Dee Ellison: Project Cover helps residents find vital resources

Published 12:01 pm Sunday, March 6, 2016

By Dee Ellison

Special to the Salisbury Post

On a cold evening recently members of the community met at At The Cross Ministries to explore resources that were available through various legal systems in Salisbury/Rowan.

The gathering was sponsored by Project COVER — Community, Outreach, Vocational, Educational, Resource Center — as part of its Conversations from the Porch forums.

Project COVER began planning for the forums in 2014 and hosting educational/informational forums in 2015 to encourage city and county residents to learn more about resource availability.

Several years ago my sister vocalized how disheartening it was to know that people in need go from place to place and many times are turned away because it is not the correct agency or the particular resource they need is not available. The circle of where to go when in need many times leaves people with a “forget about it” mentality. Some just give up.

Project COVER began hosting Conversations from the Porch to identify and provide information on resources. Conversations have been held with various focuses, including resources from the community and community organizations, religious/faith, government and legal systems.

Conversations are scheduled for the Salisbury/Rowan community in the near future focusing on business, health/welfare and human services and education.

These forums are designed to open the conversations in an atmosphere where information can be shared; ideas, feelings and knowledge are gained.

If we walk away and two people or families have been helped, then we are doing our job.

The end result of the conversations will be a resource website so that the community members may have one place where they may learn about these resources.

The most recent panel included Salisbury Interim Police Chief Brian Stallings, Officer Ann Cooper, Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten, Spencer Police Department Sgt. Eric Ennis and  Officer Crystal Hogan, Granite Quarry Police Chief Mark Cook and, from the Center for Access to Justice, attorney David Post. The diverse audience also heard from members of the police cadet program, Neighborhood Watch and victim’s advocacy.

When the panel was asked to name the greatest threat and opportunity for our communities, all representatives said drug abuse and addiction, and the selling of those drugs, represent the greatest threat. Drug use does not discriminate and impacts individuals, families, youth and the community.

One of the greatest needs identified was for communities to provide support, including access to mental health services. Our history reveals that drug use and addiction many times lead to criminal prosecution through the court systems and many times leaves the drug user without needed treatment.

Seniors are experiencing high occurrences of fraud and fraudulent schemes. It was identified that within the judicial systems there is a need to provide more legal assistance and the judicial system is often overloaded because of lack of resources.

There are many resources within our legal system communities, including clothing, food, transitional housing through partner resources, police athletic leagues, camps for use, church security plans, sponsorships supporting Special Olympics and Relay for Life, citizens’ academy, senior check-in, church programs highlighting fraud prevention, gang education, and victim advocacy, to name a few.

In every conversation, non-profits are featured to provide information about the resources and services they provide. The non-profit spotlight organization for this forum was Rufty-Holmes Senior Center; Steve Simpson provided information on activities and resources provided at the center.

Project COVER is asking for the help of corporations, business, and individuals to build the resource network for the Salisbury-Rowan communities. Volunteers and financial assistance are greatly appreciated to help make this a reality.

We ask that the community become more engaged and knowledgeable. Join us for our next forum of Conversations from the Porch on April 19 at 6 p.m. (Location to be determined.)

Project COVER is a non-profit 501c3 providing services to the community through reading literacy K-4th grades, food pantry and feeding (winter months), leadership and diversity training, family service skill development, small business incubator, and “Conversations from the Porch.”

Debra Ellison is pastor of At The Cross Ministries, 1915-1917 W. Innes St. Suite 103 and pastor board chair for Project COVER (Community, Outreach, Vocational, Educational, Resource Center). For more information on volunteering, being a spotlight non-profit organization, or contributing financially, please call 704.782.0072-weekdays.