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Rowan Helping Ministries had busy year

By Rebecca Rider
rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A lot has changed at Rowan Helping Ministries this year. The non-profit, which mans Rowan County’s homeless shelter, as well as offers crisis services to those in need, held its annual corporate meeting Tuesday evening at Trinity Oaks.

More than 99,600 meals were served in Jeannie’s Kitchen during the 2017-18 fiscal year, and the shelter provided beds for approximately 845 men, women and children. The organization also distributed nearly 800,000 pounds of food between its Salisbury and West Rowan locations. And its services are needed more now than ever. While some parts of Rowan County have bounced back after the recession, others are still struggling.

“While people with middle and upper incomes may see improvements in the economy, this is not the case for families in poverty,” said Kyna Grubb, Rowan Helping Ministries executive director.

Additionally, the shelter has seen an increase in guests who are struggling with severe trauma, stress or mental health-related issues.

“A root cause of many of our guests’ challenges lies in stress-related issues,” Grubb said.

To help provide them the services they need, Rowan Helping Ministries this year partnered with Lyerly Counseling Services, to help guests learn coping mechanisms or provide other training and resources.

In 2017, Rowan Helping Ministries took over the operation of Food for Thought, a program which sends backpacks full of food home with students in need. By the end of the 2016-17 school year, Food for Thought was serving approximately 769 students in 27 schools — up from the roughly 600 students served before Rowan Helping Ministries took over. With restructured organization, better packaging and nutrition, and streamlined strategy, Grubb said they hope to reach 900 students by the end of the school year.

So far this school year, Food for Thought is providing backpacks to more than 500 students.

“A year ago today — almost four weeks into the school year — we had not even sent the first bag home,” she said.”

Food for Thought now also has an emergency protocol, so that bags can be packed and sent home with students in the case of an unexpected school closure. Thanks to that forethought, Food for Thought was able to provide backpacks to participating students during Hurricane Florence.

“We were not expecting to need that until later in the year,” Grubb said with a chuckle.

The shelter has also set up a partnership with the City of Salisbury. The city will waive background checks for individuals Rowan Helping Ministries recommends, and consider them for seasonal maintenance work.

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, Rowan Helping Ministries also hired its first Housing Coordinator. This individual helps guests work towards rental and home-owning goals.

Grubb also announced plans for Rowan Helping Ministries to open a location in East Rowan. The organization will partner with Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church to provide food pantry services.

Ultimately, however, Grubb said, none of Rowan Helping Ministries’ work would be possible without the help of volunteers, staff, its foundation or those who donate.

“I cannot say thank you enough,” she said. “… Please never forget that you are the key to people in Rowan County receiving our support.”

For more information about Rowan Helping Ministries please visit www.rowanhelpingministries.org.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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