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Rowan Helping Ministries needs volunteers

On any given day, Sandy Goodman sits down with dozens of clients in a room at Rowan Helping Ministries to determine what type of assistance the agency can offer.
Goodman, a volunteer with the agency’s Crisis Assistance Network program, asks a series of questions to determine eligibility in a process that normally takes 30-45 minutes.
The program has reached a critical state where wait times have gone from half an hour to three or four hours.
“We may see 80 to 90 people a day,” said Kimberly Collins, director of resource development and community relations.
People are being turned away, Collins said, because not enough volunteers are available to assist people.
The program provides assistance with utility disconnection notices, eviction notices, heating fuel, medication, food and clothing. Each day, between eight and 10 volunteers are there, but agency officials say they need more to meet demand.
A volunteer listens to a client’s story, keeping notes on what the needs are, and then determines if that client is eligible to receive services.
Once a client qualifies, a crisis manager determines how the agency can help.
“We are looking for folks who have time, a couple of hours a week,” Collins said.
Even if someone has two hours a week, it would be a big help, Collins said.
Volunteers “interview” clients, who must provide proof of eligibility. That includes photo identification, proof of income or disability.
Interviewers must undergo background checks and some training.
Goodman has been a volunteer for five years, beginning with the food pantry. Goodman said he finds it very rewarding to volunteer.
“I highly recommend anyone who feels the need to volunteer,” he said.
The majority of the Crisis Assistance Network volunteers are retired people and a few others are college students.
Not everyone who applies for crisis assistance will be eligible. Those who may not qualify can receive financial management help from a life coach to “learn some of the skills to be able to manage efficiently,” Goodman said.
“We still try to find ways to help them stand on their own,” said Executive Director Kyna Foster.
Foster said it’s heart-wrenching to listen to clients detail their financial struggles, which maybe the biggest challenge for volunteers.
Clients are interviewed for the Crisis Assistance Network program, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Volunteers are also needed to serve breakfast as early as 5:30 a.m. at the shelter.
The shelter averages about 60 to 69 people who receive breakfast before they leave for the day.
Churches and other organizations send volunteers to serve breakfast, but there is always a need for more.
For more information about the Crisis Assistance Network or how to volunteer, contact Kimberly Collins at 704-637-6838 ext. 103 or email Collins at kcollins@rhmmail.org.

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