutions Complex.

The day and the theme were dedicated to Mark Story the Chief Executive Officer for K-65, who passed away earlier in February.

Story had originally met with the United Way to discuss holding the board retreat at CVCC and was excited to introduce the new Workforce Solutions Complex to board members along with sharing the impact of K-64. 

“You see, he lived his life in the moment for family, faith and community,” CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said during the Board Advance. “It is within this spirit of embracing the moment and making it count that we hope everyone will leave here today, feeling informed and ready to look for opportunities to enhance the quality of life of those in need.”

To build on this theme, the board heard from local leaders in the United Way’s three focus areas: health, income and education.

Speaking on the education panel were Chief Court Counselor Ronn Abernathy, Hickory Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robbie Adell, Newton-Conover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Aron Gabriel and Catawba County Schools Assistant Superintendent Chris Gibbs.

They touched on issues related to juvenile justice, the need for additional funding for classrooms and meeting basic needs of families to ensure their children can succeed at school.

Speaking on the income panel was Teena Willis from Partners Behavioral Health. Among the issues she talked about was the need for more affordable housing in the county.

Speaking on the income panel were Gail Henson from Catawba Valley Mental Health and Jennifer McCracken from Public Health. They talked about issues related to chronic disease, healthy foods/healthy weight, behavioral health/substance misuse and housing and transportation.

This year’s CCUW Board of Directors officers include: President, Dr. Keith Mackie from Catawba Valley Community College; Vice President, Amy Guyer from RHF/Century Furniture; Treasurer, Patrick Underdown from HSM; Campaign Chair, Eddie Beard from Catawba Valley Health System and Campaign Vice Chair, Johann Lochez from Truist Financial (BB&T).

New CCUW board members were also recognized: Madeline Finley from Klingspor, Kristy Hedrick from CT Management, Karen Harrington from Catawba Co. Department of Social Services, Javier Chavez from Chavez Enterprises, Marshall Deal from Wesley Hall Furniture and Cassia Dowdy from Design Foundry.

Lunch was provided by Western Steer.

The mission of the Catawba County United Way is to increase the organized capacity of people to help others by mobilizing the power of our community.

To learn more about the CCUW or to find ways of becoming more involved in helping those in need in Catawba County, visit ccunitedway.com, the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page or call 828-327-6851.

 

February 24, 2020

Annie Fallin (left) looks forward to every visit from Meals on Wheels volunteers. She especially enjoys seeing Home  Delivered  Meals Coordinator Debbie Helton, who is always sharing information about other agencies and programs                in the community that might help Fallin. Photo courtesy of Catawba County United Way.

 

Meals on Wheels brings food and fellowship, but needs more drivers

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

Being in a wheelchair hasn’t slowed Annie Fallin much.

The 76-year-old, also known as “Wheezy” among her friends, still creates stories to share with her grandkids and enjoys sharing time with her neighbors.

And every morning, Monday – Wednesday, she races down the hall at her retirement complex to meet the Meals on Wheels volunteer. Fallin is just one of almost 300 local seniors who look forward to that knock on the door.

Meals on Wheels is run through the Catawba County DSS Senior Nutrition Services and is also a Catawba County United Way (CCUW) funded program. For the CCUW, supporting a program like Meals on Wheels is a natural fit in its impact area of health, specifically healthy lifestyles for seniors.

In 2019, according to their end of year report to the United Way, Senior Nutrition Services served 1,187 seniors between its Meals on Wheels and Seniors Morning out programs which included 114,396 meals.

“When you realize that you’ve got a meal coming in you don’t sit and worry about what you’re going to do for lunch,” Fallin said. “It’s a blessing.”

The impact of the program is about more than a meal though. It’s about having a day you don’t spend alone, which is why Meals on Wheels is always in need of new volunteers to add to the number of seniors the program can serve. In Catawba County, there is an increasing need in the Maiden area.

“My chair allows me to get around pretty good, but there are some people I imagine that those volunteers are about the only visitors they get,” Fallin said. “If somebody wanted to give back to their community, Meals on Wheels is a very good way to do that. It’s got the Wheezy stamp of approval. It’s a good way to donate your time.”

She’s constantly telling everyone she can, to sign up for the program. Being a Meals on Wheels participant allowed Fallin to learn about other opportunities in the community. She’s been taking advantage of Greenway Public Transportation to help get out more and make trips to local stores.

“If you can’t get out anymore, you can’t drive anymore by all means take advantage of the services out there,” she said. “That’s why they’re there, to make our lives better.”

If you’d like to be a Meals on Wheels volunteer visit https://www.catawbacountync.gov/county-services/social-services/senior-nutrition-services/volunteer/ to fill out an application and learn more about the program.

 

Feb. 11, 2020



Help is just a call away with 2-1-1

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

 

Stepping into a NC 2-1-1 call center is like stepping into a whirlwind.

On one side of the room, a call specialist is trying to help someone find a way to pay their rent. Just a few feet away, a family is trying to find a way to get back home to another state, and in the adjacent cubicle an individual wants information on local food pantries.

NC 2-1-1 is the health and human services information line provided by United Way of North Carolina. Catawba County United Way is one of several community partners who help fund this program.

In 2019, the NC 2-1-1 team handled 133,949, averaging around 400-450 calls a day. The program launched texting as another channel of communication during Hurricanes Florence and Dorian and are working to add a text option for regular daily 211 service. 

In Catawba County, the greatest number of calls last year were concerned with housing and shelter (530) and help with utility bills (184) out of a total of 1,350 calls.

This week the United Way is celebrating 2-1-1 and the work it does every day to connect those in need with resources in their communities.

Call specialist Jeffrey is one of those voices people hear when they make this call, looking for assistance. He’s been with 2-1-1 for nearly a year.

His journey to the call center began in 2018, when he got to experience Hurricane Florence in Fayetteville first-hand.

It was his birthday and he went to the city to visit a former college professor. Then the storm hit.

His professor was a pastor as well and ran a local shelter. He asked Jeffrey if he wanted to help set up sandbags to protect the site from flooding.

“I’ve always enjoyed being able to help others, so I was happy to do whatever I could,” Jeffrey said.

When he got back home, Jeffrey started thinking about finding a more permanent way to help others and that’s when he heard NC 2-1-1 was hiring call specialists. He was working as a legal assistant at the time but decided to apply for the job.

“I love this program,” Jeffrey said. “For me it’s about trying to make someone’s day better, providing them a resource, giving them some hope.

“Sometimes people are just upset because they’ve called twenty other people and haven’t found any help.”

It’s important for local agencies, big and small, to add their information to the 2-1-1 database if they want a chance to help as many people as possible.

“Agencies need to be as specific as possible when describing what they do, who their target audience is they’re helping, areas they want to serve, all their services offered and any requirements,” Jeffrey said. “You never know when your program will be the difference for someone facing a crisis.”

Agencies can submit their information for the database on the ‘Agency Professionals” section of nc211.org. 

Visit nc211.org for more information or remember to call 2-1-1 for help.

 

 

Jan. 31, 2020


Counting our blessings, and ready to help


BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

(The following is commentary based off recently helping at the 2020 Point in Time Count.)


Willing and Able to Help…that’s what I hope I am every day I go to work at the Catawba County United Way.

At any given moment, I can get a call from someone who is facing eviction, a medical crisis, abuse or is just looking for a meal. We do the best we can to steer people to local programs to meet their needs.

Usually, this is always done over the phone. I’m trying to connect one voice with another. The CCUW currently helps fund 22 non-profit programs in the county, but we work with so many more.

On Jan. 30, I volunteered to help with the annual Point in Time (PIT) homeless count. It’s organized every year by a group of local non-profits who make up the Housing Visions Continuum of Care. Besides data collected, the event identifies gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed.

This year I helped at The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton, and for a day the people I was hoping to help were standing right in front of me.

As I drove home at the end of the day, my mind was flooded with thoughts related to work and ticking off my weekly to-do list at home, generally feeling – like most of us – overwhelmed with my perceived daily stress.

Then, I was suddenly reminded how fortunate I was to have those things to worry about and a home to do that worrying in.

At the PIT, I met individuals who would be sleeping in their car, under a bridge, in the woods, behind a building. They were concerned with being warm that night, being safe for another day and finding someone who might be able to help.

While our objective during the PIT was the count, I took the time to ask about how they were doing, where they were from, what problems they were having and where they were getting help.

Then I provided them with information about 2-1-1, the United Way community service phone line. It’s a vast data base of local and state-wide agencies and programs providing help with everything from housing, to health care, to substance abuse services, to employment, to just about anything you can think of.

I don’t know if the help I provided made a difference, but I hope it showed someone cared at that moment.

If nothing else the PIT count reminded me how important it is to wake up every morning willing and able to help as much as I can.

More observations from my PIT experience on Jan. 30.

Along with The Corner Table, volunteers helped with counts at the Hickory Soup Kitchen and at The LIFEhouse in Hickory.

-Dissatisfaction with the lack of access to health care and affordable housing.

-For some a sense that no matter what they do, they just aren’t going to catch a break, resigning themselves to be a have not – “That’s just my luck.”

-For many there is a desire to make life better, find work, get a car, move into a home, but medical conditions limiting how long and what type of work inhibits these desires along with having a criminal record – despite doing their time.

-The Corner Table was a haven, not only for the homeless but for the working poor and anyone just looking for a way not to have to face the world alone. There was an appreciation for the meal, the friendly smiles, the camaraderie.

-One gentleman shared the news about finding work through the Census Bureau.

-Another woman planned out how she would reset herself financially by getting a similar job with the Census Bureau, then using that money to fix her car and then looking for another job. “You have to have a plan.”

The Housing Visions Continuum of Care group meets every second Thursday, 12 p.m. at the Catawba County United Way office in Hickory and is made up of local agencies concerned with meeting the needs those facing hunger and homelessness.

For more information contact the CCUW at 828-327-6851.


Jan. 22, 2020


Assistant Director at The Salvation Army's Shelter of Hope, David Pearsall, checks in with Keisha 

Singletary who was going through her third stay at the shelter last summer. Singletary successfully 

left the program this past fall, with a job, her own place and her own car. 


Non-profits encourage homeless not to give up

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way


HICKORY – In her mid-40s, Keisha Singletary decided she’d had enough of the lifestyle that had left her hooked on drugs, in an unhealthy relationship and incarcerated for six years.

“I wanted to know how it feels to be productive and to live sober and to be happy,” she said.

So, in March of 2019, Singletary decided to go back to The Salvation Army’s Shelter of Hope, a Catawba County United Way funded program. It would be her third time through the system.

Last year, 318 people were counted during the annual Point in Time (PIT) count of homeless individuals in Catawba County, according to Teena Willis, Housing Development Manager for Partners Behavioral Health Management. This includes those living in shelters and those living outdoors.

The Housing Visions Continuum of Care group is preparing to conduct this year’s PIT count on Jan. 30. Besides data collected, the event identifies gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed.

For Singletary, the barrier she faced her first two times – starting in 2015 – through these services was her attitude.

“I was playing around a lot when I first got to the shelter. I wasn’t being productive. I wasn’t looking for a job. I was very angry and stayed in trouble a lot,” she said.

The root of her anger had always been addiction, which eventually led her to a North Carolina prison cell in 2008.

“When I got out (in 2014), I was angry because I couldn’t get a job,” Singletary said. “I couldn’t get a place to stay, and I didn’t want to stay with my parents. I was angry because nobody would give me a chance.”

Assistant Shelter Director David Pearsall said this isn’t unusual for clients with a criminal background.

“It’s definitely one of the drawbacks, and it gets them down, but they just have to keep moving forward,” Pearsall said.

“They may not succeed the second time of even the third time, but if they keep trying, one of the time’s they’re going to succeed.”

In 2018, The Salvation Army Shelter of Hope served 580 clients with 39 percent able to move into housing, according to a United Way End-of-Year report for the program.

Singletary was determined to be a success story, but it wouldn’t be easy.

She would have to pull herself out of a bad second marriage and finally hit bottom as an addict.

It wasn’t until she got divorced that Singletary started to inch back towards a life of meaning.

At that point, she was done making wrong choices. Embracing her faith in God and moving into the shelter a third time was the only way she could see of breaking this downward cycle.

“I realized people aren’t going to help if you don’t help yourself,” Singletary said. “David and Carrie (Workman, Shelter Services Case Manager) saw what I was striving to be, who I wanted to become, and they believed in me and that encouraged me to believe in myself again.”

She went through this last trip at the Shelter of Hope with a focused mind. She worked the programs offered and met her first goal of getting a job. She found work at Goodwill. Singletary learned about the opportunity from Safe Harbor, another local non-profit who partners with the shelter. Safe Harbor provides programing to help women in transitional situations to find emotional help, housing and work.

This was a resource Singletary originally ignored.

“I wanted to get out and drink a beer and get high. I didn’t want to go to Safe Harbor when I was at the shelter the first two times,” Singletary said.

When Singletary eventually left the shelter in the fall of 2019, along with having a job, she was able to purchase a car and move into her own place, Workman said.

Once she decided to make the most of the opportunities the shelter and other local non-profit agencies offered her, Singletary found the life she’d always wanted.

“I don’t have an attitude anymore. I’m not angry anymore. I’m liberated, and people see that,” she said. “When you treat people with respect you get respect back. When you love people, they love you back.”

For more information on how to help with this year’s PIT homeless count or support the agencies involved, call the Catawba County United Way, 828-327-6851, or Partners Behavioral Health Management, 828-323-8084.


 

Jan. 14, 2020

Donations needed to help with homeless count


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


HICKORY – Last year, more than 9,319 calls were placed to the United Way’s 2-1-1 community help line asking for information about low-cost housing while more than 12,000 calls were made about shelters, according to nc.211counts.org.

In Catawba County those numbers were 164 and 111, respectively and again only represent calls to 2-1-1 and not the total need.

To help understand the scope of the issue in Catawba County, the Housing Visions Continuum of Care group is preparing to conduct the annual Point in Time (PIT) count of homeless individuals on Jan. 30. The purpose is to collect data that identifies gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed.

During the count process, homeless individuals and families are also provided with some much-needed items which are collected from the community.

These items include batteries, flashlights, combs/brushes, ponchos, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, sleeping bags, gloves, first aid kits/band-aids, backpacks (gently used or new), socks and toboggans/knitted caps.

Items need to be received by Jan. 24 and can be dropped off at the Catawba County United Way located at 2760 Tate Blvd. in Hickory, 828-327-6851, or at Partners Behavioral Health Management at 1985 Tate Blvd. SE in Hickory, 828-323-8084.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the PIT count for a community to be eligible for government funding used to address housing issues.

“The PIT count gives us an idea of what is going on in our community, what resources people are utilizing and where there are gaps,” Teena Willis, Housing Development Manager for Partners Behavioral Health Management said. “We’re also able to reach out to those that are homeless and may need services but don’t know where to go, how to access the services or even what is available to help them.” 

Last year, 318 individuals were counted in Catawba County, Willis said. This is up from 283 homeless individuals from the previous year. This year’s count will be held at the Hickory Soup Kitchen, The Life House in Hickory and The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton.

Tax deductible monetary donations to help with the PIT can be made to the Catawba County United Way. Include “homeless initiatives” in the memo section. One hundred percent of the donations go to the homeless initiatives through the Housing Visions Continuum of Care.

For more information contact Teena Willis at Partners Behavioral Health Management, twillis@partnersbhm.org, 828-323-8084 or Jennifer Clark at Family Care Center, jclark@familycare-center.org or call the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851.

LOCAL RESOURCES

Food Pantries

DSS Meals on Wheels:828-695-5610

Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry: 828-327-0979

Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministries: 828-465-1702

Good Samaritan Food Pantry – Mt. Pisgah Church: 828-495-8251

Crisis Pantry – Women’s Resource Center: 828-322-6333

Christian Community Outreach Ministries (by appointment only): 828-328-1803

Sherrills Ford Community Food Pantry and Clothes Closet: 828-478-9625 

Hot Meals

Salvation Army – Shelter of Hope, breakfast and dinner: 828-322-8061

Hickory Soup Kitchen: 828-327-4828

The Corner Table Soup Kitchen (Newton): 828-464-0355

Safe Harbor Rescue Mission (women and children only): 828-326-7233

Highways and Hedges Ministry:  twice monthly dinner meeting with a gospel message and distribution of free groceries or toiletries/cleaning supplies, 828-781-8095/highwaysandhedgesnc.com

Shelters

Salvation Army: 828-322-8061

Family Guidance Center (domestic violence shelter for women):  828-228-1787

Safe Harbor Rescue Mission (day only/women and children only): 828-326-7233

Exodus Homes (men or women exiting treatment programs or prison): 828-324-4870

Sipe’s Orchard Home (homeless teens): 828-256-5056

Affordable Housing

Western Piedmont Council of Governments (HUD Section 8): 828-322-9191

Family Care Center (families with children/emergency and transitional residential program): 828-324-9917 or fcchickory.org.

National Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-424-3838

City of Hickory Public Housing Authority: 828-328-5373

NC Housing Search: www.nchousingsearch.org

General Help Line: United Way, dial 2-1-1 or visit NC211.org


Jan. 6, 2020

Catawba County United Way accepts funding requests
 
The Catawba County United Way (CCUW) is accepting Notices of Intent to apply for funding for 2021.

This Notice of Intent is due on Monday, Feb. 3 by 5 p.m.

If your Notice of Intent is accepted, you’ll be asked to attend training to prepare you to fill out a pre-Request for Funding Proposal (pre-RFP) on Feb. 5 at 8:30 a.m.

Pre-Requests for funding are accepted through electronic submission to the CCUW website and requires individual, pre-assigned access log-in and password information. Please submit the requested Notice of Intent to be assigned the access information as a representative of your organization. Once assigned, your individual log-in/password will then be emailed to you.

Qualifying non-profits should target at least one of the three impact areas the United Way is focused on to address the needs of the residents of Catawba County: Health, Education and Income.

The area of Health is defined as safe and secure environments, healthy beginnings, healthy lifestyles and access to health care and prevention.

The area of Education is defined as school readiness, academic achievement, parental/guardian engagement and productive young adults. 

The area of Income is defined as family-sustaining education and employment, income supports, affordable housing and savings and manageable expenses.

Only organizations who are either incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax exempt entity or who have a 501-C3 legal status within Catawba County, who comply with applicable legal, federal state and local operating and reporting requirements (e.g. government approved accounting practices, annual audit, 990, nondiscrimination) should apply.

Also, those being considered must be operated by an active, responsible and voluntary governing body and adhere to a locally developed and adopted code of ethics for volunteers and staff, which include provisions for ethical management, publicity, fundraising practices and full and fair disclosure.

If you’re interested in completing a Notice of Intent form, fill out the online form at http://www.ccunitedway.com/Community-Partners/2020-Letter-of-Intent-Form or contact John Bailey at 828-327-6851 or by email at jbailey@ccunitedway.com.

Deadline for completion of the Pre-RFP is Wednesday, Feb. 12 by 5 p.m. Late applications will not be accepted.

Those organizations selected to complete final Requests for Funding will be notified. All grant amounts are contingent on funds raised. 


Dec. 23, 2019


Hickory Fire Department Deputy Chief Brian Murray helps another family with a bike during the 20198 Christmas Bureau. 

The HFD helped provide bikes for the event, purchasing nearly 400 this year. Photo by John Bailey/Catawba County United Way


Christmas Bureau brings hope to local families

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

NEWTON – As soon as Seleana Hoyle got home from this year’s Catawba County Christmas Bureau at the American Legion Fairgrounds, she started to write.

It was her first year going through the annual event, and she had to do something to share how she was feeling.

“I just can't even begin to explain what a relief it is to know that I can give my son an amazing Christmas with the help I received,” Hoyle said in an email. “I have to be honest that I don't have much faith in humanity sometimes, but it's in moments like this that my faith is restored.”

She is one of hundreds of families struggling financially in Catawba County who found hope through the annual Christmas Bureau this year.

Dozens of local businesses and non-profits along with more than 100 volunteers pooled their resources to provide toys, clothing and coats to children and teenagers during the Christmas season.

This year 580 families were helped, 27 more than in 2018. The effort benefited the lives of 1,521 individual children, which included 380 teens (ages 13-18) through the Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas, 100 more than in 2018.

Toys were gathered through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and from Toys for Tots, while the Hickory Soup Kitchen made sure every family received a Food Lion gift card. Coats were collected at local dry cleaners and other sites throughout the county.

It was this collaborative effort that inspired Hoyle to reach back out with an email to the Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, one of the Christmas Bureau partners, to thank everyone involved.

“You have all touched my heart, and I couldn't even begin to say thank you enough and show how much gratitude is owed to you all,” Hoyle said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Doug Rocque was feeling the same way after his day at the Christmas Bureau. It was his first time going through the process as well. Rocque and his wife Tina have two children.

“Our son has Down syndrome and is special needs, so it means a lot to us to be able come in here and have all of you helping us provide for our family this year," Rocque said. “It’s amazing how all the agencies come together and take up for the children.”

This is what makes Catawba County unique Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

“We have a tradition of non-profits working together, communicating and sharing resources year-round, not just during Christmas, to meet the needs of local families,” Connor said.

The 2019 Christmas Bureau partners included: American Legion Fairgrounds, Catawba County Sheriff's Dept., Catawba Co. Partnership for Children, Catawba Co. Dept. of Social Services, Catawba County United Way, Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas, Catawba County Schools, City of Hickory Fire Dept., City of Newton Fire Dept., Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Fire Dept. Assisting Bike Assembly, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Hickory Soup Kitchen, Hickory Public Schools, Marine Toys for Tots, Newton-Conover City Schools, The Salvation Army and Safe Kids Catawba County.

Catawba County Christmas Bureau sponsors included: A Signco, Century Furniture, Cosmo Motors, Hamrick Memorial Foundation, Hendrick Honda, Hickory Daily Record, Local Family Foundations, McDonalds, Newton Police Department, Participating in Toys for Tots Collection Sites, Patrick Beaver Foundation, Participating Dry Cleaners, Participating in Angle Tree Drive, Participating Local Churches, Pepsi-Cola Bottling, Shurtape Technologies LLC, Steve White Motors, WHKY and WNNC.

The Hickory Fire Department helped provide bikes for the event, and Deputy Chief Brian Murray said the department has been involved with the Christmas Bureau for twenty years.

After raising just over $20,000 for 2019, they purchased nearly 400 bicycles while tricycles were provided by Century Furniture.

"We had two mothers who broke down the first morning because they knew their children weren't going to get anything if it wasn’t for the Christmas Bureau, not just from us but from all the other agencies involved," Chief Murray said. "This event changes Christmas for those families who are struggling."

To learn more about the annual Christmas Bureau call the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851 or visit Facebook.com/catawbacountyunitedway.


Dec. 12, 2019


Paramount Automotive owner Benny Yount congratulates Danny Miller from Shurtape as this year's United Way 

Car Giveaway . JOHN BAILEY/CCUW

 

Paramount Automotive supports United Way campaign with car giveaway


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Congratulations to Danny Miller from Shurtape. He is this year's winner in Catawba County United Way’s Fair Share Donor Car Giveaway.

He won a brand new car from Paramount Automotive in Hickory. Thank You to all of our United Way donors. Your collective efforts help support more than 20 local programs that help provide hope to thousands of individuals and families in Catawba County when they need it the most.

Employees of companies participating in this year’s Catawba County United Way (CCUW) campaign who were Fair Share Donors, (1 hour pay per month) went into 10 drawings starting in September for a chance at being a finalist to win either a Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra or Volkswagen Jetta from Paramount Automotive.

The tradition was started when Benny Yount, owner of Paramount Automotive, decided he wanted a way to help support the annual Catawba County United Way campaign.

He knows the value of non-profits first-hand. During last year’s event, Yount shared the story of how the Salvation Army brought his family a box of food during Christmas and the impact that kindness had on him as a child.

“I read something the other day that there’s almost forty million people in this country who go hungry every night, and I doubt any of us in this room went to bed hungry,” Yount said at the 2018 event. “We got so much to be thankful for, and we’re thankful for the United Way and the many organizations they support and all the things those organizations do to help people.”

While there is the obvious excitement around giving away a brand-new car, the true highlight of this yearly event is the awareness it helps bring to the mission of the United Way.

The Catawba County United Way’s work is focused on the building blocks for a good life: education, income and health. In 2018, local agencies who received funding from the CCUW helped improve the lives of more than 35,000 people.

Donor gifts helped fund mentoring programs for at-risk youth, provided shelter for the homeless, provided crisis assistance counseling for families, provided sexual assault services, emergency and disaster services, breast health education, supported Meals on Wheels and provided education on sexually transmitted diseases and Hep C.

This year’s 10 finalists include: Samantha Owens from Shurtape Technologies, Amy Robinson from Vanguard, Robin Ferrell from Fiber-Line, Verna Tapp from Shurtape Technologies, Keith Rice from Vanguard, Danny Miller from Shurtape Technologies, Lisa Thompson from Catawba County DSS, Kimberly Hayes from Catawba County Schools, Minda Scronce from Century Furniture and Brian Hendrix from CertainTeed.

The drawings were done each week by Russell Isenhour, CPAs.

Last year’s winner was Conover School teacher Susan Estes.

The nine finalists who don’t win a car receive special gifts donated by local companies and individual families to help show their support of the United Way.

The vision of the Catawba County United Way is to be the most effective and efficient organization that identifies and prioritizes the greatest unmet human needs in the community and mobilizes local resources to meet those needs.

To make a donation or to learn more about the Catawba County United Way’s mission call 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com. Also visit the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page.

 

Dec. 3, 2019


2-1-1 opens doors for those in financial crisis


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


While most of us are focused on the holiday season of shopping for gifts and planning holiday meals, there are others who are facing a tougher financial reality.

Back in October, Rebecca was scared and frustrated.
She had always paid her own way in life, holding a steady job and managing her own household, but then she got sick.
Rebecca’s finances took a hard hit after missing several days of work and ended up not having enough money to pay her rent. She was quickly headed toward the possibility of being evicted. That’s when she called 2-1-1, the United Way’s free and confidential community resource information line. It connects callers and web visitors (nc211.org) to health and human services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long.
The North Carolina 2-1-1 call center shares impact stories with partner United Way agencies regularly and Rebecca’s is one of them.
She reached out to the United Way, looking for any organization in her community that could provide financial assistance.
This is an area of need the Catawba County United Way also targets locally. The CCUW helps fund the crisis financial assistance programs at The Salvation Army and Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry. The CCUW helps fund the crisis financial counseling programs at both agencies as well.
Along with these, the Catawba County United Way helps fund the Consumer Credit Counseling program at Family Guidance Center.
In 2018, these programs helped more than 13,500 individuals in Catawba County.
For Rebecca, the 2-1-1 call specialist she talked to was able to locate options in her own community. Rebecca called the agencies suggested to her and was able to receive the emergency funds she needed to pay her rent.
When the 2-1-1 call specialist called back to check in, Rebecca said her rent was paid in full, and she was no longer facing eviction.
If you or anyone you know ever finds themselves facing a similar crisis, remember, help is only a call away. Dial 2-1-1 and find the resources and hope you need to get back on your feet.

 

Nov. 26, 2019


United Way celebrates volunteers who give from the heart

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

Most non-profits in any community could not exist without their volunteers.

They’re the extra pair of hands, the additional perspective and the constant voice of affirmation telling everyone who’ll listen, the work of their agency is important to the lives of those in need.

Every year the Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center encourages local non-profits, not-for-profits, churches, individuals and local businesses to shine a light on some of their most impactful volunteers through the annual Giving from the Heart awards, held at the Catawba Country Club in Newton.

This year’s winners included: Individual Volunteer – Vickie Scott, nominated by Nu-Dimensions, Inc.; Group Volunteers – Pat Anderson and JoAnn Spees, nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center and Youth Volunteer – Joseph Hicks, nominated by Catawba County Backpack Program, Hickory Greenway Harvest and Cooperative Extension 4-H.

“I had people in my life who gave their time to me, so now I want to give back. It’s all I know to do, to give back” Scott said.

There was a total of 29 individuals nominated, eight groups and four youth nominated for their volunteer work.

The individual nominees included: Kirstin Abernethy – nominated by GHCCM, Rev. Greg Alms – nominated by Council on Adolescents, Patti Blaine – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Jill Brown – nominated by Safe Harbor, Dan Castilleja – nominated by Safe Harbor, Denise Clay – nominated by Alzheimer’s Association WCC, Jennifer Deal – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Ann Diener – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Terri Franco – nominated by Adult Life Programs, Kim Frankel – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Frances Garrard – nominated by Safe Harbor New Day NOW Program, Betty Gast – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Sharon Gilmore – nominated by Safe Harbor, Renetta Hamrick – nominated by Onyx Village, Dee Hartman – nominated by Catawba Science Center, Beth Hatley – nominated by Safe Harbor’s ReSource Warehouse, Thomas Hill – nominated by Joseph Hill Reach Back Tutorial Program, Dot Holdsclaw – nominated by ECCCM, Melanie Katz – nominated by GHCCM, Benny Lytton – nominated by Bandys High School Athletic Dept., Bobby McFarland – nominated by The Salvation Army Shelter of Hope, Kelly Mozgala – nominated by Council on Adolescents, Hani Nassar – nominated by United Arts Council of Catawba County, Tim Shuford – nominated by Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley, Brenda Teague – nominated by Connections/CVBH, Linda Thompson – nominated by GHCCM, Jeff Whisenant – nominated by Catawba Science Center and Alice Williams – nominated by Catawba Elementary Pre-K.

Group nominees included: 4-H Dairy Steer Project Committee – nominated by Catawba County 4-H, Design Foundry – nominated by Safe Harbor’s ReSource Warehouse, Ed and Melody Fidecaro – nominated by Catawba County Meals on Wheels, Linda and Dave Henson – nominated by Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center, LRU Kappa Delta Sorority – nominated by Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center, CVBH/Life Skills – nominated by Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare and Dirk Schoellner, Mitchell Cloud, Chris Hughes and Joe Kaminski – nominated by Catawba Science Center.

Youth nominees included: Dylan Hedrick – nominated by Safe Harbor’s ReSource Warehouse, Anna Kirby – nominated by The Corner Table Soup Kitchen and Brynne Van-Allsburg – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission.

The 2019 NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service Recipients included: Alex Fisher – Youth Group and Medallion Award winner, Paul Loftin – Individual Recipient and Augustine Literacy Project Tutors – Group Recipient.

This year’s guest speaker was Emily Elliott Gaffney, executive director of Heart Math Tutoring.

“Most people volunteer without recognition in mind, so the opportunity to shine a light on that and let other people see those working side-by-side to make a community a better place is really powerful,” Gaffney said.

Sponsors for 2019 included Premier Partners – Piedmont Natural Gas and PNC Bank, Gold Partner – First Security Insurance, Bronze Partner – Catawba Valley Health System. The invocation was by Rev. Robert Silber, ECCCM Executive Director. Music was provided by J.C. Epting, and WHKY Radio Host Hal Row was the emcee.

For more information about the Catawba County United Way or to see more photos visit ccunitedway.com or the CCUW Facebook page at facebook.com/catawbacountyunitedway/.



Nov. 12, 2019


Teen Christmas helps more than 300 this year

 

Each year The Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas makes sure local teens are not forgotten during the holiday season.

The program provides clothing and gifts to teens, ages 13-18, from low income families who have completed a need-based application process and qualified to receive Catawba County Christmas Bureau assistance. There are 350 teens registered this year, a hundred more than in 2018.

The program also serves teenagers who are homeless, displaced, pregnant or parenting, or without guardianship and referred by counselors in the three Catawba school systems. 

These teens have no parent to complete the application for them, and no parent to visit the Fair Grounds and collect their gifts. School personnel become their Christmas guardians completing the applications, providing information on clothing sizes, identifying needs and coming to the fairgrounds to collect then deliver the gifts.

Teen Christmas is done in conjunction with the annual Christmas Bureau, at which The Salvation Army provides the gifts for children age 0-12 through the Angel Tree and Red Kettle programs.

During the distribution at the Christmas Bureau, parents of  the teens select gifts and clothing plus either a gift basket which may be a hygiene, beauty, art or movie themed, or they select one other gift such as perfume, haircare items, headphones, bedspreads, art kits, or athletic equipment such as balls or fishing gear. The baskets are donated by members of the community each year. 

Donations are still needed to purchase more gifts and clothing.

If you’d like to help support Teen Christmas, make checks payable to Catawba County United Way and identify for Teen Christmas and mail them to the CCUW 2760 Tate Blvd. SE, Hickory, NC 28602, or Rose Arant at 37 River Pointe Drive, Hickory, NC 28601.

For more information call 828-327-6851.


 

Nov. 11, 2019


Christmas Bureau ensures families aren’t forgotten during the holidays

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

You never know how a simple act of kindness will affect someone or change a single life, but that’s not why we stop to help a stranger.

We help because we can and because we care.

These are powerful motivations, and they are what bring together community agencies and programs from across Catawba County every year to host the Christmas Bureau.

The event is scheduled for Dec. 16 and 17 and will be held at the American Legion Fairgrounds in Newton.

This collaborative effort is focused on letting local families in need know they are not alone. The Bureau pools its resources to provide toys, clothing and coats to children and teenagers during the Christmas season.

Last year the Bureau helped 500 families and 1,185 individual children. This year the impact is again significant with 570 families and more than 1,500 children registered.

Another part of the Christmas Bureau is the Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas. This program provides clothing and gifts to hundreds of teens, ages 13-18, from low income families who have completed a need-based application process and qualified to receive Catawba County Christmas Bureau assistance. 

Donations are still needed

The Salvation Army of Hickory is one of the agencies collecting items directly, using the Angel Trees. They can be found at all the area Walmart Super Stores and in Valley Hills Mall.

The Angel cards are available as well any time at The Salvation Army’s administration office – 750 Third Avenue Place SE in Hickory off Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard – and there are stockings available at the office to pick up, fill and bring back.

“The Salvation Army is proud to work with the great organizations that take part in the Christmas Bureau program,” Major Rebecca Trayler from The Salvation Army said. “By working together, it allows us all to do the most good, helping more people, with all of the resources that have been entrusted to each of us.”

Along with the toys and clothing, The Salvation Army also sponsors a coat drive for the Christmas Bureau.

The cleaners they use as drop-off points for the Coats for Kids drive are:

A Cleaner World - 1009 2nd St. NE in Hickory,

Highland Cleaning Center - 1031 16th St. NE in Hickory,

Kelley's Village Cleaners - 232 S. Main Ave. in Newton

Professional Cleaners - 133 3rd St. NW in Hickory,

Quality Cleaners & Laundry - 2643 NC-127 in Hickory,

Wyke's Cleaners - 1413 2nd St. NE in Hickory,

Wyke's Cleaners - Hwy 127 S in Hickory,

Modern Cleaners - 113 E B St. in Newton,

CV Cleaners - 508-1 10th St. NW in Conover.

There are drop-off spots as well at Valley Hills Mall in Hickory at local schools and at the Catawba County United Way office at 2760 Tate Blvd SE in Hickory.

For more information visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/hickory/ or call 828-322-8061. You can also call the Catawba County United Way’s office at 828-327-6851.

The local U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program collects for the Christmas Bureau and the Hickory Police Department’s Cops for Tots campaign as well.

For information about this program or to make a donation, visit https://hickory-nc.toysfortots.org/.

 

 

Oct. 28, 2019


Kit Gruelle was the guest speaker at Family Guidance Center’s recent First Step Domestic Violence Candlelight 

Vigil at Discovery Church in Hickory. She shared her experience of living in an abusive relationship. John Bailey/CCUW


Becoming advocates for victims of domestic violence


(NOTE: This is part of a weekly opinion series by John Bailey, CCUW Director of Community Impact, sharing reactions to recent UW related events and talking about the CCUW's impact in Catawba County.)


BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

One of the Catawba County United Way’s impact areas is Health and a key component of that is helping to create safe and secure environments.

It’s heartbreaking to think for some, home is the exact opposite of safe or secure.

“I hated him, and I loved him, and I was terrorized by him…”

These were the words of Kit Gruelle, the guest speaker at Family Guidance Center’s recent First Step Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil at Discovery Church in Hickory.

She was relating to the audience her years of living with an abusive husband. It ended when he died in an offshore accident in the Gulf of Mexico 40 years ago.

“But it’s still hard to talk about,” she said.

The last time Gruelle saw her husband the Sheriff’s Department was involved.

“He was in a rage, and I knew I had to take the boys and go,” she said. “Beyond that I knew one of us would have to go permanently. Now, with one phone call, that permanent fix I had hoped for had actually happened. Immediately, I felt light and free and heavy…it was emotional whiplash.”

Gruelle is now an educator, lecturer and victim advocate and the first to tell anyone, domestic violence is a complicated thing.

Family Guidance Center hosts this event every year to remind and inform the public about the devastation domestic violence leaves in its wake, not only to the families involved but the community that surrounds them. During the vigil, the agency’s Executive Director LaWanda Brown told those in attendance if, “we don’t care, who’s going to.”

Family Guidance offers individual and family counseling, sexual assault services and operates the First Step Domestic Violence Shelter. The United Way has been a supporter of these programs for years and believes in meeting the challenge of making sure victims of domestic violence have the tools they need to survive another day and reclaim their lives.

Gruelle’s life went from falling in love with a man she thought was the strongest person she ever met, to fearing what would happen if she didn’t wash all the salt off his peanuts before he ate them.

This is the life of anyone who is in a domestic violence situation, never knowing what might set off a violent reaction from your partner.

As I listened to her story, I reacted exactly how she said I would. I thought how ridiculous it was to get angry about salt on a peanut.

It didn’t make sense to me, and that’s the trap people on the outside of this issue usually fall into when they hear a domestic violence story. We all ask ourselves; how could this happen and why?

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence lists homicides from domestic violence every year at nccadv.org. The details are graphic, but the pattern that struck me was that there was no real pattern. The victims and the alleged perpetrators were women and men and their ages ranged from 7-months old to 73. They were from rural communities, small towns and larger cities and every socio-economic group.

These stories represent the worse cases you can imagine. During the Family Guidance vigil, Hal Row from WHKY read 53 names of 2018 domestic violence victims in North Carolina.

Each name was a reminder of why programs like the First Step Domestic Violence Shelter and Sexual Assault Services are so important.

And while understanding the “why” of domestic violence may never be easy, we can all show we do care by supporting agencies like Family Guidance through the United Way and making sure domestic violence victims and their families are not alone.

If you want to help, contact the United Way at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.

 

 

 

Oct. 1, 2019

United Way volunteers help those who help others

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way


No one had to show up last week, but more than 30 volunteers didn’t hesitate when the call went out for help.

For the last 75 years, the Catawba County United Way’s (CCUW) goal has been to increase the organized capacity of people to help others. Nothing better illustrates this than the CCUW’s annual Days of Caring.

United Ways across the country use this event to connect and educate the public about the nature and needs of non-profit agencies.

Last week in Catawba County, 35 volunteers stepped up to complete community service projects at five local agencies: Adult Life, Community Ridge Day Care, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Exodus Homes and The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.

“We don’t want to be an organization that sits back complaining about how things need to change in our area, we want to be a part of the change we want to see,” Le’Quan McCorkle said.

His group of volunteers from Vertical Socket Inc. – a mentoring program for teens – clean and wash passenger vans for Adult Life Programs. The agency provides a supportive environment for individuals who cannot be safely left at home alone during the day.

Mark Bumgarner, the Executive Director for Adult Life, said it would be nearly impossible to fulfill their missions without the help of volunteers.

"Getting all of our vehicles washed can be expensive, and if I don't have the budget for it, this certainly helps our bottom line," Bumgarner said.

He said it could cost up to $100 per passenger van if Adult Life had to pay to have the vehicles cleaned, and the agency had 11 washed by three different groups during this year’s Days of Caring.

For Chelsea Hicks with Carter Bank and Trust the United Way’s Days of Caring is all about being active in the community where you work.

She and three other co-workers helped with a painting project at Community Ridge Day Care in Hickory. The agency offers childcare subsidies for families in need.

“This is a way for these community agencies to get to know you, and if you ever needed their help, they could be there for you in the same we can be there for them,” Hicks said.

The 2018 Volunteering in America report, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (nationalsevices.gov), found that 77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2017. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value, according to the report.

Rev. Bob Silber, Executive Director for the Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry said volunteers have been an essential part of his agency’s operation for 50 years. His agency provides crisis financial assistance and counseling.

Publix in Hickory sent volunteers to help paint ECCCM’s lobby and halls.

“We can’t afford to use ministry dollars that are used for crisis assistance to hire a painter,” Silber said. “So today Publix is helping to clean up our lobby and get it ready for our fiftieth celebration. That’s the importance of volunteers as we live united.”

Along with individual and families volunteering, there were several groups who helped: Publix in Hickory, Vertical Socket Inc., Catawba County Youth Council, Gaston Family Health Services and Carter Bank and Trust.

The Catawba County United Way currently works with 15 funded partners who run 20 local programs focused on one of three impact areas: education, income and health.

For more information about the CCUW and other volunteer opportunities visit ccunitedway.com, CCUW on Facebook or call 828-327-6851.



Sept. 26, 2019

United Way Cross Country Invitational inspires character in athletes

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way


This year’s 27th annual Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Southside Park in Newton with nearly 40 schools registered. The first start will be at 2:40 p.m.

Along with being a chance for some of the best athletes across the region to compete, it is a community service project-oriented event as well.

Event organizer, John Hall said he always wanted the race to be about more than just the competition.

"It has emphasized good life values," Hall said. "The young people have embraced it. Each year they are doing important and creative work in their communities across western North Carolina."

Teams have taken part in everything from community clean-up projects to helping at local soup kitchens to running book drives for elementary school libraries.

Freedom High School Cross Country coach Samantha Martin hopes her athletes’ service project teaches them no amount of help can ever be too small.

Martin learned this herself when she ran at the United Way Invitational for Freedom High in 2012. Her team visited patients in a nursing home for their project.

"I remember talking to an older lady for an hour about her family that lived in Florida. My visitation was the only one she had in months," Martin said. "It was important to me because, as a teenager, I did not step outside my box often and did not realize how alone some people are."

This year’s guest speakers, Dave Clark and Doug Cornfield, have an equally inspiring story to share.

Clark is a remarkable athlete who overcame polio as a child to become a professional baseball pitcher on crutches. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization in 1971 and began a path to a 40-year baseball career, including time as a spring training coach for the Atlanta Braves and an assistant coach for Team USA in the 1996 Olympics. 

Cornfield wrote a children’s book about Dave’s story, showing the power of friendship and caring. 

The Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational started in 1993 with 11 schools from three counties and more than 100 athletes. In 1994, the race moved to Southside Park and has grown in numbers ever since. This year nearly 800 runners are registered for the invitational.

Former winners include several state champions and NCAA All-Americans.

One of the United Way’s three impact areas is education which includes a focus on encouraging students to be productive young adults who find value in giving back to their communities.

For more information contact John Bailey at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.

 

Sept. 23, 2019

United Way celebrates 75 years of impact


BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way


From polio to poverty to war and through recession, citizens of Catawba County have known their share of crisis.

No matter the issue though, for the last seven decades there has been a source of hope for those in need, the Catawba County United Way, and it will celebrate its 75th anniversary on Sept. 19.

It’s been a journey of change and growth for the agency, but regardless of its name or who it partnered with, the United Way has always looked for ways to bridge that gap between needs and resources.

“None of us knows when something bad is going to happen and the United Way has insured that there are services in place for people when a crisis hits,” Ann Peele said.

She recently retired as the Executive Director of the Family Guidance Center in Hickory. She spent more than 40 years with the agency, which is a long-time funded partner of the United Way.

“In the beginning, I don’t think I fully understood, but after four decades I can say that the United Way is in a sense the backbone of our community because of all the different agencies that it funds,” Peele said. “It is reaching and touching so many lives and for many it’s a lifesaver.”

In 1944, the spark of the CCUW began as the Hickory Community Chest and War Fund. Then, in 1954, the name would change to Greater Hickory United Fund and in 1958 the Eastern Catawba County United Fund would be created. In 1985, the two agencies merged into today’s Catawba County United Way.

The celebration on Sept. 19 will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Hickory. Along with a look back at the CCUW’s history, it will be a chance to recognize local companies and agencies who contributed to the 2018 campaign.

Local community and government leaders will be in attendance and there will be proclamations from local municipalities recognizing the anniversary and a special gift from the state capital, courtesy of General Assembly Representative Mitchell Setzer.

Guest speakers included: Henry Morphis, Morphis Law & Mediation/CCUW President; Alex Shuford III, CEO RHF (Century Furniture, Hickory Chair, Hancock & Moore) Investments; Amy Guyer, RHF Investments/CCUW Campaign Chair, Patrick Underdown, HSM Solutions/CCUW Treasurer, Benny Yount, President/CEO Paramount Automotive and Keith Mackie, Catawba Valley Community College/CCUW Vice President.

Musical performances provided by Northview Middle School orchestra and Hickory High School Chorus.

The first programs the agency supported were The Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Public Playgrounds, the Civilian Defense Fund and Catawba County Health Camp.

The CCUW eventually evolved to focus on three community impact areas: Health, Education and Income which led to partnerships with dozens of local non-profit and not-for-profit agencies.

Currently the CCUW helps support after-school and summer programs for kids through The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club, the Imagination Library though Partnership for Children, child care subsidies through Community Ridge Day Care, mentoring and healthy youth programs through the Council on Adolescents, transitional housing for homeless teens through Sipe’s Orchard Home, tutoring programs through Patrick Beaver Learning Resources, crisis financial assistance and the Shelter of Hope through The Salvation Army, transitional housing for after release from treatment or prison through Exodus Homes, crisis financial assistance and counseling through ECCCM, crisis rent/mortgage assistance through GHCCM, consumer credit counseling, individual/family counseling, First Step domestic violence shelter, sexual assault services – all through Family Guidance Center; senior nutrition services through DSS, HIV counseling/testing through Aids Leadership Foothills Area Alliance, emergency/disaster services through the American Red Cross.

What drew Joe Crocker to the United Way board in the 1980s was its ability to impact several organizations though a single effort. Crocker – currently the Director of Local Impact in Forsyth County for Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust – was part of the group who orchestrated the unification of the two United Ways in 1985 and a former CCUW board president.

"From a time spent perspective and from an efficiency perspective, that's why the term 'United' is so important, whether they change the name to Fund or to Way or to Community, whatever it is, the word 'United' really does stand out because you want to do things together,” Crocker said.

In the end, the United Way’s focus has always been on increasing the organized capacity of people to help others.

If you’d like to be involved with The United Way visit ccunitedway.com or The Catawba County United Way on Facebook or call 828-327-6851 for more information.



Aug. 19, 2019



United Way announces new funded partners for 2020

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

 

With a new program, a new agency and a solid focus on its traditional impact areas of education, income and health, the Catawba County United Way’s board recently approved the agency’s funded partners for 2020.

Catawba County United Way (CCUW) will use the donor dollars pledged during this year’s campaign to help support 22 programs run by 14 local funded agencies.

“At Exodus Homes we are very concerned about the rising death rate from opiate overdoses in Catawba County. We want to be part of the solution to save lives and give people a chance to recover,” Exodus Homes Assistant Executive Director Rev. Susan Walker said.

Along with the agency’s transitional housing for the homeless program, Exodus received funding for the new Medically Assisted Treatment program (MAT).

The program will start with two beds for homeless recovering people referred from local detox programs or the Catawba County Jail who otherwise meet Exodus Homes admission criteria, according to the Request for Funding submitted to the United Way.

The MAT clients will be in a day treatment program while taking buprenorphine (suboxone) under supervision to help them with the mental craving, mental obsession and physical withdrawal experienced in recovery from opiate addiction.

In 2017, there were 1,953 overdose deaths­­­ involving opioids in North Carolina—a rate of 19.8 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, according to a National Institute on Drug Abuse report at drugabuse.gov.

The desire to address the local opioid addiction problem led to the United Way reaching out to its existing funded partner, Exodus Homes.

“They’ve had great success already working with and improving the lives of people who are battling other addictions, so we are confident this is a good fit for their agency,” CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

The CCUW Campaign Chair Amy Guyer said the county benefits every day from the work of all the United Way funded partners.

“Whether in response to a fire or weather emergency, domestic violence or family crisis, giving preschoolers access to books, or helping families remain employed or handle a financial crisis, these agencies impact people around us every day,” Guyer said. “Those services exist through the generosity of our United Way donors and the support of our employer-sponsored campaigns.”  

A new agency receiving funds for 2020 is Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry. It is receiving support for the Crisis Rent and Mortgage Assistance program.

Preparing for its 75th anniversary of community impact, United Way volunteers recently picked up campaign packets and will be taking them to local businesses and other organizations this month.

2020 funded partners

INCOME

Adult Life                                                                  $38,900

Easter Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry

-Crisis Financial Assistance Coaching                    $18,000

-Crisis Financial Assistance                                    $41,000

Exodus Homes Transitional Housing                      $32,500

Family Guidance Center

-Consumer Credit Counseling                                 $76,800

Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry

-Rent/Mortgage Assistance                                     $22,700

The Salvation Army Hickory

-Crisis Financial Assistance                                    $25,450

-Shelter of Hope                                                      $48,000

HEALTH

Aids Leadership Foothills Area Alliance             $23,000

American Red Cross - Catawba County            $19,500          

Council on Adolescents Healthy Youth              $32,300

DSS Senior Nutrition                                              $24,300

Exodus - MAT program                                          $44,560

Family Guidance Center

-Domestic Violence                                                $127,000

-Individual & Family Counseling                             $87,800

-Sexual Assault Services                                       $18,600

EDUCATION

Council on Adolescents Mentoring Program       $34,000

Community Ridge Day Care                                 $12,750

CCPC - Imagination Library                                  $20,000

Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Canter         $15,000

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club                        $24,500

Sipe's Orchard Home                                             $20,750

If you or your company would like to participate in Catawba County United Way’s upcoming campaign call Sylvia Long at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.


 

July 30, 2019



United Way helps protect your credit from yourself


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


A key area of impact for the Catawba County United Way is income and the drive to promote financial stability and independence for everyone.

The importance of this effort has been highlighted by the recent data breach of Capital One exposing sensitive financial information of more than 100 million people in the United States and Canada.

While this event is a good reminder of how important it is to know and keep an eye on your credit history, it’s also a good time to remember the importance of protecting your credit scores from yourself.

In April, the Federal Reserve reported American consumers owed $1.04 trillion in credit card debt, according to a USA Today story. This amount was up from $854 billion five years ago.

A CreditCards.com poll from earlier this year showed 25 percent of U.S. adults don’t think they will ever get out of debt which is up from nine percent in 2013.

These numbers are why the Catawba County United Way seeks out opportunities to help teach those in need better ways of managing their expenses and saving money through programs by funded partners like The Salvation Army, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry and Family Guidance Center.

Together these agencies provide a variety of programs offering crisis financial assistance, financial counseling and consumer credit counseling.

Sonja McGill developed an expense chart with help from her Crisis Assistance Coach Audrey Wike at Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM). It tracks where her money needs to go every week, from gas to food to utilities and clothing.

"Then you have a chart where you put down things you want, like getting your hair done, your nails, your eyelashes done," McGill said. "To keep me above water, we have to get rid of the wants."

Visit http://www.ccunitedway.com/Community-Partners-Partners-2019-Funded-Programs to learn more about how the CCUW and these funded agencies can help find ways to increase the organized capacity of people to help others.



July 5, 2019


North Newton Elementary School Counselor Emily Miller and Principal Jill Hager see the need for school supplies

every year among their students and appreciate all the help the United Way Stuff the Bus provides. 


United Way set to “Stuff the Bus” with school supply drive

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


The Catawba County United Way is getting ready to host its annual school supply drive, from July 8 through Aug. 8.
The event benefits all three public school districts in Catawba County and fills a need families face every year.
“A lot of our students have social, emotional and physical needs. Then they come to us on the first day of school and they don't have book bags. They don't have notebooks, pencils,” North Newton Elementary Principal Jill Hager said. “This drive provides us the opportunity to give these students the materials they need on that first day of school.”

Hager said the school district does everything it can to have additional supplies available for students in need, but the need sometimes outweighs the resources available.

This is the situation in all three local school districts and the reason why the United Way organizes the drive.

According to 2017-18 NC Public Schools data, Catawba County Schools has 50.7 percent of its student population receiving free/reduced lunch. Hickory Public Schools’ percentage is 65.53 while Newton-Conover City Schools is 63.58 percent.

What’s needed: 3-ring binders, book bags, spiral notebooks, graph paper, notebook paper (college and regular rule), composition books, pens, pencils, glue sticks, dividers with tabs and pockets, glue sticks, dividers with tabs and pockets, erasers, folders, crayons, colored pencils, compasses, rulers, markers, scissors.

Once collected, United Way volunteers will sort and package items for pick-up by local school personnel prior to classes starting in August. Items collected will be available through school social workers or other school personnel.

Items can be dropped off at the Catawba County United Way office at 2760 Tate Blvd. in Hickory. Other drop-off sites include all branches of the Catawba County Library system and City of Hickory Julian G. Whitener Building at 76 N. Center Street. Various companies throughout Catawba County are doing internal collections as well.

“The Catawba County United Way is focused on helping every child in the county reach their potential which is why the United Way searches out needs related to education and works to meet them every year,” CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

For more information about the drive or call 828-327-6851 or email jbailey@ccunitedway.com.



July 1, 2019 


United Way collects over a thousand items for student hygiene drive

 

JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

While everyone thinks of notebooks and pencils when they consider purchasing school supplies, the Catawba County United Way (CCUW) made sure local families in need will also have access to hygiene products for their children.

The annual United Way Day of Action Hygiene Drive recently wrapped up after collecting thousands of individual items. School counselors from all three Catawba County public school districts will distribute them to their students in August.

With 80 percent of its students qualifying for free/reduced lunches, North Newton Elementary Principal Jill Hager said she sees the impact of the hygiene drive every year.

“Thank goodness we were able, as a school with the help of the United Way and other organizations, to fill that void and get the supplies needed for our families,” Hager said. “This means the students are able to start the school day feeling clean and just feeling good about their physical presence.”

Items collected included – toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, hair spray, hair gel, body wash, soap, shave crème and feminine hygiene products.

Along with all those individuals who contributed items, several local businesses and governments partnered with the CCUW in the drive. They included: The Hickory Furniture Mart, City of Hickory, City of Newton, Design Foundry in Hickory, Carter Bank and Trust, Century Furniture, West Rock, Catawba Valley Medical Center, Vanguard Furniture, Certainteed in Claremont, Peoples Bank and Corning in Newton.

The Catawba County United Way is focused on helping every child in the county reach their potential which is why the agency searches out needs related to education and works to meet them every year.

For more information about this event or volunteering through the Catawba County United Way, visit ccunitedway.com, the CCUW Facebook page or call 828-327-6851.


 

June 10, 2019


Catawba County United Way’s Day of Action

Personal Caring Drive for Local Students

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Something as simple as a toothbrush and a bar of soap can make all the difference for a child headed to school.

“We have students who have been displaced or their families are just really struggling and it’s nice for them to come to school and for us to have the supplies they need that are going to, appearance-wise, make them equal to all of their classmates,” Emily Miller, North Newton Elementary school counselor said.

On June 21, Catawba County United Way is rallying hundreds of volunteers throughout the community for a Day of Action, an annual event that mobilizes the caring power of volunteers to make a meaningful impact in our community.

This year’s event, a Personal Caring Drive, will benefit students in all three public school systems by providing them basic hygiene products.

Items being collected include – toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, hair spray, hair gel, body wash, soap, shave crème and feminine hygiene products.

The public can drop off items June 17 through June 21 at the following locations: Catawba County United Way at 2760 Tate Blvd in Hickory, the Hickory Furniture Mart (South Entrance Reception) at 2220 Highway 70 SE, City of Hickory Julian G. Whitener Building at 76 N. Center Street, Design Foundry at 1105 22nd Street SE in Hickory and City of Newton City Hall at 401 N. Main Ave. Various companies throughout Catawba County are doing internal collections as well.

Miller and North Newton Elementary principal Jill Hager said their school has a 75 to 80 percent poverty rate so they see the impact of the hygiene drive every year.

“Thank goodness we were able as a school, with the help of the United Way and other organizations, fill that void and get the supplies needed for our families,” Hager said.

Once collected, United Way volunteers will sort and package items for pick-up by local school personnel prior to school starting in the fall. Items collected will be available through school social workers or other school personnel.

“This means the students are able to start the school day feeling clean and just feeling good about their physical presence,” Miller said.

Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor said she hopes everyone takes the time be part of this effort and opportunity to impact the lives of those in need.

Last year, more than 418 United Ways in 21 countries mobilized volunteers in their communities on Day of Action.  

For more information about this event or volunteering through the Catawba County United Way, visit our www.ccunitedway.com, email jbailey@ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.


 

 

May 28, 2019



You can never say Thank You enough

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

Welcoming smiles, handshakes and fresh coffee filled The Family Guidance Center (FGC) recently as it hosted a Law Enforcement Appreciation Brunch.

The FGC, a Catawba County United Way funded partner, invited members of local law enforcement agencies to the first-time event to thank them for all they do for the community and for supporting the mission of the Family Guidance Center which provides support to families and children in times of stress.

The Family Guidance Center Staff were honored by the incredible attendance of local law enforcement at the brunch, Executive Director LaWanda Brown said. Those attending included Hickory, Newton, Maiden, Longview, Catawba, Claremont and Brookford Police departments along with Catawba County Sheriff, NC Highway Patrol, members of the local District Attorney’s Office, SBI and ALE.

“Family Guidance Center is dedicated to restoring and improving the lives of anyone affected by personal hardship, domestic violence or sexual assault by providing professional counseling, supportive services and education,” Brown said. “We recognize the tireless efforts of Law Enforcement in our community to protect and serve while always going the extra mile to ensure our clients have access to necessary resources. 

“Officers routinely stay later than expected, make additional phone calls, assist victims seeking shelter and the countless other things that go unrecognized all while connecting citizens with those resources.”

The executive director said these officers are often the front line of contact for the client population that Family Guidance serves.

“What a powerful community partnership and an incredible impact these men and women in uniform make in our community,” Brown said.

One of the impact areas for the United Way is Health and more specifically programs focused on ensuring safe and secure environments. For this reason, the Catawba County United Way seeks out and supports local agencies who work to fill this need like Family Guidance through its programs.

Last year the FGC served 1,739 unduplicated persons through its First Step Domestic Violence program, 442 unduplicated persons through its Individual and Family Counseling program and 79 through its Sexual Assault Services.

For more information about Family Guidance Center call 828-322-1400 or visit fgcservices.com online.



May 15, 2019


Lake Hickory Crossings Publix store manager Arnie Jackson (right) recently stopped by the new home of the Little 

Library at the Hickory Housing Authority office on South Center Street. Josefina Cazares, Family Self Sufficiency 

Coordinator and Lavona Farr, Nu-Dimensions Business and Community Engagement Officer, helped set up the free 

lending library. John Bailey/Catawba Co. United Way


Publix partners with United Way to bring books to local communities


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


HICKORY – Access to a good book just got a little easier for local families.

The Hickory Housing Authority office at 841 South Center Street recently received a Little Library from Arnie Jackson, store manager of the Publix at Lake Hickory Crossings.

The local store partnered with the Catawba County United Way (CCUW) – where Jackson is a board member - to find a home for the library which is filled with dozens of books collected by Publix associates.

The library functions as a small book exchange for anyone in the community. The public is welcome to take a book, return it when they’re done and donate one back if they'd like.

This opportunity came out of the recent 2019 Publix Retail Operation Conference in Florida. For this year’s philanthropy project, Publix leaders built 132 Little Libraries and collected over 14,000 books to fill them.

“Then we took them back to our communities and put them in different areas where kids or adults can get books out of them to help promote reading,” Jackson said.

Locally, the Publix at Lake Hickory Crossings has a long history of working with the Catawba County United Way to address the educational needs of local families. Last year, the store donated two pallets of school supplies during the United Way's annual Stuff the Bus event.

The Little Library partnership also fits well within the Catawba County United Way's targeted education impact area of school readiness and academic achievement.

Lavona Farr, Nu-Dimensions Business and Community Engagement Officer was excited about having the library at the Hickory Housing Authority.

"We have a lot of families come into our office. They can read a book from the Little Library to their child while they wait, or they can pick one out to take with them," Farr said. "We’ve had a lot of interest in the Little Library already."

The Hickory Housing Authority on South Center Street is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.) Monday through Friday. 


 

May 8, 2019


Letter Carriers prepare for annual food drive

 

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 27th annual national food drive on Saturday, May 11.

The Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive is the country's largest single-day food drive and has collected 1.6 billion pounds of food since it began in 1993. It focuses on providing residents with an easy way to donate to those in need.

In recent years, the amount gathered in Catawba County has been between 35,000 and 50,000 pounds of food, local coordinator Wayne Eller said.

He likes to remind everyone what’s collected stays local. Items are distributed to non-profits in the counties where they’re collected the same day they’re picked up.

In Catawba County, this would include agencies like Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry and The Salvation Army in Hickory.

Eller said there are similar agencies in Alexander, Burke and Caldwell Counties.

Letter carriers collect the donations residents leave near their mail boxes as they deliver mail along their postal routes on May 11.

People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.

Do not donate frozen food, homemade food or home-canned items. Please do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers.

Rob Setliff, The Salvation Army Business Administrator said the annual food drive provides over half of the food it gives out.

“It is very important for us to receive at this time of the year because we currently have three weeks of food left on our pantry shelves,” Setliff said.

Executive Director for Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry Rev. Robert Silber said this event is equally impactful for ECCCM.

“We will have one or two youth groups working the event, unloading postal vehicles, then loading the food on the ECCCM truck,” Silber said. “This drive, on average, has a major impact on over 200 families or 700 individuals.”

The Letter Carriers' food drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, according to the NALC.

"Every day on our routes, letter carriers see the struggles many people have with providing for their basic needs. We are honored to be able to contribute to the families and the communities we serve by helping millions of Americans who otherwise would face hunger," Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said.

Last year, letter carriers across the country collected 75.3 million pounds of food, the third-highest amount since the food drive began in 1993.

Several national partners are assisting NALC in the food drive: the U.S. Postal Service, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, Valpak and Valassis.

The Catawba County United Way is a proud local supporter of this event, helping to inform the public about the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive each year.

People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or visit nalc.org/food.



 

May 6, 2019 

Sonja McGill (left) reviews some money saving ideas with her Crisis Assistance Coach Audrey Wike at Eastern 

Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM). The Catawba County United Way funded partner offers crisis 

financial assistance and coaching. Photo: John Bailey/CCUW


Local non-profits partner to help with financial instability

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


For Sonja McGill the most valuable skill she learned in the last year was understanding the difference between need and want.

To address this, she developed an expense chart with help from her Crisis Assistance Coach Audrey Wike at Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM). It tracks where her money needs to go every week, from gas to food to utilities and clothing.

"Then you have a chart where you put down things you want, like getting your hair done, your nails, your eyelashes done," McGill said. "To keep me above water, we have to get rid of the wants."

Whether you live from paycheck to paycheck or feel comfortable as middle or upper middle class, the sudden loss of your job or an unexpected crisis could spin your life out of control financially.

The Catawba County United Way tackles this issue of financial instability with help from its funded partners like ECCCM, Family Guidance Center, Adult Life, The Salvation Army and Exodus Homes. They provide a variety of programs offering crisis financial assistance, financial counseling and consumer credit counseling.

McGill said ECCCM’s Crisis Assistance Coaching Program was invaluable in helping her stabilize and then improve her family’s finances after her husband lost his job. She struggled to make ends meet while working and attending cosmetology school full time.

For ECCCM staff, being accountable and learning to prioritize are the first lessons they teach.

"When you come here and ask for help, they're looking at you and see you had extra money, so they ask why did you get your toes and nails done? Why did you go get your car painted, but then come here and ask for help," McGill said.

While it was hard giving up those wants, McGill stayed focus on her big need, finishing school, which got tough when her work hours got cut.

McGill knew going to school was the best way to secure her family’s financial future and wasn’t giving it up. Again, ECCCM helped fill in the gaps so she could graduate. At different times, the agency helped with her light bill, rent and provided food assistance.

In 2018, ECCCM served over 9,000 clients with 400 benefiting from financial coaching.

Wike said the first step is to teach clients how to create a budget and stick to it.

"We'll always be here for them, but it's good to know they have the skills and can do it on their own," the case manager said.

This feeds into the next step, keeping her clients upbeat about the journey. Wike looks forward to celebrating all the small and big victories along the way to financial stability like getting a job or finding a new way to save $50.

McGill recently completed her cosmetology classes. She is preparing to get her state license and is already building her own client base. While she does continue to work a second job, her finances are getting stronger every week.

These results are why the Catawba County United Way targets funding to partners who provide crisis financial assistance and coaching like ECCCM.

"Together with our partners we’re focused on seeing people becoming self-sufficient and prepared to return to our community with the skills they need to be successful and provide for themselves and their family," CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

When it comes to getting help, McGill said it's important to swallow your pride.

"God put these people her for a reason, and I took advantage of it and I thank God every day that I didn't have to go out there in the world and do things crazy to get what my family needed like having lights on or food on the table," McGill said. "I thank God for these people."

For more information about ECCCM visit ecccm.org or to learn about any of the other CCUW funded partners visit ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.

 

 

April 29, 2019


Hickory High junior Lauran Surratt and Newton-Conover High senior Mikey Gordon take part in the funding discussion 

during this year's Catawba County Youth Council United Way Community Investment allocation process.


Youth Council allocates $10,000 to local non-profits

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

From helping feed low-income youth, to encouraging Latino students to go to college, to providing a healing environment for teen victims of sexual abuse, the Catawba County Youth Council recently voted on which local non-profits it wanted to support.

The Council has participated in the Catawba County United Way Youth Community Investment process for sixteen years, working to find agencies in the county who address the needs of students in one of three impact areas: education, income and health.

This allocation is supported by student fundraising events in local schools. Activities for this year included a penny war at Banoak Elementary, a candy sale at North Newton Elementary, a hat day at Arndt Middle, a dress down day at Newton-Conover Middle and a car wash at Community School.

After the Youth Council makes its recommendations for funding, the Catawba County United Way Board of Directors votes to approve the amount. 

This year the Council chose five local programs to support: The Corner Table Soup Kitchen’s Backpack program ($3,400), Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center’s Camp Dragonfly ($2,500), St. Stephens High’s Juntos 4-H ($2,000), Morning Star Baptist Church’s Joseph Hill Reach Back Tutoring ($1,200) and Family Care Center’s Getting Techy ($900).

Youth Council President and Challenger Early College High School senior Carrigan Price said being part of the United Way allocation process has shown her how important non-profit agencies are within a community.

"The Backpack Program is one we've devoted a lot of our time to because we really see how much it's impacting the students within the school systems from elementary all the way up to high school," she said.                                                                            

The Catawba County United Way Youth Council was formed in 2003 under the direction of Shurtape CEO Stephen Shuford, a United Way Board member at the time. He led this effort with the belief that youth who become involved in their community as a teen, continue to be active as they become adults, according to ccunitedway.com.                                              

In 2014, the Catawba County United Way Youth Council merged with the Catawba County Youth Council. It’s now made up of at least one representative of each high school while the local middle school students are also invited during the allocation presentations.

Newton-Conover High senior Mikey Gordon enjoyed learning about the agencies during the presentations especially how they ran their budgets and programs.

"I really loved seeing how each of them gave back to the community in their own ways," Gordon said.

Home school senior Josh Carter was interested in learning about the number of youth an agency helps with its program.

"Really, for me, it's about how much of a footprint they have," Carter said.

This year’s agencies receiving allocations cover a wide array of services to local youth.

1-Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center – Camp Dragonfly     

Assists teen sexual abuse and assault survivors. Funds used to offset this year’s summer camp which provides therapeutic activities.

2-The Corner Table Soup Kitchen – Backpack Program                     

Provides food for students from low-income homes, facing hunger especially during weekends. It serves students in 34 schools in Catawba County.

3-St. Stephens High – Juntos 4-H                                               

Funds being used for meals at eight family engagement activities. Reaches out to Hispanic student population and their families, encouraging students to stay in school and attended college.

4-Morning Star Baptist Church – Joseph Hill Reach Back Tutorial Program                        

This is a free afterschool tutoring program. Funding used to provide educational materials and light snack. There are 43 students already enrolled. Tutors trained to work with learning disabled students and ESL students.

5-Family Care Center of Catawba Valley – Getting Techy                  

The agency is an emergency shelter program for homeless families with children. Funds used for computer/printer equipment for after-school tutoring and during their summer camp.

Youth Council membership applications are available through the guidance departments at the local high schools or by contacting Donna Mull at 828-465-8240 or at donna_mull@ncsu.edu.

Applications from non-profits for the United Way Youth Community Investment process are accepted in early March. For more information about allocations contact the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851.



April 15, 2019


The Catawba County Interagency Council recently held its annual State of the County event. The discussion panel included 

DSS Program Manager Jessica Ford, Catawba Co. Sheriff, Don Brown, Public Health Director Doug Urland, Catawba Valley 

Behavioral Health Clinical Director Tim Lentz, Partners Behavioral HealthCare Housing Specialist Teena Willis, Integrated Care of Greater Hickory CEO/Clinical Director Corey Richardson, Area Agency on Aging Director Tina Miller and County Commissioner 

Randy Isenhour.


Interagency Council hosts annual State of the County event


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com 


The importance and impact of collaboration was an overall theme during the recent State of the County panel discussion hosted by the Catawba County Interagency Council at the county library's main branch in Newton.

More than one hundred representatives from non-profit and community service agencies throughout the county showed up to listen to a discussion covering issues such as homelessness, public health, child welfare and affordable housing.

The panel included DSS Program Manager Jessica Ford, Catawba Co. Sheriff, Don Brown, Public Health Director Doug Urland, Catawba Valley Behavioral Health Clinical Director Tim Lentz, Partners Behavioral HealthCare Housing Specialist Teena Willis, Integrated Care of Greater Hickory CEO/Clinical Director Corey Richardson, Area Agency on Aging Director Tina Miller and County Commissioner Randy Isenhour.

Jamie Brown, the Interagency's Chair and the Executive Director for Sipe's Orchard Home, presented questions from members of the council. They included what were the priority areas of the organizations on the panel and what is being done to inspire younger adults to make the county their home.

Ford addressed the issue of services for children. She said there are currently 329 children in foster care in the county, which is a record. The DSS Program Manager said there is no clear reason for this, but her agency is working hard to recruit more foster families.

She mentioned Foster Care Sunday on May 19 as an upcoming promotional event with 45 churches signed up to participate.

Lentz highlighted the importance of organizations working together to meet community issues.

He used the example of Catawba Valley Behavioral Health working with Partners Behavioral HealthCare to reduce redundancy and get help for people faster.

"I think that collaborative nature of being able to say this is not my specialty, so how can we work together to help this person, improve what’s already out there, is key," Lentz said.

Lunch was provided by The Hickory Soup Kitchen.

The Catawba County Interagency Council meets every second Thursday at the Catawba County United Way office at 10:30 a.m. For more information about attending the meetings call 828-327-6851.

 

 

April 9, 2019


Alex Fisher was recently recognized as a winner of the NC Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service. He 

volunteers at The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton. The announcement was made during The Corner Table’s 

70’s themed Volunteer appreciation luncheon. Fisher was nominated after winning the 2018 Catawba County United Way 

(CCUW) Giving from the Heart Youth volunteer award. From left: Corner Table Executive Director Summer Jenkins, Fisher, 

CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor and CCUW Director of Finance Tammy Dotson.


Local youth wins NC Governor’s Service Award Medallion

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Cleaning, prepping food, organizing a stockroom, loading and unloading donations may not be a good time for every ten-year-old, but for Alex Fisher it was exactly how he wanted to spend is spare moments.

He was helping his grandmother at the time, volunteering at The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton.

Five years later, his drive to help others hasn’t changed and this dedication recently earned him state-level recognition as one of this year’s North Carolina Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service winners.

This honor goes to those who represent the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service, according to nc.gov/agencies/volunteer/volunteer-awards

Fisher got the news during the recent Corner Table’s Volunteer appreciation luncheon. He is one of only 21 medallion winners selected across North Carolina for 2019.

He was nominated for the Governor’s Medallion after winning the 2018 Youth Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center Giving From the Heart award.

The Corner Table’s Executive Director, Summer Jenkins nominated Fisher for the CCUW award because of his continued dedication to the agency.

Jenkins described the Fred T. Foard freshman as the type who’s always looking for a job to complete and a way to help.

Over the years, his job has grown to include greeting guests, making tea and lemonade, making to-go bags, training new volunteers, setting up work stations and organizing other volunteers at fundraising events.

“It seems these days youth are more consumed with themselves, video games and social media,” Jenkins said in her Giving From the Heart nomination form for Fisher. “When you find that rare gem, someone who stands out and has a passion for putting others first, they deserve to be recognized.” 

During this year’s Giving From the Heart Awards, Fisher said he couldn’t imagine life without volunteering at The Corner Table.

"I've seen what underprivileged people go through, the struggles they go through and it got to me and changed me,” he said.

For more information about The Corner Table Soup Kitchen visit thecornertable.org and for more information about the Catawba County United Way or to learn about volunteer opportunities in the county visit ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.

The Catawba County United Way’s mission is to increase the organized capacity of people to help others. For more information about the CCUW visit ccunitedway.com or the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page or call 828-327-6851.

 

April 2, 2019


Luis Morales shares his story of recovery and the help he’s receiving at Exodus Homes, a Catawba County United 

Way Funded Partner. Morales recently was hired as the assistant manager for the agency’s thrift store. 


United Way agencies provide path to income stability

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

It’s easy to take for granted a meal, a roof over your head, a jacket to keep you warm.

For some, these simple essentials can all be pushed out of reach by the sudden loss of your job, a serious illness or a growing addiction. Any of these can lead to a personal and financial crisis, and it can happen to anyone.

According to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau report at census.gov, 12.5 percent of Catawba County’s population lives in poverty. Nationally, the official poverty rate in 2017 was 12.3 percent.

The Catawba County United Way (CCUW) works to close this financial gap in our community through the help of its funded partners like Exodus Homes, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Adult Life, Family Guidance Center and The Salvation Army.

Luis Morales found his beacon of light at Exodus Homes in Hickory.

The agency, founded by Executive Director Rev. Reggie Longcrier, offers transitional to long term supportive housing and employment opportunities for homeless, recovering people returning to the community from treatment programs and prison.

Prior to reaching their doors, Morales's life was focused on travelling from one drink to another.

"Waking up I wouldn't even know what time it was, what time I get up or what time I go to sleep," he said.

Night or day he didn't care, and he admits he didn't know why he drank. Eventually, his habit led to legal troubles from drinking and driving and eventually time in jail.

When the judge offered him a chance to go into a rehab program in Gastonia, Morales took it, knowing it was his best bet on getting life moving in the right direction. While there, he heard about Exodus Homes.

The transition felt strange at first, he said, but after getting to know the staff at Exodus Homes and Rev. Longcrier and Assistant Executive Director Rev. Susan Walker he knew it was the best place for him.

Morales is equally motivated by seeing everyone else traveling down the same path of recovery.

"All the people here, we're the same," Morales said. "We're drug addicts, but then we come here, and we can become somebody good in life. That's where I want to go with this."

Rev. Walker said it's almost impossible for people coming out of prison or substance abuse treatment centers to reenter the workforce and become self-sustaining without help.

They face several obstacles. They lack transportation, proper identification to be hired at a job or might have a resume with gaps in their work history. Many may have criminal records.

Exodus Homes provides all the tools they can to help make their clients employable, helping them get food stamps so they can eat, signing them up for health and pharmacy cards and providing transportation.

Then the clients gain experience working at one of the agency's enterprises.

"They re-learn the value of getting to work on time, following instructions, finishing a task, getting along with other people," Walker said. "Until you're able to do those things, you're probably not going to be employable."

While doing nothing all day but drinking was the norm for Morales in his past, now he looks forward to getting out of bed at 6 a.m. and going to work as the assistant manager for Exodus Home's thrift store.

Before, he didn't want to interact with anyone. Now, he enjoys getting to know every customer he meets.

Before, he didn't care what he or his home looked like. Now, he gets excited about coming up with new ways to display the furniture at the store and moving inventory.

Before, he wasn’t worried about anyone or himself. Now, he can’t thank the staff and other clients at Exodus Homes for all they’ve done to help him.

These results are why the Catawba County United Way targets funding to partners who help individuals like Morales. This support helps them reenter the work force with new job skills, a renewed motivation to succeed and a greater sense of self-worth, CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

For Rev. Walker, it's also about providing people with the opportunity to do the right thing.

"If you get out of treatment or prison and you have no money, no car, no resources...what would you do," Walker said. "You might do things the wrong way. You might do whatever desperate people do to support themselves. We want people to reenter society the right way."

For more information about Exodus Homes visit exodushomes.com or to learn about any of the other CCUW funded partners visit ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.

To see more of the Morales interview, look for the video on the CCUW’s Facebook page, facebook.com/catawbacountyunitedway/.


 

March 13, 2019


Volunteer groups needed for some Spring “cleaning”


The following organizations have reached out to the Volunteer Center at the Catawba County United Way looking for groups of volunteers to help with some upcoming spring projects. If you see any you’d like to help let the CCUW know.

1.    Red Cross: Could use painters in their office in April. Will need around 6 volunteers and will provide supplies.

2.    HOPE (Help Our People Eat) Garden now located at Corinth needs to start planting in the next few weeks. What they’re temporarily looking at is Tues. and Thur. 4:30 - 6:30pm and Sat. mornings, 8:30 - 10:30am.

3.    Family Care Center needs volunteers anytime to help with their community gardens (16 raised bed gardens). They need to be weeded and turned over to get ready for spring plantings. We also have some other landscape needs including weeding, trimming shrubs.

4.    Catawba County Historical Association - There is one project that will be coming up in late March or early April. One of our property's is the Michael Widener grave yard located on SR 1008 between Blackburn and Mt. View communities.

The grave yard is fenced in and about 60ft. X 40ft. with about 20 graves. We clean this twice a year, in early spring and late fall.

5.    Habitat for Humanity – We can accept groups of up to 12 in our New Construction program, and groups of 3-5 in our Repairs program. We host groups in New Construction Thurs. – Sat from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., and in Repairs on Wed., Fri. and Sat. from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

6.    Highway & Hedges: We have a lot of volunteer opportunities at Highways & Hedges. Their looking for volunteers who have pickups and/or trailers with which they might haul furniture and firewood, etc? They also have some handyman projects available.

7.    Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry: they have a large painting project in their lobby and hallways (walls only, no ceilings or trim work) as they prepare for their open house in the fall.

If you are part of or know of a group of volunteers who’d be interested in any or all of these projects contact John Bailey at the Catawba County United Way, jbailey@ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.


 

Feb. 25, 2019

Catawba County Youth Council accepting requests for funding


The Catawba County Youth Council is accepting Requests for Funding Proposals (RFPs) that are targeted to address the identified Impact Areas of Health, Education and Income as they relate to the needs and wellbeing of children and youth in our community.  Youth Council RFPs will only be accepted for programs identifiable under these impact areas that specifically address the needs of children and youth in Catawba County.

The RFP applications are due to Catawba County United Way by 5 p.m. on March 15.

Applications can be downloaded from HERE.

RFPs will be considered by the Catawba County Youth Council from organizations who are either incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax exempt entity or who have a 501-C3 legal status, within Catawba County, who comply with applicable legal, federal, state and local operating and reporting requirements (e.g. government approved accounting practices, annual audit, 990, nondiscrimination). 

RFPs for consideration by the Youth Council must be programs operated by an active, responsible and voluntary governing body and adhere to a locally developed and adopted code of ethics for volunteers and staff, which include provisions for ethical management, publicity, fundraising practices and full and fair disclosure.

Monies available for program funding are raised solely by youth – groups and/or individuals in Catawba County through the Catawba County United Way’s annual community campaign.  Catawba County Youth Council members hear program presentations and make funding recommendations to the Catawba County United Way Board of Directors for approval. These funding recommendations are made solely by the Catawba County Youth Council and its panel members.

Applications are available on the web at www.ccunitedway.com/Your-United-Way/Youth-Council or you may contact John Bailey, Director of Community Impact at jbailey@ccunitedway.com or Linda Lutz, United Way Youth Council Community Investment Coordinator at 828-302-9513 or by email to llutzlulu@gmail.com.

Applications not received by March 15 will not be accepted.

Organizations selected to be considered for funding will be notified in writing by March 25. 

All grant amounts are contingent on funding recommended by the Youth Council and approved by the Catawba County United Way Board of Directors at their regularly scheduled meeting.


March 5, 2019

Corning employee Dede Starnes (left) with Sylvia Long, the Director of Resource Development at the Catawba 

County United Way (CCUW). Starnes recently donated more than a dozen used computer bags and crochetted 

hats to the CCUW. 


Corning employee finds new life for old computer bags


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Just because something is old or used doesn't mean it still can't bring some joy and find a renewed purpose with others.

This was the guiding thought for Corning employee Dede Starnes after a recent discussion with Sylvia Long, the Director of Resource Development at the Catawba County United Way (CCUW).

As the two talked about CCUW's needs, Starnes came up with the idea of finding new homes for more than a dozen old computer bags just sitting unused at work.

"I recently moved from a marketing position and have personally collected a number of promotional bags from events and industry mailings," Dede Starnes said. "We are in the midst of cleaning out our offices so I thought...hmmm, bet we all have these laying around. I hate to see things thrown out if they could make someone else’s life a little better."

She set up a collection spot in the building and encouraged her fellow employees to drop-off any of their unused computer or business bags. Starnes plans on continuing her collection through May and hopes her actions might spark similar outreach at other company sites.

She saw this as an opportunity to share another joy in her life, crocheting.

"I am considering beginning a second crochet group as a lunchtime activity at Corning," Starnes said. "I haven’t worked out all the details or gauged interest yet, but as we grow, I’m always open to ways we can better help support others."

Starnes made her first donation to the CCUW a week ago, dropping off an assortment of 14 computer and other carrying bags. She also donated 15 crocheted hats.

The CCUW plans on adding the items to the annual Stuff the Bus school supply drive held in the summer, which benefits all three school districts in the county.

"We hope other organizations would replicate this act of kindness as well," CCUW Executive Director Jennie Connor said. "Others might find this meaningful and go beyond it and help it grow in scope, becoming something bigger."

The Catawba County United Way’s mission is to increase the organized capacity of people to help others. For more information about the CCUW visit ccunitedway.com or the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page or call 828-327-6851.




Feb. 22, 2019


The first Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry Executive Director Doris Fish recently shared stories of 

the agency's early days with Thelma Sherrill the first assistant director and Nellie Barringer, ECCCM’s first volunteer. 


ECCCM celebrates 50 years of faith and service

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

“If you want to know who runs ECCCM, it’s God,” the first Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry Executive Director Doris Fish said.

At the time, she was speaking to the current executive director, the Rev. Robert Silber and two others who were right there with Fish at the very beginning of the agency 50 years ago – Thelma Sherrill the first assistant director, and Nellie Barringer, ECCCM’s first volunteer.

“I know through everything we did down there, I felt like God was behind my shoulder the whole time,” Fish said.

She and the others meet in January to talk about the agency’s history prior to ECCCM’s 50th anniversary celebration on Feb. 10, bringing representatives from the original 15 founding churches together at Grace UCC in Newton.

The mission of ECCCM, a Catawba County United Way partner agency, is to help with mortgage/rent payments, utility bills, hunger relief, transportation and financial coaching, according to ecccm.org. The agency works to extend a hand up, not a hand out.

It all began in late 1968 when Rev. Banks Shepherd received a phone call from a woman needing a new refrigerator and cook stove, according ECCCM’s website.

Something didn’t feel right about the situation, so he called other area ministers and learned the same woman had already received these appliances. Shepherd realized there should be a way to avoid duplication of services by local churches but still help those in need.

In 1969, 15 churches came together to provide a solution and created ECCCM.

Fifty years ago, the agency started with a clothing closet, a fuel (emergency) fund, assistance with rent and utilities, a counseling ministry, an emergency food distribution center and the beginning of the county’s Head Start program for children, according to ecccm.org.

While the specific needs have changed or evolved since then, the underlying reason for why ECCCM exists has not.

Silber pointed to the recent government shutdown as an example of the agency’s flexibility to provide help when needed.

“There was a whole group of people who are not used to living in a life of crisis, so we opened up ECCCM to any government worker without a paycheck,” Silber told Fish, Sherrill and Barringer. “I didn’t know how we were going to pay for it but knew God will take care of it.”

Donations eventually came in to help offset the cost of providing assistance to those affected locally by the shutdown.

Fish shared a similar story from the agency’s early days about a one woman who sought help from ECCCM after an abusive marriage. She began attending classes to learn how to be independent but got so much more.
“When she came in, she couldn’t count. She had the lowest self-esteem. She wouldn’t look at you. She wouldn’t speak to you,” Fish said. “Our volunteer would bring a bag full of coins every Thursday, and they’d count coins until she finally learned how to count money.”

Over time, with help and encouragement from ECCCM, the woman gained the life skills and confidence she needed to begin rebuilding her life. Eventually, she got a job baking biscuits at a restaurant, Fish said.

Silber told Fish, Sherrill and Barringer, moments like those helped set the bar for how much ECCCM does now.

“That’s what we want to celebrate, that this didn’t happen overnight,” Silber said.

Guests of honor at February’s 50th anniversary celebration included Eulene Shepherd, the wife of the late Rev. Banks Shepherd.

The 15 founding churches of ECCCM included: St. James Lutheran Church, Abernethy United Methodist Church, Bethany United Church of Christ, Beth Eden Lutheran Church, Smyrna United Church of Christ (now independent), First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church – Conover, First United Methodist Church – Newton, Friendship United Methodist Church, Grace United Church of Christ, Trinity United Church of Christ, McQueens Chapel United Methodist Church, Mays Chapel United Methodist Church, Mt. View United Methodist Church and Thomas Chapel AME Zion Church.

 

Feb. 11, 2019

United Way celebrates 2-1-1 help line’s impact on local communities

 

The Catawba County United Way was proud to join United Ways across North Carolina and the nation in celebrating National 2-1-1 Day this week.

This is the free, confidential information and referral system that connects callers and web visitors to health and human services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

2-1-1 helps people find resources for service needs such as food, housing, assistance with utilities, job training, information about health care providers and more.

NC 2-1-1, the North Carolina 2-1-1 system, is also a part of the State Emergency Response Team. When activated during a disaster, NC 2-1-1 becomes the public information portal for disaster related information.  

In the previous month the top three requests called in for Catawba County included: 27 for information on housing and shelter, 13 for help with utility bills and 13 for information on employment and income resources.

Residents simply dial 2-1-1 to reach a live, trained NC 2-1-1 call specialist who can connect them to local assistance. Calls to NC 2-1-1 are free and confidential, and information can be provided in most languages. NC 2-1-1’s database of more than 19,000 resources is also accessible via nc211.org for anyone wishing to self-search for organizations and programs to meet their needs.

“When you dial 2-1-1 you are connected to the best information on resources right here in Catawba County,” Executive Director for Catawba County United Way said. “Last year thousands of callers from our community turned to NC 2-1-1 for help finding assistance. We are proud to be a part of this statewide and national system that brings such a valuable service to our community.” 

NC 2-1-1 is available in all 100 North Carolina counties. In 2017, NC 2-1-1 call specialists helped more than 114,000 callers find services for more than 126,000 needs statewide. Additionally, nearly 125,000 searches for programs and resources were conducted through the web-based search tool. 

For more than 70 years, the mission of Catawba County United Way has been to increase the organized capacity of people to help others by mobilizing the caring power of the local community.

Visit ccunitedway.com and Catawba County United Way on Facebook for more information or call 828-327-6851.

 


Feb. 7, 2019


Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown talks about some of the ways his office is tackling the opioid crisis in the 

county during this month’s Project Lazarus meeting at Catawba Valley Medical Center. John Bailey/CCUW


Sheriff ready to be firm but fair with opioid crisis

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown shared his thoughts on the current opioid crisis and how his office is focused on dealing with it during February’s Project Lazarus meeting at Catawba Valley Medical Center.

He intends on taking a compassionate but firm approach.

Brown, talked about his office's involvement in the Catawba County Gang Initiative since 2010, and how it evolved into the Catawba County Safe Communities program.

“We take our most violent offenders who are currently on probation and we call them in and we say ‘okay, this is your last opportunity, this is your last bite at the apple with us,’” Brown said.

“You’re a danger to our community, but we have help for you if you choose to take that help.”

The Sheriff’s message to these individuals is clear. If they truly want to change their lives his office will do everything it can to help them get off the streets. This includes helping them battle any addictions they may have, help with getting a job and help getting housing.

“We have partners all over Catawba County who are part of this with us,” Brown said.

“If they choose not to accept the help and they commit a trigger offense, any gang activity, violent crimes, gun possessions, we’re going to fast-track them through our system.”

The Sheriff’s office will seek the toughest punishment possible.

But the hope is to reach those people who truly want the help and provide them the tools and support they need.

Brown said there is a coordinator who will walk each person through a 9 to 10-week process of getting back on their feet and away from a criminal lifestyle.

The Sheriff, a new Catawba County United Way board member, told the group he thinks everyone is affected by the opioid crisis in some way, at some point in our lives.

Overall, he thinks the county is headed in the right direction when it comes to dealing with this issue with several other programs.

He sees the STOP Act, created in 2017, as being significant part of the puzzle.

A primary goal of the STOP Act is to reduce excessive or otherwise inappropriate opioid prescribing, according to ncmedboard.org. One way the law seeks to achieve this is by imposing limits on how much opioid pain medication can be prescribed for acute pain. 

Brown is equally excited about his office being part of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (L.E.A.D.) program. It is a pre-arrest diversion program utilizing officer discretion to redirect low level drug offenders from the traditional criminal justice system and into treatment.

Pill Stoppers is another program the Sheriff is happy to see growing in the community. It provides drop-off points for expired prescription drugs.

There are ten locations at different law enforcement agencies in the county.

Since the program started, 8,357 pounds of pills have been collected with 1,739 in 2018.

More than 75 percent of all unintentional poisonings are by over-the-counter and prescription medications, according to the Sheriff’s Offices Pill Stopper web page.

Approximately 40 percent of injuries from unintentional poisoning occur in children under five years of age.

In the end, saving just one person is significant for the Sheriff and worth whatever effort it takes to change that individual’s life for the better.

Project Lazarus is focused on the goal of no overdose deaths in Catawba County. The central component of this model is community knowledge and coalitions. This includes churches, civic clubs, local leaders, law enforcement and schools.

For more information, visit Project Lazarus Catawba County Facebook page.


Jan. 23, 2019


Ann Peele (center) was recently presented with the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine award by North Carolina House of Representatives member Mitchell Setzer. Peele recently retired as the executive director of the Family Guidance Center after 44 years with the agency. She was nominated by long-time friend Jennie Connor, Catawba County United Way executive director.


Former non-profit leader presented with state’s highest award


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Ann Peele’s 40-plus years of placing the needs of local families first was recognized during the Catawba County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday.

In a surprise moment, Peele was called up from the audience and presented with the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine award by North Carolina House of Representatives member Mitchell Setzer.

"I'd like to recognize someone who's diligent work and kindness has touched the lives of so many people," Setzer said.

Prior to retiring at the end of 2018, Peele dedicated 44 years of her life working at The Family Guidance Center in Hickory, the last 35 as the agency’s executive director.

"I'm truly surprised by all of this. I had no clue, but I'm so grateful for everyone who's been part of this with me," Peele said.

Long-time friend and Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor got the idea to nominate Peele around the time Family Guidance was preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary in December.

Ann Peele has passionately grown and nurtured the Family Guidance Center into a multi-service organization serving the counseling needs of individuals and families in the county, Connor said in the application she submitted to the state. In 1996, she led the crusade to build a home to shelter victims of domestic violence.

“Ms. Peele is truly one of the most selfless contributors to society that I have personally had the pleasure to travel beside in my 18-year journey with the United Way,” Connor said.

In 1983, Joe Crocker became president of the board of directors of the Family Guidance Center. That same year Ann Peele assumed the role of executive director of the Family Guidance Center.

“I knew then that the agency was in great hands and that Ann was destined for success,” Crocker with Kate B. Reynolds said. “Over the past 35 years nothing has happened to change my mind on either of those fronts.”

Since 1959, Family Guidance, a Catawba County United Way funded partner, provides a range of specialized services for individuals and families experiencing the negative effects of anxiety, depression, divorce, stress, financial problems, domestic violence, child abuse and other issues that threaten the stability of families.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards conferred by the Governor of North Carolina and is presented to those people who have a proven record of service to the state and their communities, according to longleafpinesociety.org.

For more information about the Family Guidance Center visit fgcservices.com or call 828-322-1400.


Jan. 22, 2019


Another parent of a local teen steps up to see if they are one of 22 who drew tickets to win a free Chromebook 

from the Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas. The machine was purchased with donations from Shurtape 

Technologies and the Catawba County Library provided a digital library access card. Submitted Photo


Collaborative effort brings digital tools to 22 local teens


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Thanks to the joint efforts of Shurtape Technologies, the Catawba County United Way Teen Christmas and the Catawba County Public Library, 22 local teens, who may have gone without, now have their own Chromebook to help them meet their educational needs.

For their part, the library provided a digital access card to go with each Chromebook.

Once the students can connect wirelessly to the internet, the card provides access to thousands of information sources including movies, music, audio and ebooks.

“We are so happy that (Teen Christmas) is able to provide children with these Chromebooks, and we can help provide them with access to lots of free cool resources,” Catawba County Library Assistant Director Siobhan Loendorf said.

The students also have access to the NC Live website for school research, college entrance exam test prep, career exploration and language learning.

This was the fourth year for Shurtape and the second year for the county library, to partner with Teen Christmas and provide this combination of a computer and access to digital content.

“The beauty of this is when individuals and groups throughout the county bring resources together to meet a need, to provide the tools to enhance education and enable teens and families to reach beyond their horizons,” Teen Christmas Director Rose Arant said.  

Teen Christmas is part of the annual Christmas Bureau in December and provides new clothing, shoes and gifts for more than 300 low income teenagers in Catawba County.    

Parents with approved applications visited the fairgrounds during the event where they selected items for their teens and had an opportunity to draw for one of the 22 Chromebooks.

In addition, counselors from the three school systems identify displaced/unaccompanied, pregnant or parenting teens who are also served.

Along with Shurtape and the county library, This effort is made possible thanks to donations from churches, civic and humanitarian groups (like Rotary) and countless volunteers who see the importance of remembering teenagers during the holiday season, Arant said. One hundred percent of donations are used to provide gifts for the teens.

For more information about Teen Christmas, contact the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851.


Jan. 14, 2019


2-1-1 resources ready to help those impacted by shutdown

 

The impact of the federal government shutdown is beginning to be felt across the country and North Carolina.

Nearly 34,000 civilian federal workers in the state, out of the more than 800,000 nationwide, did not receive their most recent paychecks.

The United Way’s helpline, 2-1-1 and specifically North Carolina’s UW 2-1-1 is prepared to be a resource for those families and individuals impacted by the shutdown.

North Carolina 2-1-1 call specialists have information about national resources being shared at http://211.org/services/govshutdown as well as other local resources within the 2-1-1 resource database. 

Locally, Catawba County United Way funded partner Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM) in Newton is providing assistance to families and individuals affected by the shutdown, including food and financial help with paying a bill.

To receive assistance with food, persons simply need to come to ECCCM and show their government ID. They will receive a 30-day supply of food for their entire household.

To receive financial assistance with a bill, persons will need their government ID plus the documents required for any financial assistance application as detailed here: https://www.ecccm.org/crisis-programs/.

For more information contact ECCCM at (828) 465-1702 or www.ecccm.org. Services are available Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Family Guidance Center in Hickory can also provide financial counseling for those affected by the shutdown. Call 828-322-1400 or visit www.fgcservices.com for more information.

Specific to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the NC 2-1-1 system currently has information on how the government is handling this and other services.

To protect SNAP participants’ access for February, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual, according to the USDA website, www.fns.usda.gov/.  

The USDA will be reaching out to states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. 

States will have until Jan. 20 to request and implement the early issuance. Once the early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time. 

The USDA has also ensured the other major nutrition assistance programs have sufficient funding to continue operations into February, according the agency’s website.

The child nutrition programs, including school meals and after-school programs have funding available to continue operations through March.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has prior year funding which USDA will begin to provide states this week to facilitate February benefits.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America are two of United Way’s closest corporate partners offering support to those affected as well. Wells Fargo will waive fees for customers who have direct deposit from the federal government, or at the customer’s request, and will offer short and long-term assistance for those who need extra time to make payments.

Bank of America is offering personalized financial assistance through its Client Assistance Program. 

Remember to call 2-1-1 or visit http://211.org/services/govshutdown for more updates on these issues.

 

Jan. 8, 2019


Several desks and office chairs get a quick clean-off before being sent to the 25th Judicial District Juvenile Offices. 

It’s one of several donations of office supplies and furniture by Shurtape to local non-profits.


Used furniture finds new life with non-profits


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Stretching a penny is an important skill for non-profits, and they always welcome any opportunity to get needed tools to do their job, especially if it doesn’t impact their budget.

Agencies in Catawba County recently shared in one of these moments.

Towards the end of 2018, Shurtape Technologies was busy with renovations and remodeling and had a warehouse load of office supplies it didn’t need any more. The company decided to see if it could find new homes for the items and reached out to the Catawba County United Way to help get the word out to local non-profits.

Everything from a 20-foot conference table to executive style desks to storage cabinets to paintings to book shelves to coat racks were up for grabs.

“We love all the items we received especially the desks,” Martha Gantt, CFO of the Aids Leadership Foothill Area Alliance said.

The agency was able to replace a pair of aging desks with newer ones along with getting a round work table, book cases and several chairs.

For Adult Life Programs, the access to several board room tables allowed the agency to repurpose current space into a new programing site to meet the needs of its growing number of clients. It was something they’ve wanted to do for some time, but until this opportunity presented itself, they didn’t have the resources.

“This is really about being able to make even more of a difference for the individuals we serve every day,” the agency’s Executive Director Mark Bumgarner said.

It was good timing for the Catawba County Library as well.

The library has been busy building up new programs and needed a way to keep up with its growing amount of marketing items, supplies and catalogs. With the recent launch of the Library to Go mobile branch, there was a need to equip an office for the new librarian overseeing the project.

“We’re now much better organized, and our work spaces are much better aligned with the tasks we’re charged with carrying out,” Kelly Sigmon, the library’s community engagement specialist said.

“We’re also thrilled to be taking advantage of an enormous white board to plan Summer Learning programs, work through our strategic planning tasks, and help with internal meetings.”

There were several other local non-profits who benefited including, but not limited to: Community Ridge Day Care, Hickory Downtown Development, Greater Hickory Christian Ministry, 25th Judicial District Juvenile Officers, Safe Harbor, Adult Life and the Hickory Museum of Art.

Shurtape’s Corporate Facilities Manager Aaron Cronin coordinated the pick-up times for the agencies.

For more information about the Catawba County United Way visit ccunitedway.com.


Jan. 3, 2019






















Major Reed Baer, Deputy Chief of Police of the Hickory Police Department along with HPD caseworker Wesley 

Rogers, recently talked about the new L.E.A.D. program during the Project Lazarus meeting. 


Local law enforcement focused on treatment over arrests


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

While attending this month’s Project Lazarus meeting at Catawba Valley Medical Center, I heard a phrase that immediately caught my attention.

“You cannot arrest your way out of a drug addiction problem.”

This was said by Major Reed Baer, Deputy Chief of Police of the Hickory Police Department, during a presentation he and HPD caseworker Wesley Rogers made about the new Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (L.E.A.D.) program.

“We started looking at overdoses the last couple of years, heroine, opioids all around the country. Here in the city limits of Hickory, we saw tripling in the calls of overdoses,” Baer said.

Seven months ago, the Hickory Police Department decided the L.E.A.D. program was how they wanted to deal with the growing crisis of addiction.

This strategy is a fundamental shift for a growing number of law enforcement agencies across the country. It puts the emphasis on providing a pathway to recovery rather than a ride to jail.

This subject was significant to me because since joining the Catawba County United Way last July, I’ve seen – through client stories from our funded partners – how important any kind of intervening program can be.

The L.E.A.D. pre-arrest diversion program utilizes officer discretion to redirect low level drug offenders from the traditional criminal justice system and into treatment.

Individuals who have been diverted into the L.E.A.D. program have 14 days to complete a full clinical assessment in order to be connected to services, Baer said. If they fail to complete this requirement then they will be charged with their original offense and put into the criminal justice system. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 77 percent of drug offenders are rearrested for drug offenses.

When he was younger officer, the major remembers arresting the same person three times in one shift. The hope is those individuals diverted into treatment because of L.E.A.D. will be able to return to their community and remain productive citizens.

For Rogers, the issue is personal. He’s had members of his own family battle addiction. He challenges the community to be more involved in reaching out to those who need help. The caseworker believes some people just need a chance and the right opportunities to get back on their feet.

“I worked with a homeless couple in Newton living in a tent with an addiction problem, who lost their children to DSS,” Rogers said. “They’ve been clean for a hundred and forty days now, and they’re getting ready to get a three-bedroom house and get their kids back.”

His goal every day is to convince those in need there is hope, and he is not going to quit on them.

“I tell them to do everything. We’ll try it all and whatever we can figure out works for them is what we’re going to do for them,” Rogers said. “I tell them they don’t have to necessarily be clean to keep talking to me. I want them to call me when they’re high because that’s when you need somebody to talk to.”

The participating local law enforcement agencies involved with L.E.A.D. include Hickory, Newton, Conover, Maiden and Claremont police departments along with the Catawba County Sheriff’s office.

Other partners include: Partners Behavioral Health, Catawba Valley Behavioral Health and the local District Attorney’s office.

Visit the Hickory Police Department website for more information.

Project Lazarus is focused on the goal of no overdose deaths in Catawba County. The central component of this model is community knowledge and coalitions. This includes churches, civic clubs, local leaders, law enforcement and schools.

The next meeting is Feb. 7, 8 a.m., at the Catawba Valley Medical Center with Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown as the speaker.

 

Jan. 2, 2019


Reaching out to help the homeless

 

Housing Visions Continuum of Care is preparing to conduct the annual count of homeless individuals in Catawba County this January.

The purpose is to collect data that identifies gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed. The count will take place on Jan. 31.

During the count process, homeless individuals and families are provided with some much-needed items which are collected from the community. Donations need to be in by Jan. 28.

These items include: batteries, combs/brushes, feminine hygiene products, gloves, backpacks (gently used or new), flashlights, socks and toboggans/knitted caps.

Monetary donations can be made to the Catawba County United Way. Include “homeless initiatives” in the memo section. One hundred percent of the donations go to the homeless initiatives through the Housing Visions Continuum of Care.

Items can be dropped off at the Catawba County United Way located at 2760 Tate Blvd. in Hickory, 828-327-6851, or at

Partners Behavioral Health Management at 1985 Tate Blvd. SE in Hickory, 828-323-8084.

For more information contact Teena Willis at Partners Behavioral Health Management, twillis@partnersbhm.org or Jennifer Clark at Family Care Center, jclark@familycare-center.org, 828-324-9917.


 

Dec. 28, 2018


Nearly 100 local volunteers signed up to help with this year's Catawba County Christmas Bureau.


2018 Christmas Bureau impacts thousands of children


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


It was another busy December for more than two dozen local agencies and businesses involved in the annual Catawba County Christmas Bureau.

They pooled their resources to help over 500 Catawba County families in need, and in total, they served 1,185 children this year.

The Catawba County Christmas Bureau is a collaborative effort to provide toys, clothing and coats to children and teenagers in need of assistance during the Christmas season.

The event serves children from birth through age 17, and families must be residents of Catawba County.

Gifts are distributed at the American Legion Fairgrounds in Hickory.

This year’s partners included Hickory Public Schools, Hickory Daily Record, Catawba County Schools, Catawba Co. Partnership for Children, Catawba County United Way, Catawba Co. Department of Social Services, Catawba County Sheriff’s Dept., The Salvation Army, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Safe Kids Catawba County, Newton-Conover City Schools, City of Hickory Fire Department, Fire Departments assisting bike assembly and the Marine Toys for Tots.

This year’s sponsors included American Legion Fairgrounds, A Signco, Hamrick Memorial Foundation, Century Furniture, Cosmo Motors, Hendrick Honda, McDonalds, Shurtape Technologies LLC, WHKY, Patrick Beaver Foundation, WNNC, Pepsi-Cola Bottling, Participating Local Churches, Participating Dry Cleaners, participating sites for Toys for Tots collection, participating sites in Angel Tree Drive.

Along with all the agencies involved, nearly 100 local volunteers came out to help families shop for their items.

Visit ccunitedway.com to see more photos and learn more about this and other United Way events.

 

 

Dec. 20, 2018


Susan Estes, a teacher at Conover School, is this year's Catawba County United  Way Fair Share Donor Car 

Giveaway winner. John Bailey/CCUW


Local educator wins United Way car giveaway

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

 

The Catawba County United Way announced this year’s Fair Share Donor Car Giveaway winner on Dec. 19, during the annual event at Paramount Automotive Group in Hickory.

The winner was Susan Estes, a teacher at Conover School.

Employees of companies participating in this year’s Catawba Co. United Way campaign who were Fair Share Donors, (1 hour pay per month) went into 10 drawings starting in September for a chance at being a finalist to win either a Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra or Volkswagen Jetta.

The tradition was started seven years ago when Benny Yount, owner of Paramount Automotive, decided he would support the annual Catawba County United Way campaign as a means to give back to his hometown.

He knows the value of non-profits in a community first hand. During the event, Yount shared the story of how the Salvation Army brought his family a box of food during Christmas and the impact that kindness had on him as a child.

“I read something the other day that there’s almost forty million people in this country who go hungry every night, and I doubt any of us in this room went to bed hungry last night,” Yount said. “We got so much to be thankful for and we’re thankful for the United Way and the many organizations they support and all the things those organizations do to help people.”

While there is the obvious excitement around giving away a brand-new car, the true highlight of the event is the awareness it helps bring to the mission of the United Way.

Overall, the Catawba County United Way’s work is focused on the building blocks for a good life: education, income and health.

Locally, donor gifts help fund mentoring programs for at-risk youth, provide shelter for the homeless, provide crisis assistance counseling for families, provide sexual assault services, emergency and disaster services, breast health education, support for Meals on Wheels and education on sexually transmitted diseases and Hep C.

Like Yount, Estes believes in giving back to her community and has been a United Way donor for several years.

“I’ve had some of my family members who’ve had to use local programs and I just think it’s a good cause,” Estes said. “I like helping people in need.”

This year’s 10 finalists included: Parkes King from Jenkins Elementary, Susan Estes from Conover School, Michael Motley from Shurtape, Nancy Williams from Catawba Co. DSS, Vinod Akinepally from Shurtape, Renee Roberts from City of Hickory, Susan Hardman from Peoples Bank, John Reid from CertainTeed, Robert Cade from HSM and Pa Lee from Century Furniture.

The drawings were done each week by Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs.

The 2018 guest check sponsors include Catawba Valley Medical Center, Shurtape, Piedmont Natural Gas, PNC Bank and Pepsi Cola Bottling Company.

The nine finalists who didn’t win a car received special gifts donated by Catawba Valley Medical, Duke Energy, Dr. Keith Mackie and Family, Martin Starnes CPA, Morphis Law & Mediation, Peoples Bank, Russell Isenhour & Associates, Dwayne Welch and Family and BB&T.

The vision of the Catawba County United Way is to be the most effective and efficient organization that identifies and prioritizes the greatest unmet human needs in the community, focuses human compassion and mobilizes resources to meet those needs.

The Catawba County United Way is located at 2760 Tate Blvd in Hickory.

For more information call 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com. Also visit the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page.

 

Dec. 4, 2018


Family Guidance Center Executive Director Ann Peele looks through the agency’s scrapbook, remembering years of 
the staff working to improve the lives of local families. The center celebrated its 60th anniversary on Dec. 5. 

Family Guidance celebrates 60 years of providing a circle of support

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

Catawba County United Way

 

It’s probably a moment every therapist hopes never to experience, a client threatening to kill themselves.

For Ann Peele, the moment came in 1982 while on staff at the Family Guidance Center (FGC) in Hickory. A 15-year-old girl wasn’t dealing well with her parent’s divorce, quickly spiraling into a deep depression. She became resentful of her mother and eventually everyone else.

The girl would go entire sessions at Family Guidance without even speaking. Then at one session she locked herself in the bathroom.

“She said she was going to take pills, she was going to kill herself,” Peele said. “I was able to talk her down and bring her back out, and we hospitalized her for a brief time.”

Peele reminded the teen there were always paths of hope, and the Family Guidance Center staff would always be there to help.

This is the kind of community impact and legacy of service, the Family Guidance Center celebrated its 60th anniversary on Dec. 5 at the Lake Hickory Country Club.

Established in 1959, the center started as a family counseling agency by community leaders and the Hickory Service League, according to fgcservices.com. As needs changed, it evolved into a multi-services agency.

In addition to individual and family counseling, other programs now include domestic violence services, a shelter for battered women, sexual assault services, consumer credit/housing counseling services and a Nurturing Adolescents program.

Originally, Family Guidance focused on individual and family counseling. In the 1970s, the state decided every county should have a mental health center, and the county urged Family Guidance to expand and provide those services. The new entity came under the name Family Mental Health Services.

Then in the 80s, Family Guidance Center broke off and became a standalone agency again. Peele said one reason for the split was because FGC was beginning to lose its identity as a private non-profit.

The next significant change to the agency was the addition of a shelter for battered women.

Peele has been the executive director since 1983 and describes Family Guidance Center, a Catawba County United Way funded partner since the 1960's, as a circle of support.

“It takes a lot of guts to come into a place and say you need help,” Peele said. “They may be seeing a therapist and begin to trust us, so when they disclose to their therapist they’re having financial problems, it’s not difficult to say let’s just walk across the hall and talk to our financial counselor.”

The consumer credit program was born out of the financial problems the country faced in the 1970s. More recently, Family Guidance Center helped more than 160 families stay in their homes during the 2008 recession.

Even though the economy has rebounded in recent years, the FGC staff has learned to stay vigilant.

“We’re seeing an increase in the use of credit cards again,” Peele said. “We’re finding people are still doing the same things they were doing before the recession. They’re charging up to their eye balls, so we know what’s going to happen there.”

To stay ahead of this problem, Family Guidance is refocusing on its debt management program to help families pay off their debts and get financially stable.

Peele is looking to retire at the end of this year, but she’s thankful for all those individuals and families she’s helped, including the teen who tested her so many years ago. 

Eventually through counseling, the girl accepted her parent’s divorce and Peele continued to work with the teen, earning the girl’s trust.

Their relationship came full circle seven years later when the girl, then a mother herself, went back to Family Guidance looking for some family counseling advice for her and her husband on being brand new parents.

“She said she came back because this was the place where she was accepted. This was where she found a reason to live,” Peele said.

Family Guidance is all about building trust and Peele knows the staff will continue to succeed one life at a time for another 60 years and beyond.

For more information about Family Guidance Center, visit fgcservices.com or call 828-322-1400.

 

Nov. 21, 2018

The Catawba County United Way has its vintage 1920s sleigh set up at the Hickory Furniture Mart, 2220 Highway 

70 SE, as a toys drop-off point for this year’s Christmas Bureau.

 

Local non-profits and businesses work together to bring some holiday cheer


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


While many of us count our blessings as we shop for the perfect spiral ham or a Christmas tree, it’s a good time to start thinking about having an impact in our community by helping those who may be struggling this year.

One way to do this is to support the 2018 Christmas Bureau.

The Catawba County Christmas Bureau is a collaborative effort by several Catawba County agencies and organizations focused on letting local families in need know they are not alone.

The Bureau pools its resources to provide toys, clothing and coats to children and teenagers during the Christmas season.

The Salvation Army of Hickory is one of the agencies who collect the items directly, using the Angel Trees. They can be found at all the area Walmart Super Stores and in Valley Hills Mall.

The Angel cards are available as well any time at The Salvation Army’s administration office – 750 Third Avenue Place SE in Hickory off Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard – and there are stockings available at the office to pick up, fill and bring back.

The Salvation Army’s goal is to provide every child with at least two gifts and an outfit through help from the community, Hickory Salvation Army Captain Bethany Delaney said.

The Catawba County United Way also has its vintage 1920s sleigh set up at the Hickory Furniture Mart, 2220 Highway 70 SE. It is another toys drop-off point for this year’s Christmas Bureau. The sleigh will be at the site from Nov. 19 to Dec. 14.

The local U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program collects for the Christmas Bureau and the Hickory Police Department’s Cops for Tots campaign.

However, the coordinating officer for the local Toys for Tots, Derek Dawson, said the group never turns down requests from an orphanage, school or social organization where under privileged children need of toys for Christmas.  

“Our motto is every child deserves a little Christmas and our mission is to make that happen,” Dawson said in an email to the Catawba Co. United Way.

Visit https://hickory-nc.toysfortots.org/ for the nearest Toys for Tots drop-off site.

The Salvation Army also sponsors a coat drive for the Christmas Bureau.

The cleaners they use as drop-off points for the Coats for Kids drive are:

A Cleaner World - 1009 2nd St. NE in Hickory,

Highland Cleaning Center - 1031 16th St. NE in Hickory,

Kelley's Village Cleaners - 232 S. Main Ave. in Newton

Professional Cleaners - 133 3rd St. NW in Hickory,

Quality Cleaners & Laundry - 2643 NC-127 in Hickory,

Wyke's Cleaners - 1413 2nd St. NE in Hickory,

Wyke's Cleaners - Hwy 127 S in Hickory,

Modern Cleaners  - 113 E B St. in Newton,

CV Cleaners - 508-1 10th St. NW in Conover.

There are drop-off spots as well at Valley Hills Mall in Hickory and at local schools.

For more information visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/hickory/ or call 828-322-8061. You can also call the Catawba County United Way’s office at 828-327-6851.


 

Nov. 13, 2018


Major Steptoe shares his story of living homeless in Hickory and finding hope at the Hickory Soup Kitchen.

 

Hungry and homeless, looking for a hand up


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


For the last four months Major Steptoe, 58, has been homeless in Hickory, bouncing from shelters to the streets.

In that time, he’s had to have seven of his teeth pulled and had a bout with pneumonia. He’s slept in the rain, in the cold but he still has a reason to smile – the Hickory Soup Kitchen.

It’s important to have at least one person believe in you, and he said he’s found several at the soup kitchen.

“Keep your donations coming because it provides a lot of hot meals, clothing and it provides hope for people who feel like they’re on their last footing in life,” he said.

Steptoe is one of many homeless in Catawba County and an example of why the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness started Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in 1975.

Their goal was to raise awareness of these issues across the country the week prior to Thanksgiving and inspire more people to get involved in trying to help, according to hhweek.org.

“Nobody deserves to feel hopeless…but some people just don’t care. They stick their nose up at you and look at you like you’re trash,” Steptoe said. “We’re all human. God put us here to love one another, help one another.”

In Catawba County there are many resources like the Hickory Soup Kitchen who help create an immediate bridge between needs and resources.

Then there is the Housing Visions Continuum of Care group made up of several local agencies and programs who address the overall picture of hunger and homelessness in the county.

One of these agencies is the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). It deals with helping those in need find affordable housing, an issue their addressing this Thursday with its annual Landlord Information Workshop.

The housing market has changed considerably in recent years. Regional Housing Authority Specialist Kala Guido has seen the number of people who get a housing voucher compared to the number who actually use them decrease in the last four years. The numbers have gone from 34 percent to 15 percent.

“A lot of the times the reason they’re not submitting any paperwork on where to live is because they can’t find something affordable or they can’t find someone who accepts a voucher at all,” Guido said.

There are 1,074 vouchers allocated this year for all four counties.

Guido said the problem is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) hasn’t increased its standards in several years while the fair market rent has gone up.

It’s hard to ask someone to rent their unit for $800 when their mortgage is $850.

One way the WPCOG works to increase the number of landlords and renting agencies who accept Section 8 housing choice vouchers is through its landlord workshop. For more information call 828-485-4282.

Between the four counties, the housing authority pays between 500 and 600 landlords every month.

Last year, more than 8,000 calls were placed to the United Way’s 2-1-1 community help line asking for information about low-cost housing and more than 11,000 calls were made about shelters, according to nc.211counts.org.

To help understand the scope of the issue in the county, the Housing Visions Continuum of Care is preparing to conduct the annual count of homeless individuals. It’s an attempt at collecting data to identify gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed, according to a Housing Visions release. 

During the process, homeless individuals and families are provided with some much-needed items which are collected from the community. For more information about making a donation, call the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851 or Partners Behavioral Health Management at 828-323-8084.

According to last year’s count, there were 283 homeless individuals living in the county.

Steptoe doesn’t hesitate to explain how he got to where he is, living on the streets. He had a drug problem that took control of his life. He admits there were times when he felt like throwing in the towel, but he found help.

It was just a month ago when he walked past a local church one evening and it was having a service on exposing your inner enemies and something compelled him to go to the church and dedicate his life to Christ.

“Don’t treat me like a piece of dirt. I may be dirty but I’m not a piece of dirt,” he said. “I greet everybody with a smile and a kind of word. You never know but that kind word at that moment may uplift that person and give them hope.”

LOCAL RESOURCES

Food Pantries

DSS Meals on Wheels:828-695-5610

Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry: 828-327-0979

Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministries: 828-465-1702

Good Samaritan Food Pantry – Mt. Pisgah Church: 828-495-8251

Crisis Pantry – Women’s Resource Center: 828-322-6333

Christian Community Outreach Ministries (by appointment only): 828-328-1803

Sherrills Ford Community Food Pantry and Clothes Closet: 828-478-9625 

Hot Meals

Salvation Army – Shelter of Hope, breakfast and dinner: 828-322-8061

Hickory Soup Kitchen: 828-327-4828

The Corner Table Soup Kitchen (Newton): 828-464-0355

Safe Harbor Rescue Mission (women and children only): 828-326-7233

Highways and Hedges Ministry:  twice monthly dinner meeting with a gospel message and distribution of free groceries or toiletries/cleaning supplies, 828-781-8095/highwaysandhedgesnc.com

Shelters

Salvation Army: 828-322-8061

Family Guidance Center (domestic violence shelter for women):  828-228-1787

Safe Harbor Rescue Mission (day only/women and children only): 828-326-7233

Exodus Homes (men or women exiting treatment programs or prison): 828-324-4870

Sipe’s Orchard Home (homeless teens): 828-256-5056

Affordable Housing

Western Piedmont Council of Governments (HUD Section 8): 828-322-9191

Family Care Center (families with children/emergency and transitional residential program): 828-324-9917 or fcchickory.org.

National Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-424-3838

City of Hickory Public Housing Authority: 828-328-5373

NC Housing Search: www.nchousingsearch.org

General Help Line: United Way, dial 2-1-1 or visit NC211.org

 

Nov. 6, 2018


Volunteers who helped with this year's Giving from the Heart Volunteer Awards, from left: Linda Wright, Patsy 

Carver, Diane Hawn, Peggy Townsend and Alverta Stephens. John Bailey/CCUW


United Way recognizes volunteers who give from the heart


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

From mentoring local students, to feeding the hungry and homeless, to providing emotional support where it’s needed the most, volunteers are the backbone of any community.

Every year the Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center encourages local non-profits, not-for-profits, churches, individuals and local businesses to shine a light on some of their most impactful volunteers through the annual Giving from the Heart awards, held at the Catawba Country Club in Newton.

This year’s winners included: Individual Volunteer – Paul Loftin, nominated by Senior Nutrition Services; Group Volunteer – Augustine Literacy Project tutors, nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center and Youth Volunteer – Alex Fisher, nominated by The Corner Table.

There were a total of 20 individuals, six groups and five youth nominated for their work.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” Hickory Soup Kitchen Director Austin Pearce said of the volunteers at his agency.

Pearce nominated David Blodgett this year, pointing out Blodgett’s unwavering dedication to helping others, a common trait in all the 2018 nominees.

“When you need him the most, he’s always there,” Pearce said.

Overall, he said his volunteers all have “skin in the game” and a sense of ownership in the mission of the soup kitchen.

“They inspire me and the staff to take what we do and push it to another level, moving forward every day,” Pearce said.

The 2018 Giving from the Heart individual nominees include: Marian Baer – nominated by Family Guidance Center, Gayle Barnwell – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, David Blogett – nominated by Hickory Soup Kitchen, Cindy Boger – nominated by Council on Adolescents, Bruce Deese – nominated by Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Kelly Fulcher – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Thomas Griffis – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Gail Hildebran – nominated by Historical Association of Catawba County, Becky Less – nominated by Children’s Advocacy & Protection Council, Paul Loftin – nominated by Senior Nutrition Services, Stephanie Logan – nominated by Hickory Public Schools, Chrisanne Mitchell – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Janice Poovey – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Darlene Sanders – nominated by Exodus Homes, Jerri Sherril – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Deana Simmons – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Charles Stinnett – nominated by Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, John Watts – nominated by Catawba County Partnership for Children, Jimmy “Cowboy” Weaver – nominated by The Corner Table Soup Kitchen and Alice Williams – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center.

Group nominees include: Alvin and Debbie Benge – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Augustine Literacy Project Tutors – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Hickory Police Department – nominated by Council on Adolescents of Catawba County, Lenoir Rhyne University Athletics – nominated by Council on Adolescents of Catawba County, Lisa and Will Johnson – nominated by Catawba County 4-H and Woodlawn Baptist Church Student Ministry – nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission.

Youth nominees include: Alex Fisher – nominated by The Corner Table, Joanna Kanupp - nominated by Cooperative Extension 4-H, Tessa Phelps - nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Jasmine Thao - nominated by Safe Harbor Rescue Mission and Alexy Trott - nominated by Centro Latino.

The 2018 NC Governor’s Medallion nominees from Catawba County were recognized: Youth Category – Katherine Ellis; Individual – Debra Farrer; Goup – ECCCM Food Pantry volunteers and Lifetime Achievement – J. Don Coleman, nominated by Hickory Choral Society.

This year’s guest speaker was Maggi Woods, a policy and program manager at the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University.

Sponsors for 2018 include Premier Partner – Piedmont Natural Gas, Gold Partner – Peoples Bank, Silver Partner – Century, Bronze Partner – Rink & Robinson Certified Public Accountants and Consultants.

 

 

Oct. 26, 2018

Renee Neal, CVCC Student Advocacy Response Team director, introduces the guest speakers at a Family Guidance 

Center’s First Step Domestic Violence Program. Back from left: Director of the FGC’s Sexual Assault Program Britnee 

Varguson, District Court Judge Amy Walker and Superior Court Assistant District Attorney Jamie Adams. Not pictured: 

LaWanda Brown, Interim Executive Director for the Family Guidance Center. John Bailey/Catawba Co. United Way


Round-table discussion shines light on domestic violence awareness

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

Listening to a 9-1-1 recording of a crying six-year-old girl describing how her step-father was beating her mother suddenly pushed the issue of domestic violence beyond a stack of facts and figures for the audience at Catawba Valley Community College on Oct. 24.

The round-table discussion was part of an October domestic violence awareness month event organized by Family Guidance Center’s First Step Domestic Violence Program.

Guest speakers included: Renee Neal, CVCC Student Advocacy Center; District Court Judge Amy Walker; Jamie Adams, Superior Court Assistant District Attorney; LaWanda Brown, Interim Executive Director for the Family Guidance Center (FGC) and Britnee Varguson, Director of the FGC’s Sexual Assault Program.

The 9-1-1 call Brown played for the audience illustrated the point she wanted to make about hidden victims of domestic violence, children.

“They might not have been directly assaulted, but they’re certainly secondary to the trauma,” Brown said.

Last year, 1,548 new clients were helped by the First Step Program with staff responding to 2,116 crisis calls overall, according to a FGC report.

The program kept 147 women and children safe in its domestic violence shelter with 80 percent of shelter residents eventually exiting into safe homes.

In 2017, there were 79 domestic violence related deaths in North Carolina with two in Catawba County, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

While physical violence is the most obvious side of this issue, Brown said emotional abuse is equally damaging.

She described what is known as “gas lighting,” where the abuser tricks the victim into distrusting his or her own memory or perceptions, making them easier to control.

“It’s a slow grooming situation where that power is taken by one partner over the other,” Brown said. “Sometimes it can blindside the other partner.”

Judge Walker knew what domestic violence looked like first-hand. She had a high school friend who died in a murder-suicide.

She and Brown have worked together for years to help judges have as much information as possible when somebody is arrested in Catawba County, and a bond is going to be set.

“We want to know whether or not a person has a history of being violent,” Walker said. We want to know whether or not there is a pending civil protective order or if there is a pending custody case.”

These help a judge avoid letting someone out who is dangerous.

“We’re not a perfect system, but we’re working on it,” Walker said.

She explained a Civil Protective Order is an important step in helping shield victims financially and emotionally and separating them from their abuser, but it has its limitations.

“It doesn’t stop bullets. It doesn’t stop bats,” Walker said.
This is why she stressed the importance of having a safety plan for anyone preparing to seek this kind of action. It would include having a safe place to go, having a support system through agencies like Family Guidance and knowing where shelters are located.

Assistant District Attorney Adams said she was surprised by what she learned during her time in Mecklenburg County where she sat on the domestic violence fatality review team.

“One thing that was really astonishing to me, is the majority of the time, there were more people who knew about the nature of that relationship than just the abuser and the victim,” Adams said. “Nobody said a thing, nobody acted as a resource.”

A mistake some people make is thinking an abuser can be spotted easily. Adams said she’s heard victims describe their abuser as a charming, amazing and thoughtful person.

“Gradually, things take a terrible turn and before they know it, they look around and they’re in an extremely abusive relationship,” Adams said.

Some red flags she told the audience they could look for in someone who could be abusive include: controlling household finances, isolating the victim from friends and family and play fighting.

“What an abuser is doing in their mind when they do that is thinking about the limits they’re able to push with you,” Adams said.

The one fact everyone on the panel stressed to the audience was domestic violence can happen to anyone.

The FGC will host its annual candlelight vigil on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Discovery Church in Newton to celebrate survivors and remember victims of domestic violence.

The Family Guidance Center, a Catawba County United Way funded partner, provides support to families and children in times of stress. Founded in 1958 as a counseling agency, it has evolved into a multi-services agency. Visit fgcservices.com for more information.

 

Oct. 22, 2018


The Catawba County United Way recently helped Shurtape Technologies donate a dozen Automated External 

Defibrillators by connecting the Hickory company with Adult Life Programs. Pictured: Mark Bumgarner, executive 

director of Adult Life; Meghan Lawton, director of development; Deb Hill Adult Life board member and Rick Kilpatrick, 

Shurtape safety manager.


Shurtape donates a dozen AEDs to Adult Life


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Peace of mind is what Adult Life Programs’ Executive Director Mark Bumgarner said he and his staff recently got when they received the gift of 12 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) from Shurtape Technologies.

“We serve a number of very medically fragile and medically vulnerable persons. We actually recognized some time ago, we needed the type of infrastructure that AEDs provide, and we could only afford one unit,” Bumgarner said.

The reality was they wanted to have enough AEDs for all three centers (Conover, Maiden, Hickory) and spread them out among its fleet of 14 passenger vans used to transport between 190 and 200 clients a week. The AED units can cost more than $1,200 each.

The devices will complement the Adult Life staff’s CPR training they already receive.

The agency’s programs provide a safe, supportive environment through a variety of activities for individuals, 18 or older, who generally cannot be left at home alone during the day. 

The Catawba County United Way (CCUW) helped connect Shurtape with Adult Life, a CCUW funded partner, when the Hickory company decided to look for a new home for its one dozen Physio-Control LIFEPAK 500 AEDs. Shurtape Technologies manufactures adhesive tape and consumer home and office products.

Safety Manager Rick Kilpatrick said Shurtape had an opportunity this year to upgrade and replace all its existing units.

Kilpatrick said the AED is one of the best tools to have in case of a cardiac arrest, and it’s one anyone can use in an emergency.

“It gets the rhythm of the heart back into its normal rhythm and typically allows the individual to have a recovery they might not have without that immediate response,” Kilpatrick said.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S with more than 350,000 people expected to suffer from it this year, according to redcross.org. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10 percent.

“While many of our participants may not have specific cardiac conditions, they have other conditions that compromise their heart,” Bumgarner said.

Adult Life Programs provide services to individuals with a disability of any kind such as cerebral palsy or Down Syndrome, accident victims, the elderly, Alzheimer/dementia patients and adults who are socially isolated.

“As other United Way agencies will tell you, we are dependent on support from the community to really accomplish our mission, so this kind of connection the United Way gave us, to a company that wanted to invest in their community, is vital to the well-being of our participants,” Bumgarner said.

For more information about Adult Life, visit adultlifeprograms.com or call 828-326-9120.


 


Oct. 16, 2018

 


Family Guidance educates public during domestic violence awareness month

 

Throughout the month of October, Family Guidance Center’s First Step Domestic Violence Program holds several events and educational activities to help increase the awareness and understanding of this issue.

Last year, 1,548 new clients were helped by the First Step Program with staff responding to 2,116 crisis calls overall, according to a Family Guidance report.

The program kept 147 women and children safe in its domestic violence shelter with 80 percent of shelter residents eventually exiting into safe homes.

Family Guidance Center, a Catawba County United Way funded partner, kicked off the month’s activities with a special event on Oct.9 on the lawn of the center’s main office in Hickory.

The Center revealed the purple purse designed by Serena Williams to be used throughout the month in conjunction with the annual Allstate Purple Purse Challenge.

It unites nonprofits in a competition to raise funds for life-changing services to help domestic violence survivors, according to purplepurse.com.

At present, over 260 domestic violence programs nationwide are involved in the challenge.

Family Guidance Center’s First Step Services include a Crisis Line, shelter, court advocacy, support and advocacy, lethality assessment, safety planning, legal aid assistance, case management, domestic violence classes, address confidentiality program, individual therapy and an abuser intervention program. 

All the services to victims are at no charge.

Upcoming FGC events:

Oct. 20 – Blue Jean Ball at Lake Hickory Country Club with food, music, silent auction, cash bar. Cost: $50/person.

 

Oct. 24 – Domestic Violence Roundtable at Catawba Valley Community College, starting at 12 p.m., this will be a panel discussion about domestic violence and related legal issues. Free to the public.

 

Oct. 30 – Annual Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigil at Discovery Church on Startown Rd. Begins at 7 p.m. Names of the 2017 homicide in North Carolina will be read by Hal Rowe of WHKY. A $5 donation requested to cover desserts for everyone.

For more information about any of the provided services, call the Family Guidance Center at 828-322-1400 or the crisis line at 828-228-1787 or visit fgservices.com.



Oct. 15, 2018

The boys’ teams celebrate a break in the rain before starting their race at the Catawba County United Way Cross 

Country Invitational in Newton. Visit ccunitedway.com for more photos from the event.

 

Students compete and give back at cross country meet


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


There was no stopping the rain or the runners during this year’s Catawba Co. United Way Cross Country Invitational at Southside Park in Newton last week.

With 28 teams and more than 600 athletes registered, it was the 26th year of the event.

Michael Zapherson from T.C. Roberson was the top runner in the boys 5K championship race with a time of 15.43.47 while Jonna Strange from North Iredell scored the top time for the girls, with 18:56.08 in their 5K championship.

T.C. Roberson dominated the team side of the standings as well finishing first in the boys’ and girls’ championship rounds.

Visit https://nc.milesplit.com/meets/327657/info#.W79kcHtKiUk for complete results from the meet.

While this was an athletic competition, its other focus was on encouraging the young competitors to find ways to positively impact their community with service projects.

Teams took part in everything from community clean-up projects to helping at local soup kitchens. Hickory High decided to start a project they plan on continuing long after the invitational, collecting books in Spanish for grades K-12.

For event organizer, John Hall, the projects have been the center of the event, “emphasizing good life values.”

The projects were judged, and this year’s winners were Patton High (1st) $250, North Iredell (2nd) $150 and Hickory High (3rd) $100.

This year’s guest speaker, Dean Otto, offered an inspiring story about forgiveness and making a difference that fit the event’s theme as well.

“He made a great point of giving back, of counting our blessings and paying it forward,” Hall said. “That’s the message we wanted the students to have.”

Otto suffered serious spinal cord injuries when he was hit by a truck while cycling in 2016. 

Not only did he defy the odds with a near complete and very rapid recovery, he also forgave the young driver who hit him, and just a year after the injury that young man, Otto’s neurosurgeon, and Otto ran a half-marathon together.

“The only thing we have control over are our attitude and actions,” Otto said prior to the event. “If we stay positive, great things will happen for us, if we dwell on the negative, that’s where we will end up.

“It’s important to accept life on life’s terms and to forgive others. We all make mistakes and so many positive things can come out of forgiveness.”

Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor said she’s amazed each year by the dedication and she sees from the students on the course and in their service projects.

“These young student runners are the next generation of leaders and philanthropists,” Connor said.

Along with Catawba County United Way staff and volunteers, the event was helped by several sponsors who contributed to the costs of food, t-shirts, items for athlete gift bags, awards and project awards along with providing other services.

Sponsors included: Catawba Valley Medical Center, CT Management, Guy M. Turner Inc., Dr. David Hamilton, Century Furniture, Wells Fargo Advisors, The Rotary Club of Hickory, Publix, Sharp Business Systems, Drum Funeral Home, Quality Water, Big Kahuna Timing, Catawba Sox, Premier Screen Printing Inc., A Signco, ING, Pepsi. The LRU cross country team helped with the course, Catawba Co. Emergency Medical Services had a crew on site and the City of Newton provided additional help directing parking and helping set up the venue.

For more information about the Catawba County United Way visit its Facebook page or ccunitedway.com or call  828-327-6851.

 

 

Oct. 2, 2018


Dean Otto


Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


With teams registered and service projects completed, nearly 30 high schools are ready to compete in the 26th annual Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Southside Park in Newton.

Along with being a chance for athletes across the region to compete, it is a community service project-oriented event as well.

Event organizer, John Hall said the race has always been about more than just the competition.

“It has emphasized good life values, and our requirement of service projects is a natural fit,” Hall said. “The young people have embraced it. Each year they are doing important and creative work in their communities across western North Carolina.”

Teams have taken part in everything from community clean-up projects to helping at local soup kitchens.

This year’s guest speaker is Dean Otto who suffered serious spinal cord injuries when he was hit by a truck while cycling in 2016. 

Not only did he defy the odds with a near complete and very rapid recovery, he also forgave the young driver who hit him, and just a year after the injury that young man, Otto’s neurosurgeon, and Otto ran a half-marathon together.

He said he’s grateful to have the opportunity to share his story with local students.

“The only thing we have control over are our attitude and actions,” Otto said. “If we stay positive, great things will happen for us, if we dwell on the negative, that’s where we will end up.

“It’s important to accept life on life’s terms and to forgive others. We all make mistakes and so many positive things can come out of forgiveness.”

The Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational started in 1993 with 11 schools from three counties and more than 100 athletes. In 1994, the race moved to Southside Park and has grown in numbers ever since.

Former winners include several state champions and NCAA All-Americans.

For more information contact John Bailey at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.

Sept. 24, 2018

Cynthia Lingerfelt and her ECCCM case worker Lucy Thacker have become close friends as Lingerfelt used the agencies 

resources to get back on her feet financially. John Bailey/CCUW

 

ECCCM client ready to “pay it forward”


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


Through the month of September, The Hickory Daily Record's Notable Neighbor feature shined a spotlight on the importance of giving back to your community through organizations like the Catawba County United Way and its funded partners. This week the focus is on 

an Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry client.

Cynthia Lingerfelt, 61, admits she’s a “prideful person” so it wasn’t easy for her to ask for help when she found herself struggling financially after her mother died two years ago.

It was the case worker she met at Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Lucy Thacker, who reminded her there’s always hope.

“Miss Lucy was so sweet to me,” Lingerfelt said. “She made me feel so good about myself and encouraged me in so many ways.”

The Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (ECCCM), a funded partner of the Catawba County United Way, serves all the eastern part of the county. It provides emergency financial assistance for mortgage and rent payments, assistance with utility bills, fuel oil and kerosene purchases, emergency food and clothing and life-necessary pharmaceuticals, according to ECCCM’s website, ecccm.org.

Lingerfelt took advantage of many of these resources.

Twelve years ago, she put her life on hold to take care of her mother, who had gotten sick and needed the help. They managed their household off her mother’s social security benefits.

When Lingerfelt’s mother died, she had to go back to work and the cost of the bills: rent, utilities and food, quickly began stacking. She worked every minute she could, but it was only for minimum wage and even picking up some odd jobs on the side, it was never enough.

Things began getting bleak when a friend of hers suggested she reach out to ECCCM.

“They feed me. The food program was really important,” Lingerfelt said. “I was at the point where I just had barely enough money to make the bills and not always. Sometimes I had to put one back to try and pay another.”

There were times after she paid all the bills, rent and put gas in the car the “cupboards were empty.”

Thacker said ECCCM’s food pantry helps supplement food stamps.

“For those who aren’t on food stamps we have a different program for them where they can come more often for food,” Thacker said.

ECCCM lets its clients know about job fairs in the county and works with local staffing agencies.

“We have someone who talks about health insurance too, in the financial classes we offer. It’s a wealth of information we go over,” Thacker said.

With her caseworker’s guidance, Lingerfelt eventually got hired on fulltime at Shurtape and has been there for a year.

“Life has turned around for me and am just so proud and happy, but I don’t think I could have made it without the help I got here,” she said. “All my family had passed on and I didn’t have anybody to turn to but (ECCCM) is my family now.”

It’s not enough to just get their clients back on their feet though.

Thacker said another one of the goals she sets with her clients is to give them the tools they need so they don’t have to seek out assistance in the future.

Lingerfelt was especially glad for the financial counseling and classes where she learned how to make and stick to a budget and how to create savings. It came down to having a “game plan” for life.

“Putting back a little nest egg in case something happens is very important and unfortunately my mother had gotten so sick, so fast and I had to come out of work to take care of her, so I didn’t have that then,” Lingerfelt said.

She’s been equally inspired from all the help she’s gotten to “pay it forward.”

Lingerfelt has even gone on United Way speaking engagements to talk to employees at local companies, sharing her story and explaining how ECCCM helped her.

Before her troubles, agencies like ECCCM wasn’t something she gave much thought, but she understands the importance of them now.

“There’s so many people out there who really do need help and who are really trying and struggling and they’re not aware of this,” Lingerfelt said. “I feel like part of my responsibility now is to let others know that this is here and there are things you can be taught to help you manage your money and get you on your feet and get you on the right track.”

For more information about the services at ECCCM visit ecccm.org or call 828-465-1702. For more information about other Catawba County United Way funded partners and their services visit ccunitedway.com or call 828-327-6851.


 

Sept. 17, 2018

Checking out some the United Way shirts, Eddie Hoover recalls the different programs he’s been involved with like 
The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club and the Community Ridge Day Care Center. John Bailey/CCUW


Eddie Hoover, driven to connect with his community


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com 


There are a lot of ways to make a difference in your community from tutoring at an elementary school, delivering for Meals on Wheels or giving a monetary donation.

Through the month of September, The Hickory Daily Record’s Notable Neighbor feature will shine a spotlight on the importance of volunteerism and giving back through the Catawba County United Way (CCUW).

This week’s CCUW volunteer is Eddie Hoover.

The combination of nature and nurture helped develop Eddie Hoover’s belief that everyone should lead by example when it comes to making a difference in your community.

The drive to be connected to his community started with what his mother taught him.

It was reinforced by the world outside his front door.

“I came from one of the poorest points in the city (Hickory), a little community called ‘Little Berlin,’” Hoover said. “There were bootleggers back in the early days and then drugs, you name it.”

The neighborhood is gone now after a cable company bought up the property to put up towers but growing up there showed him all the reasons why it’s important to be an active voice in your world.

Not long after he graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1997, Hoover’s former employer Bert Brinkley at Plastic Packaging, now Sonoco, encouraged him to go even further by getting involved with the United Way.

It was at this point when he saw the value of pooling local resources to deal with local problems.

“As a matter of fact there were some people, a brother and sister, in my neighborhood who were struggling with finances,” Hoover said. “They were very poor, and I went to our company and asked Bert what we could do for them and he said get the United Way involved.”

Through its funded partners, CCUW helped the family get better housing and clothing.

“I could look at their house some days and I could see light coming through the walls of their house,” Hoover said. “It was a blessing to make their world a better place.”

Since then, he donated 13 years of his life being actively involved with the Catawba County United Way, including being the campaign leader for his company.

Hoover rolled up his sleeves and volunteered with several programs directly including The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club in Hickory and the Community Ridge Day Care center.

The day care was especially meaningful for him because it’s where he attended elementary school.

Another agency he enjoyed working with was Rising Hope Farms, which helps children with disabilities improve their lives physically and emotional.

“After seeing what those young children had to go through and seeing what United Way was giving back to them, it meant a whole lot that I got involved,” Hoover said. “I realized this could be someone’s grandchild, or they could be my child.”

The combination of all those experiences convinced him people need to be more, do more, if they want to think of themselves as a community.

“We got to dive in with all the people and all the resources we can to help our neighbors better themselves,” Hoover said.

He’s even explored other opportunities to help through the years by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and mentoring teens through sports programs.

“Up until nine years ago, I always had a travel basketball team or football team and you wouldn’t believe all the kids who didn’t have anywhere to go once they left practice. I would have to take them home,” Hoover said.

“It’s very important we stay involved with our community so we can keep our community growing. If we’re not impacting our community, it’s going to die.”

Some fun facts about Eddie Hoover

1-What is your funniest moment as a volunteer? 

One year we had a United Way kick off at Plastic Packaging Inc. and all the mangers had to get in a dunking booth.

2-What is your favorite inspirational quote?

“From which much is given much is required.”

3-Who inspires you? 

My Mother, Clovine Hoover.

4-What’s your favorite hobby?

Cutting grass



 


Sept. 10, 2018



Glenn Barger takes a look at this year’s collection of school supplies donated by local businesses during the Catawba 

County United Way’s annual Stuff the Bus campaign John Bailey/CCUW



Glenn Barger, inspired to make a difference through United Way

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

There are a lot of ways to make a difference in your community from tutoring at an elementary school, delivering for Meals on Wheels or giving a monetary donation.

Through the month of September, The Hickory Daily Record’s Notable Neighbor feature will shine a spotlight on the importance of volunteerism and giving back to your community through the Catawba County United Way (CCUW).

This week’s CCUW volunteer is Glenn E. Barger.

For Barger, doing more for his community through The United Way, “just seemed to be the right thing to do.”

He originally got involved in 1966 with the Eastern Catawba County United Way prior to the merger of it with The Greater Hickory United Way.

Barger has filled several rolls since then, including as a donor, community volunteer and a committee member. He even served a term as president of the Catawba County United Way board.

While Barger has years of experience as a former educator, administrator and a Catawba County Schools superintendent, his work with CCUW drilled home for him the importance of connecting the dots between needs and resources in the community.

“As an educator I saw first hand the many challenges many of my students experienced that hindered them from reaching their dreams in life,” Barger said. “Then, I saw first hand, that many of the agencies supported by United Way helped students, their parents and the public receive those needed resources and support to overcome many obstacles which hindered them in reaching their dreams and improving their lives.”

He’s seen the faces of children receiving a present at Christmas and seen medical issues being resolved.

“But the most memorable (moment) comes from a person in one of the agencies supported by United Way,” Barger said. “He was trying to reestablish his life from a substance abuse issue which had cost him his career and family.

“Through the help of many, he overcame his issues, was gainfully employed, served on several county boards and started a very effective outreach program for youth.”

More about Glenn Barger:

Why helping in your community is important?

“We have a great community to live, work and raise a family. That is not to say that we do not have our share of issues which threaten our community,” Barger said. “We must work together as a community to resolve these issues. If we are to continue to grow and be prosperous as a community we must work to strengthen our defenses against drug abuse, homelessness, illness and other social issues.”

What is your funniest moment as a volunteer?

This moment occurred when he was serving as a volunteer at a local soup kitchen. One of the guests approached me and asked, “Do you remember me?”

He didn’t, but she was a former student of his 25 years earlier.

“The lady was there with her granddaughter to have a meal. I remembered her as being a popular student with many friends,” Barger said. “She shared with me some of her hard luck during recent years and said, ‘you are only one paycheck away from being self-sufficient to being homeless.’”

She then said, “I can’t believe my former high school principal is here serving me lunch. You were old 25 years ago and you are still able to get around”

Who inspires you?

“We all have our own personal Board of Directors who helps us be who we are. That Board changes as we go through life,” Barger said. “Many times, these individuals may not be aware that they inspire you. I will list some of those who have influenced me the most:

“My parents - I was fortunate to have parents that taught me the value of honesty, dependability and respect. They modeled these traits for me and my sister as we grew up.

“Teachers - They not only influenced my dreams but help me to determine my life ‘s career of becoming a teacher

“My wife – For the past 53 years she has been my rock. She has supported me in my career and my life. She has kept me grounded and encourages me to keep on going with the reminder that it is not over.”

For more information about the Catawba County United Way, visit ccunitedway.com or the Catawba County United Way Facebook page or call 828-327-6851.





Sept. 6, 2018



Employees from the Publix in Hickory pitched in and helping to sort the mounds of school supplies collected for 

the annual Stuff the Bus campaign. The company brought in dozens more boxes from its own collection effort as well

John Bailey/CCUW



Catawba County United Way stuffs the bus with school supplies

 

BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

Who doesn’t remember the smell of crayons, the feel of a brand new three-ring binder in your hands or the weight of a brand-new book bag over your shoulder?

With more than 4,000 individual items, the Catawba County United Way, in partnership with nearly a dozen local businesses, made sure students in all three of the county’s school districts (Hickory, Newton-Conover, Catawba Co.) had the tools they needed to be academically successful.

This year’s “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive brought in more than two dozen separate school related items, not including those related to personal hygiene.

“I have new students that come to school scared and overwhelmed by a new environment.  Lots of times they come empty handed.  Rene Huntsinger, counselor at Jenkins Elementary School in Hickory Public Schools said.

“When I bring them to my office and hand them a fresh set of school supplies or a backpack, it instantly makes them smile and feel welcomed at Jenkins.”

Being able to give school supplies to those students removes a barrier to learning and the financial burden for parents.

“Catawba County Schools greatly appreciates the community’s support in helping our students have a successful start to the school year,” CCS Director of Student Services Maria Ballard said. “Through the United Way’s Stuff the Bus campaign, many students receive school supplies that they would not have been able to access without the donations.” 

The local companies and organizations involved in collecting all those thousands of school supplies were equally excited about being part of Stuff the Bus this year.

For the employees of Alex Lee Inc., it was about imagining what it would be like to start the school year without those basic supplies.

“By sharing your dollars and fulfilling those needs, how much excitement could you instill in a child’s approach to a new school year?  The team at Alex Lee and MDI wanted to help get children excited about school,” according to a statement from Alex Lee Inc.

Other organizations who were collection sites for Stuff the Bus included: Century Furniture, CommScope, St. Aloysius Catholic Church, WestRock, ZF Lemforder, Publix, APICS, Catawba Valley Medical Center, MDI, Hickory Texas Roadhouse, Catawba County government, City of Newton and City of Claremont.

While school districts are several weeks into their new year, the Catawba County United Way will continue to gather school supplies to share in the upcoming months.

Most students have supplies at the beginning of the year, but the supplies are quickly used, Huntsinger said.

“Students from families on very tight incomes, or no income at all should not have to worry about how they are going to do their homework because they do not have pencils and paper,” she said. 

Call John Bailey at CCUW,828-327-6851, for more information about available school supplies.





Sept. 3, 2018

The 2018 Catawba County United Way Campaign Chair Keith Mackie reviews some of the donor packets sent out 

to local companies earlier this month. John Bailey/CCUW


Hickory Daily Record spotlights United Way with Notable Neighbors


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com 


For Keith Mackie, giving back is just a way of life he believes we should all adopt.

The executive vice president for Catawba Valley Community College and this year’s campaign chair for the Catawba County United Way, first began donating to CCUW several years ago.

But it was when he was invited to join the United Way board, that Mackie was introduced to the full scope of what it means to be part of connecting the dots between needs and resources in a community.

“All of us have times in our lives when we need the care and support of others. The UW provides both at the times when the needs are the greatest,” Mackie said. “We are responsible for making our community a great place to live.

“Helping others builds their self-esteem, enhances productivity and builds a sense of being valued. Life improvements for our citizens enhance our community and life for all.”

 

For the rest of the HDR story follow the link at: The Hickory Daily Record



 

Aug. 23, 2018

Shantea Ramseur

Shantea Ramseur benefited from the after-school program at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Hickory when she 

was a child. Now part of the staff, she’s looking forward to being the one providing the tutoring. JOHN BAILEY/CCUW

 

United Way makes improving literacy a priority


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com

 

HICKORY – We’ve all heard the phrase, “reading is fundamental.”

Whether it’s downloading a recipe to cook a meal or searching for a YouTube video to teach you how to use your iPhone, functioning in today’s digital age is difficult if you can’t read.

For this reason, The United Way has focused on improving reading skills for students, pre-K through 12th grade, with various literacy programs.

Locally, the Catawba County United Way (CCUW) does its part with help from several of its funded partners.

The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Hickory offers tutoring help through its after-school and summer programs.

The Catawba County Partnership for Children operates the local Imagination Library which mails free age-appropriate books every month to any child from birth until age five.

The Patrick Beaver Learning Resources Center’s Hickory Augustine Literacy Project provides free, one-on-one instruction to children primarily in grades K-3 who are identified as economically disadvantaged and read at least one year below grade level.

“The United Way understands that without strong literacy skills, the potential for a student to fall behind and eventually drop out increases exponentially,” Newton-Conover City Schools Superintendent and CCUW board member Aron Gabriel said. “Relative to the mentoring programs that UW supports, countless children are provided with positive role models who help shape a positive self-awareness and appreciation for others.

“In the area of education, both literacy and mentoring support have always been favored by the UW board because of its value relative to future outcomes for each kid helped and society as a whole.” 

The superintendent used Newton-Conover City Schools own Kid Connection program and the Leader in Me Program as an example of his district focusing students on self-awareness, self-regulation and responsibility.

Shantea Ramseur works at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club now but remembers the value of its after-school program. She attended it herself as a child, starting in the second grade.

Along with the one-on-one tutoring, the after-school program insured Ramseur and the other students had a regular time to study every day.

Ramseur admits she was “horrible” at math, but always enjoyed reading.

“We would have staff constantly come between us to make sure we were doing our work and make sure it was being done right,” she said.

In the end, the value of the program for her was having someone providing that little additional boost of encouragement when she was having a bad day. Ramseur is looking forward to being on the other side of the conversation and inspiring a new generation of students.

“Showing them they have the potential at excelling in math, reading or science really makes them want to continue to try to get better,” Ramseur said.

She went on to earn an associate degree and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Appalachian State University.

Visit ccunitedway.com for more information about these and other Catawba County United Way funded partners and their programs.

For more information about The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Hickory, visit salvationarmycarolinas.org/bgchickory/.

 

 

Aug. 16, 2018


Catawba County United Way campaign volunteers review the material they will be sharing with local organizations this month.  

JOHN BAILEY/CCUW


Catawba County United Way prepares for 2018-19 campaign


BY JOHN BAILEY

jbailey@ccunitedway.com


From youth mentoring programs, to crisis assistance counseling, to disaster relief services, the Catawba County United Way is ready to make a difference with its 2018-19 campaign.

The group’s board recently approved the allocation recommendations made by the volunteers on its community investment panels.

Catawba County United Way will use the donor dollars pledged during this year’s campaign to help support 21 programs ran by its 14 funded partners.

“Our work is focused on building better lives and a thriving community by increasing educational opportunities, fostering financial stability and independence and improving healthcare access and understanding for all,” Campaign Chair and Catawba Valley Community College executive vice president Keith Mackie said.

United Way volunteers recently picked up campaign packets and will be taking them to local businesses and other organizations this month.

This is a “call to action” Catawba County United Way Executive Director Jennie Connor said.

“It’s time to ask how you want to be involved in your community, how do you want to have an impact in helping your neighbors,” Connor said.

Ann Peele, executive director for the Family Guidance Center in Hickory, talked about the impact her organization has had locally, during a Catawba County United Way campaign volunteer meeting.

The center provides individual and family counseling along with being a domestic violence shelter.

“We don’t know what kind of tragedy or what kind of upheaval will happen tomorrow,” Peele said. “I can tell you based on many of the parents I’ve worked with, whose teenager is being traumatized by domestic violence, they will all tell you how horrendous it is, how it’s impacted their child.”

She reminded the group that while their lives may be comfortable now, they could be the ones looking for help at any moment.

“Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It can impact anyone, and it does,” Peele said. “Please let’s all be on the campaign to prevent some of these problems.”

She reminded everyone they all have an investment in their community.

“We do what we do because it’s part of us and our desire to give back and support our neighbors,” Peele said.

2018-19 funded partners and their programs include:

Adult Life Programs: adult day care - $41,000

ALFA: HIV/AIDS counseling, prevention education and testing - $21,800

Catawba Valley Chapter American Red Cross: emergency/disaster services - $22,367

Catawba Co. DSS Senior nutrition services: meals on wheels - $22,429

Catawba Co. Public Health, Breast Health: breast health education, preventive and screening services - $5,000

Community Ridge Daycare: child care subsidies - $40,571

Council on Adolescents: healthy youth education - $35,148

Council on Adolescents: mentoring programs for at-risk youth: $33,364

ECCCM: crisis financial assistance - $40,194

ECCCM: crisis assistance coaching - $16,833

Exodus Homes: transitional housing for homeless after release from treatment centers/prison - $33,333

Family Guidance Center: consumer credit counseling - $86,047

Family Guidance Center: first step domestic violence shelter - $136,366

Family Guidance Center: Individual and family counseling - $98,750

Family Guidance Center: sexual assault services - $19,929

Partnership for Children:  Imagination Library - $22,107

Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center: tutoring programs for children grades K-3 - $15,000

The Salvation Army: crisis financial assistance - $24,462

The Salvation Army: Shelter of Hope - $33,893

The Salvation Army: Boys and Girls Club after-school and summer programs - $24,500

Sipes Orchard Home: transitional housing for ages 17-21 - $17,385

If you or your company would like to participate in Catawba County United Way’s 2018-19 campaign call Sylvia Long at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.

 

 

 


Winners Announced at Campaign Celebration Donor Event

Over 150 Catawba County United Way (CCUW) donors attended the 2017 Campaign Celebration and Annual Meeting event held April 18 at the Catawba Country Club.   The United Way celebrated, shared client success stories and thanked individual donors, retirees, schools and corporate leaders and elected officials for their support during the 2017 campaign.

Philip Moore, Vice President PNC Financial Services Group and CCUW Board President welcomed the attendees and spoke about United Way’s impact areas of health, education and financial stability and their grant process. He also reminded the attendees that dollars raised locally are used for local programs.  He encouraged anyone interested in participating in this volunteer-based process scheduled for May 1 and May 8 to contact CCUW.  Also recognized were CCUW Board Members, staff and elected officials as well as the 2018 CCUW funded partners.  Those partners are:  Adult Life Programs, AIDS Leadership Foothills-area Alliance (ALFA), , The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Hickory, Meals on Wheels, Imagination Library, Catawba Valley Chapter American Red Cross,  Community Ridge Daycare, Council on Adolescents of Catawba County, Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministries, Exodus Homes, Family Guidance Center, The Salvation Army and Sipe’s Orchard Home.   The group was also encouraged to visit CCUW’s new mobile friendly web page where a new link, the Money Needs Calculator, can project costs incurred by families for basic needs i.e. housing, childcare, food, health care, etc.

Moore also focused on another important part of United Way’s work is to make available a resource that links people with needs to the valuable health and human services in our community.   2-1-1 the 3-digit phone number is a quick easy call available 24 hours 7 day a week, which links people to resources.  You may also go to the website www.nc211.org to access this information.   Many resources afforded the citizens of our community would go unutilized without this important tool provided by your United Way. 
Moore also recognized, Mr. Benny Yount and Paramount Automotive for their recent announcement of the donation of a brand new car to be given away this December to one lucky fair share donor.  2018 marks the seventh year of Yount’s donation for the Fair Share Donor Car Giveaway.  All CCUW Fair Share donors will be entered in a weekly drawing. The finalists come together for a final event in December where each person will draw a key from a bag and attempt to start the car. The key that starts the car wins. The winner can choose between a Kia, Hyundai or Volkswagen.

Henry Morphis, 2017 CCUW Campaign Chair, thanked the campaign cabinet for their involvement with the workplace campaigns.  With focus on the United Way’s impact in the community, Morphis introduced three of the cabinet members - Humberto Rojo, Century Furniture; Siobhan Loendorf, Catawba County Library and Dr. Jenny White, Hickory Public Schools to come forward to read true ,client success stories provided by three of the funded programs.   

 Morphis announced the winners for awards to three schools. There is a traveling plaque given annually to the winning schools. The winners are the following in the three categories: Elementary school awarded to Conover Special Education, Middle school awarded to River Bend Middle and High school awarded to Catawba Rosenwald Education Center. The schools were rated based on employee participation and employee per capita giving. Schools from all three districts in Catawba County are eligible including Hickory City Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools and Catawba County schools.

Morphis and Board President, Philip Moore presented Community Impact awards to corporations that ran workplace campaigns. There were four divisions. Division 1 winner for 1 to 199 employees was new campaign, Publix, Lake Hickory Crossing.  Division 2 winner for 200 to 499 was Duke Energy.   Division 3 winner for 500 to 799 employees was Shurtape Technologies, LLC. Division 4 winner for 800 plus employees was Corning Cable Systems. Award winners in these divisions were selected based on employee per capita, percentage of participation, volunteerism, engagement with United Way functions and events, participation on United Way committees and panels and where applicable corporate support.

In 1944, the Catawba County United Way began as the Community Chest Fund and War Fund. The name has changed a few times over the 74 years to keep up with our changing community. However, the meaning behind the Community Chest is still relevant today. The Community Chest is provided by the people for the people to benefit the community. 
Century Furniture was presented with the Community Chest Award for their year-round involvement with United Way, their exceptional use of best practices for the workplace campaign, volunteerism and their impact through the United Way on the community.

The Catawba County United Way would like to thank all the donors to the 2017 campaign including corporations, schools, organizations, individual donors and retirees. 

25th Annual United Way Cross Country Invitational

 

October 5, 2017

Catawba County United Way - 25th Annual Cross Country Invitational 

It’s Big Kahuna time! More than 800 high school runners will compete in the 25th Annual United Way Cross Country Invitational races on October 11 at Southside Park in Newton. More than thirty high schools across the state will be represented in this sanctioned event organized by the Catawba County United Way and John Hall. The first of many races begins at 2:40pm.The event emphasizes the importance of volunteerism and community service among teenagers. This is a highly competitive well-attended event. Runners will receive a meal prepared by United Way volunteers and event t-shirts.

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Self-Sufficient in Catawba County


October 22, 2017 

Catawba County Organizations Work Against Poverty

HICKORY — In January 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty that sparked an interest in calculating how many people were impoverished across the nation.The following year, the Office of Economic Opportunity adopted Mollie Orshansky’s poverty thresholds, which were derived from the cost of a minimum food diet multiplied by three to account for other family expenses, according to the United States Census Bureau.In the mid-1990s, Dr. Diana Pearce, the director of the Women and Poverty Project at Wider Opportunities for Women at the time, created the Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS).The SSS was a measure that provided realistic and detailed data on what clients individually needed to be self-sufficient,...

READ FULL STORY


Prescription for a Healthy Community



March 31, 2017

Prescription for a Healthy Community (Feature Hickory Daily Record)

By Pamela Josey Pope, Director of Resource Development, Catawba County United Way

What is your idea of healthy? Eating right and exercising? Excellent! What is your idea of a healthy community? That’s a much bigger question with a much more complicated answer. Catawba County United Way focuses on the health of the community as one of its main impact areas. What does that mean for the community? 

It’s not all apple slices and exercise plans. Improving the health of people in our county means promoting healthy lifestyles. The prescription must include safe environments, healthy beginnings, healthy lifestyles, access to health care, and prevention. The plan for a healthy community requires many paths to improved health.  It is important to be targeted and accountable. 

Safe and secure environments include homes free from physical hazards and a support system to maintain it this also includes helping victims of abuse. Recovery and advocacy services must be provided for all ages. It also means support for seniors and those with disabilities so they have the ability to remain safe and independent for as long as possible.

Read more.........


2016-2017 Spirit Awards

April 19, 2017

Winners announced at Spirit Awards Donor Event


Hickory, NC – Rain did not keep the faithful Catawba County United Way donors away from the Spirit Awards and Annual Meeting event held April 19th at the Catawba Country Club. More than 150 were in attendance as the United Way celebrated, reflected and thanked individual donors, retirees, schools, and corporate leaders for their support during the 2016 campaign.


The event began with a video reflecting moments from the past year. Dr. Aron Gabriel, Asst. Superintendent for Newton-Conover Schools and CCUW Board Member led the group in a moment of reflection. Debra Bechtel, County Attorney and CCUW Board President welcomed the attendees and spoke about the power of the collective efforts in our community to improve education, financial stability and health. Bechtel also recognized CCUW Board Members, staff and special guests.


READ MORE ....

 


February Article- Financial Stability is Important

 

 

February 28, 2017

Make Sure Your Head Isn’t in the Sand. Improving the financial stability of Catawba County residents is a critical impact area.

(Feature Hickory Daily Record)

By Pamela Josey Pope, Director of Resource Development, Catawba County United Way

We all have goals in life. Some people want to build a mansion while others want the comfort of knowing they can pay their bills. Financial stability should not only be a goal but also a reality for anyone who seeks it. Your head is in the sand if you think the lack of financial stability will not touch you or someone you love. 

Catawba County United Way considers financial stability to be one of three main impact areas for our community. Being financially stable means you must create economic security. The road to stability includes mile markers such as securing the costs of daily basic needs, creating an emergency savings fund, and choosing the appropriate asset-building economic security pathway(s). Without financial stability long-term sustainable results in areas of education and health are at much greater risk of failure. 

One does not become financially stable by consistently receiving emergency assistance. While assistance provided through United Way programs will help in times of crisis, it is not intended to sustain an individual or family long-term. The focus is on helping others to become financially stable. Success of this type is a process. The solution takes awareness of the problem and the constant collaboration of many organizations and individuals to have an impact. When Catawba County residents are able to find good jobs, provide for their families and save for the future, they and their children are more likely to lead healthy lives and succeed in school. Financially stable individuals and families lead to a more competitive workforce and a stronger community. Everyone benefits from a stronger community.

READ MORE...


 

Catawba County United Way - Volunteer Center & Corning Leaders


January 31, 2017

Catawba County United Way welcomed more than 95 Corning Optical Communications Technology leaders for an afternoon of volunteer time with Adult Life Programs. Corning Incorporated graciously asked if their group could participate in a volunteer activity through the United Way Volunteer Center. 

The Corning guests divided into two smaller groups and traveled to the Hickory and Conover Adult Life locations. They were paired with program participants for an afternoon of BINGO, crafts, a little dancing, games and fellowship. Corning guests had a terrific time interacting and getting to know the program participants. They learned that Max is a great Checkers player, Johnnie cannot be beat at Scrabble and Sarah makes beautiful Valentine’s. More importantly they showed compassion and enthusiasm no matter what the activity. There was no shortage of laughter and smiles. 

Participants were eager to learn more about the Corning volunteers too. Many Corning guests were visiting from other countries. Corning leaders from across the region were also a part of the afternoon volunteer time. Corning guests came in carrying gift bags for the participants filled with coloring books and toiletries. They left knowing they had made new friends. 

 Catawba County United Way coordinates volunteer activities between businesses and those in the community. CCUW brings together groups to create great impact in areas of education, health and financial stability. United Way’s mission to improve lives and strengthen communities is fueled by the passion and hard work of volunteers. 

“Meaningful community solutions require more than money, programs or policies. The kind of lasting change that benefits everyone is only possible when people from all walks of life are willing to roll up their sleeves and go where their time and talent is most needed. “ said Jennie Connor, Executive Director of CCUW. 

Tyesha Smith, Corning employee and the event coordinator commented, “Thank you so much for all of the coordination.  It was a wonderful event and experience.  I heard lots of positive reviews and I saw quite a few of our leaders really enjoying themselves.  The time spent was invaluable.  We will definitely seek out more of these activities in the future, with United Way, to serve our community.” 

Adult Life Programs is a Catawba County United Way community partner. They provide support, respite and education to caregivers and affordable, quality day and treatment services enabling adults to remain in their communities. They operate three centers in the county: Hickory, Conover and Maiden.  

Corning (www.corning.com) is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science. For more than 160 years, Corning has applied its unparalleled expertise in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics to develop products that have created new industries and transformed people’s lives. Corning succeeds through sustained investment in R&D, a unique combination of material and process innovation, and close collaboration with customers to solve tough technology challenges. Corning’s businesses and markets are constantly evolving. Today, Corning’s products enable diverse industries such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, transportation, and life sciences. They include damage-resistant cover glass for smartphones and tablets; precision glass for advanced displays; optical fiber, wireless technologies, and connectivity solutions for high-speed communications networks; trusted products that accelerate drug discovery and manufacturing; and emissions-control products for cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles.  

For more information about volunteerism, community impact or resources contact Catawba County United Way 828-327-6851, www.ccunitedway.com
Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center-Homeless Count

 

January 30, 2017


Peanut butter, socks, flashlights, and HOPE.

How do you begin to address the needs and numbers of homeless people in our community? You come together and you find a way to connect with them. How do you connect? You give them incentive to be seen and heard. 

Several groups working with the Continuum of Care met at the Catawba County United Way to organize the 2017 Homeless Count also known as the Point-In-Time survey. Teams of volunteers went out into the community last week to find the homeless, the unseen and “count” them. Participants willing to speak with volunteers were provided a backpack full of essential items such as apple sauce, peanut butter, tarps, socks, flashlights, batteries, toiletries and more. Supplies were donated and provided by several collaborative agencies. Wells Fargo employees from across the region packed the bags for the project at the United Way.

The homeless situation in our community is real. Don’t turn the page. The issues our homeless face are not in some other community, county, state or country. It’s right here. The reasons a person becomes homeless are as complex as the solutions. Job losses, mental health, domestic issues, physical health, education, learning disabilities, trauma, PTSD are only a few reasons…and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. 

Homelessness is not only an adult issue. Homelessness touches every age group. Your child may be attending school right now with a child that spent the night in a car or shelter. This is the same young student we expect to perform well in school despite their great disadvantage. Many people in our area would be homeless if they had to do without a pay check for more than a month. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a strong family network to fall back on during tough times. Simply saying, “get a job!” doesn’t add up either. You need an address to get a job. You might even need transportation. Public transportation can be a challenge in a community of our size. 

Teena Willis, Housing Manager at Partners Behavioral Health Management explained,” the homeless Point-In-Time survey helps us identify gaps in our services for the homeless population. The data is extremely important when planning for future housing and transportation solutions as well as applying for grants. It gives us the opportunity to connect, supply basic provisions and provide resources they may not be aware of locally.”

Seek first to understand. The Homeless Point-In-Time project is a national project that counts and reports homeless population numbers across our country. The information assists the shelters, food banks, local government and the United Way to better understand the problem so we together can find solutions. We understand the tremendous impact Education, Heath and Financial Stability have on a person’s life. Tomorrow’s outcome begins today. HOPE must start today. Everyone deserves to have HOPE. Don’t you think?

Thank you to the volunteers and the following groups for your work with the homeless. The Continuum of Care is made up of community leaders from ABCCM, ACCESS Care, ALFA, Catawba County Schools, Catawba County United Way, City of Hickory, Community Link, CVCC, Dept. of Social Services, ECCCM, Exodus Homes, Family Care Center, Family Endeavors, Family Guidance, GHCCM, Greenway Transportation, Hickory Fire Dept., Hickory Police Dept. , Hickory Soup Kitchen, Highways & Hedges, Our Father’s Pavilion, Partners Behavioral Health Management, Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Sipes Orchard Home, St. Albans Episcopal Church, Veteran’s Transitional Advocacy Board, and WPCOG- RHA. 

The Catawba County United Way is honored to be a part of the process of bringing HOPE and future resources to our homeless population.For more information on human and social services in our county call 2-1-1 hotline.

Article by: Pamela Josey Pope, Director of Resource Development, Catawba County United Way

Catawba County United Way Accepting 2018 Funding Requests


Catawba County United Way Accepts Funding Requests
 
The Catawba County United Way is accepting Pre-Requests for Funding Proposals for 2018  (Pre-RFPs) that are targeted to address the identified Impact Areas of Health, Education and Income. Health defined as safe and secure environments, healthy beginnings, healthy lifestyles and  access to health care and prevention. Education defined as school readiness, academic achievement, parental/guardian engagement and productive young adults.  Income defined as family-sustaining education and employment, income supports, affordable housing and savings and manageable expenses. Pre-RFP proposals will be accepted for programs identifiable under these impact areas that address the needs of the residents of Catawba County.  
Pre-RFPs will be considered from organizations who are either incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax exempt entity or who have a 501-C3 legal status, within Catawba County, who comply with applicable legal, federal state and local operating and reporting requirements (e.g. government approved accounting practices, annual audit, 990, nondiscrimination). Pre-RFPs for consideration must be operated by an active, responsible and voluntary governing body and adhere to a locally developed and adopted code of ethics for volunteers and staff, which include provisions for ethical management, publicity, fundraising practices and full and fair disclosure. Those organizations selected to complete final Requests for Funding will be notified. All grant amounts are contingent on funding. 
It is important to note, all programs seeking funding by CCUW, who wish to submit a Pre-RFP, must complete a Notice of Intent in order to be assigned access information to the electronic applications. This Notice of Intent is due by 5:00 p.m. February 1, 2017.  
    Pre-RFP applications will only be received electronically, via our website, and will require pre-assigned access information. Deadline for completion of the Pre-RFP is 5:00 p.m. February 09, 2017 in order to be considered for 2018 funding. Late applications will not be accepted.  
For additional information, please contact Sylvia Long at 828/327-6851 or by email to slong@ccunitedway.com.
Catawba County United Way Accepts Funding Requests
 
The Catawba County United Way is accepting Pre-Requests for Funding Proposals for 2018  (Pre-RFPs) that are targeted to address the identified Impact Areas of Health, Education and Income. Health defined as safe and secure environments, healthy beginnings, healthy lifestyles and  access to health care and prevention. Education defined as school readiness, academic achievement, parental/guardian engagement and productive young adults.  Income defined as family-sustaining education and employment, income supports, affordable housing and savings and manageable expenses. Pre-RFP proposals will be accepted for programs identifiable under these impact areas that address the needs of the residents of Catawba County.  
Pre-RFPs will be considered from organizations who are either incorporated as a not-for-profit, tax exempt entity or who have a 501-C3 legal status, within Catawba County, who comply with applicable legal, federal state and local operating and reporting requirements (e.g. government approved accounting practices, annual audit, 990, nondiscrimination). Pre-RFPs for consideration must be operated by an active, responsible and voluntary governing body and adhere to a locally developed and adopted code of ethics for volunteers and staff, which include provisions for ethical management, publicity, fundraising practices and full and fair disclosure. Those organizations selected to complete final Requests for Funding will be notified. All grant amounts are contingent on funding. 
It is important to note, all programs seeking funding by CCUW, who wish to submit a Pre-RFP, must complete a Notice of Intent in order to be assigned access information to the electronic applications. This Notice of Intent is due by 5:00 p.m. February 1, 2017.  
    Pre-RFP applications will only be received electronically, via our website, and will require pre-assigned access information. Deadline for completion of the Pre-RFP is 5:00 p.m. February 09, 2017 in order to be considered for 2018 funding. Late applications will not be accepted.  
For additional information, please contact Sylvia Long at 828/327-6851 or by email to slong@ccunitedway.com.

Catawba County United Way - 72 Year Homecoming!

OCTOBER 19, 2016:

The Catawba County United Way has a permanent home after 72 years with the purchase of the building located at 2760 Tate Boulevard SE, Hickory, NC. The building dedication will be held on Wednesday, October 19 at 4 pm to 6 pm. 

 The ceremony led by CCUW Board President, Bill Cable of People’s Bank, Stephen Shuford CEO of Shurtape Technologies and C. Randall Isenhower, chairman of Catawba County Commissioners, will be held at 4:30 pm. The ceremony will include the recognition of donors with a large bronze plaque affixed to the exterior. The plaque will list donors to the building fund. 

“The building was purchased with donations from private donors that provided contributions above and beyond their annual giving”, said Jennie Connor, CCUW executive director. “No monies were used from the yearly campaign,” emphasized Connor.  

The facilities include administrative offices, board room, training room, and storage areas. The larger rooms are available for community meetings. Community partners are encouraged to use the facility. Furnishings were brought from the previous location which was Corning Cable Systems. Corning provided the office space as a gift-in-kind to CCUW from 2004 to 2016. 

The event will include a presentation of the CCUW history, photos and memorable moments, a Proclamation, and refreshments. 

 For 72 years, Catawba County United Way has been an independent, locally governed and community-supported nonprofit agency, doing significant work in our community.  Their focus is on identifying and creating long-term, lasting change in the areas of Education, Income and Health with outcomes that will ultimately create a more vital, more stable, better community in which to live and work.  CCUW provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to help achieve measurable results and strengthen Catawba County. Visit www.ccunitedway.comfor more CCUW information.

  

Catawba County United Way - 24th Annual Cross Country Invitational 

OCTOBER 12, 2016:

 

Buses, runners, coaches, families, hot dogs and community! The 24th Annual Unifour Cross Country Invitational will be held at Southside Park in Newton on October 12th. 

 

 Each year, high school teams must complete a service project in order to register for the races. More than 30 high schools, on average, participate in the highly competitive races each year totaling up to more than 700 runners. More than five races will be run, beginning with the developmental contest at 2 p.m. 

 

 The meet will conclude with awards and a special presentation by Dr. Amanda Kloo, the founder of Project Momentum. This year’s theme comes from Project Momentum’s twitter handle which encourages fitness and inclusivity. The theme is “#Getsomemo.” The event is free and open to the public. 

 

 Project Momentum seeks the make health and fitness possible for everyone, and it began several years ago as a result of Dr.Kloo’s own remarkable story. A mom, wife and an education professor at Belmont Abbey College, she has cerebral palsy and spent much of her life believing physical strength was unattainable. On December 3, 2013 she began a quest to change that, and with the help of Crossfit 77 in Mooresville she did. Today Dr. Kloo no longer depends on her braces and canes, she has improved her health and fitness significantly, and last year she finished fifth in the Adaptive Crossfit Division at the 2015 Working Wounded Games. 

 

“My health, work, family and life have been completely transformed by functional fitness training,” Dr.Kloo says, “and I have promised myself I will do everything in my power to pay it forward.”  

 

 “The races will include some of the best runners in the state,” said John Hall, event organizer. In addition to racing that afternoon, participants will enjoy a meal prepared by United Way volunteers, meet t-shirts and other gifts, and compete for a number of awards. 

 

 This year’s United Way Invitational is the 24th annual race and will continue a tradition as a highly competitive and unique high school cross country event. The premier sponsors are Cargo Transporters, Century Furniture and Catawba Valley Medical Center. Additional sponsors of the event include Catawba County United Way, Newton Recreation, A Signco, Premier Screen Printing, Sharp, Pepsi, Drums-Willis-Reynolds Funeral Home, and Big Kahuna Timing. 

 

Photos of the event including award winners and sponsors will be posted on the www.ccunitedway.com website following the event. Follow Catawba County United Way on Facebook. 

 

 John Hall, an event organizer said, “This is really unique in that it is a high school athletic event.  It’s certainly one of the largest events in this area. Thank you to the coaches, the runners, United Way volunteers for your participation in the meet.”   

 

CCUW provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to help achieve measurable results and strengthen Catawba County. Visit www.ccunitedway.com for more CCUW information. 

 

 

Catawba County United Way Welcomes New Board Members Announces New Officers



Catawba County United Way welcomed seven new members to its Board of Directors and has announced its new officers.  The group was introduced at the recent CCUW Board Advance.

New members to the Catawba County United Way Board include Dr. Robbie Adell, Superintendent, Hickory Public Schools; Rev. Ken Curtis, Sr. Pastor, Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church; Dr. Aron Gabriel, Superintendent, Newton-Conover City Schools; Sean (Bobby) Lineberger, Master Sgt, NC Highway Patrol; Rodney Miller, Asst. City Manager, City of Hickory; Robert Miracle, CFO, Catawba County Government and Mark Turner, VP and Treasurer, CommScope. 

Newly elected officers are Board President, Bill Cable, Peoples Bank; Vice President, Debra Bechtel, Catawba County Government and Treasurer, Kevin Boyle, Century Furniture.  Philip Moore, PNC Bank, will serve as the 2016-2017 Campaign Chair.  

Catawba County United Way’s Board of Directors consists of community leaders who volunteer their time to oversee the governance of the organization as well as guide its strategic direction.  Each new Board member will serve an initial three year term ending in 2017. “We are pleased to welcome these committed and impassioned individuals to our board. They join our returning members who are actively involved in the local community and bring a wealth of expertise and talent to our organization," explained Jennie Connor, Executive Director, "Each member will help us accomplish our organizational objectives, strengthen our connection to the community, and communicate our many success stories." 

Dr. Adell attended Western Carolina University and University of the Cumberlands where he earned his doctorate in 2011.   A member of the NC Assoc. of Educators, he enjoys reading, golf and is a fan of college football.  Adell and wife Melody reside in Hickory and have two children.

Senior Pastor of Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, Sherrills Ford, NC, Rev. Curtis is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Emory University. He is a current member of the Sherrills Ford/Terrell Rotary and volunteers with the Sherrills Ford Optimist Club as coach for both soccer and baseball.  Curtis and wife Mindy have four children and reside in Sherrills Ford.

Dr. Gabriel, Asst. Superintendent, Newton-Conover City Schools, attended Montreat College, UNCC, Appalachian State and Western Carolina University.  He currently serves on the NC Assoc. of School Administrators and is a board member of the Hearts and Hope Foundation.  A Catawba County native, Gabriel and wife Mandy have two children and reside in Sherrills Ford.

Master Sgt. Lineberger, of the NC Highway Patrol, attended Bunker Hill High School and Livingstone College.   He is presently Board Chair for the State Employees Credit Union and serves as VP of the Oxford Fire Department.  In his spare time, Lineberger enjoys golf and refereeing college basketball.  He and wife Brittany have two children and reside in Claremont.

Assistant City Manager for the City of Hickory, Miller is a member of the NC Government Finance Officers Assoc, WPCOG Region E Development Corp, Government Finance Officers Assoc. – US & Canada and was recognized as Most Outstanding NC Finance Officer in 2011.  A Hickory native, he is a graduate of St. Stephens High School and NC State University. Miller enjoys golf, volleyball and guitar.  He and wife Tracy have three children and reside in Hickory.

Miracle, a CPA, is CFO for Catawba County Government.  A graduate of Ohio State University where he majored in accounting he is a member of both the National and NC Government Finance Officers Assoc.   Miracle is an outdoor enthusiast and soccer referee, Miracle and wife Donna have three children and reside in Hickory.

Turner, VP & Treasurer, CommScope, Inc. attended Dexter High School, Dexter, MI and the University of Michigan where he received his BBA and MBA. He enjoys water skiing and guitar.  Turner and wife Darcy reside in Hickory and have one child.

For 72 years, Catawba County United Way has been an independent, locally governed and community-supported nonprofit agency, doing significant work in our community.  Their focus is on identifying and creating long-term, lasting change in the areas of Education, Income and Health with outcomes that will ultimately create a more vital, more stable, better community in which to live and work.  CCUW provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to help achieve measurable results and strengthen Catawba County.