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Rowan United Way awards grants to area nonprofits

The Rowan County United Way has awarded Community Initiatives Grants to 11 local nonprofit agencies.

The grants are given to agencies with programs or services that address issues identified in the county needs assessment.

The Health and Human Services Needs Assessment Survey was created to understand the issues residents believed should be community priorities. Dental, medical, employment and education ranked high on the survey. The grants were first established in 1991 and are provided through money received from the United Way campaign. United Way member and non-member agencies are eligible.

Dr. Alan King, chairman of the grants committee, said the process has been rewarding yet challenging.

“We had $129,000 worth of requests and only could fulfill about $50,000,” King said.

The fact that there were so many requests means “there are so many needs in our community,” he said.

The United Way board allocates $100,000 to be used over two years for these grants.

“The agencies are doing their jobs with less than what they’ve had. There are a lot of state, local and federal cuts that have affected them,” King said.

The committee was looking for new ideas and innovative programs. The committee was also looking for a program or idea that had good planning or new programs that could be a model to follow in the future, he said.

With its grant, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center will be able to implement a senior community service employment program.

“The intent of the program is to help older adults reintegrate into the workforce,” Rufty-Holmes Executive Director Rick Eldridge said.

There is a population of older adults who may be retired, but now need to work.

“Federal grant money covers paying them minimum wage to work in these community service positions, but there’s little if any money left to pay for skills training that they need,” Eldridge said.

Now potential employees have to be certified with a career readiness designation before they can get an interview. Rufty-Holmes, which is a United Way member agency, is working with 22 people awaiting certification.

“It will make them more competitive with job openings in the private sector,” he said.

The grant money must be used by December. Eldridge expects to use the majority of the money by the spring.

Partners In Learning is not a United Way member agency, but will use the grant money to hire a case manager. The case manager will work with children and families to ensure their needs are met, said Executive Director Norma Honeycutt.

“A child doesn’t come to the classroom alone. It’s really a whole family that you’ve got to work with. We will be ensuring they are able to access health care needs, transportation needs, educational needs and assessment and mental health needs,” Honeycutt said.

Once the advocate meets with the family, they will develop a family service plan.

The United Way awarded grants to the following agencies:

• Community Care Clinic
• Rowan Helping Ministries

• Salisbury-Rowan Action Agency

• Rufty-Holmes Senior Center
• Family Crisis Council of Rowan County

• Prevent Child Abuse Rowan
• Rowan Vocational Opportunities

• Nazareth Children’s Home
• Partners In Learning

• The Arc of Rowan
• Capstone Recovery Center

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