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RHM: Needs ‘still great’ but numbers stabilizing

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

As a rule, organizations generally aren’t happy when their numbers go down — unless you’re Rowan Helping Ministries.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the large increases in need we have experienced over the past eight years are slowing and stabilizing,” said Kyna Grubb, RHM’s executive director, during the annual meeting Tuesday evening. “Needs are still great, but I hope this is good news.

“The past two years, we have provided just under $900,000 in financial assistance. For many years, this was an increasing number. It is nice to see it flat. The number of homeless individuals sheltered is up 5 percent. This is still up by 50 percent from 2010 but no longer increasing at a dramatic rate.”

In addition to hearing Grubb’s report on the past year, the agency — celebrating its 30th year —welcomed new board members. The class of 2019 includes Carolyn Barker, Christy Cline, Keith Cunningham, David Hall, Dick Huffman, David B. Jordan, Cheryl Marsh, Tim Messinger and Willie McCoy.

Messinger was elected board chair, with McCoy as vice chair, Scott Jones as secretary, and Cunningham as treasurer.

James Davis is in his first year as a returning board member. “I first served on the board 25 years ago or more,” said Davis, a local attorney. “I wanted to come back because I knew all the good deeds RHM does. I wanted to be plugged in and make a difference on a board that really works. They don’t let you sit down!”

John Calvin Presbyterian Church hosted the event, which was appropriate as Crisis Assistance Network started decades ago in the church’s basement. Church members provided salad, desserts, beverages and condiments to the meal prepared by Nate Valentine, RHM’s food manager.

Sabra Mills, a church member and the daughter of the late Haywood Cope, Crisis Assistance Network’s co-founder, offered the blessing before the meal.

“The path didn’t always seem easy, but you provided the way,” Mills said. “And although there will be future challenges, we know with your help and guidance, anything is possible.”

The mood of the evening was upbeat, and included a report from Maria Lowder, outgoing board chair.

“We did have a successful year, thanks to each and every one of you,” she told the audience of nearly 100 RHM board members, staff members, volunteers and donors.

Lowder said that nearly 92 percent of every dollar received goes directly to client programs.

One of this year’s initiatives is to grow RHM’s Hope Fund — the agency’s endowment — from $1.5 million to $5 million in the next five years. Anyone who is interested in remembering RHM in estate planning is invited to contact the agency.

There are a number of special events — a dozen in all — planned for RHM’s 30th anniversary year. For a complete listing of these events, visit the Web site at www.rowanhelpingministries.org and click on events.

Additionally, Dianne Scott, RHM’s executive director from 1990 to 2010, is heading up the Rowan Helping Memories program, in which individuals can video their favorite memories through the years.

“The beauty of Rowan Helping Ministries is the diversity of what you see every day, and the beauty of thousands of volunteers who have put God’s love into action,” Scott said in her own video. “I know the volunteers give a lot. I know that they receive way more than they give. I know. That’s what happened to me.”

Grubb also noted the recent renovation of the Ralph W. Ketner Crisis Assistance Center. Although Ketner, an RHM supporter from its beginning, died this spring, he was able to see the building as renovations began, Grubb said.

Tuesday would have been Ketner’s 96th birthday, so it was an appropriate day for RHM to celebrate 30 years of giving back to the community that Ketner loved.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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