• 72°

Former shelter guest kicks off Rowan Helping Ministries campaign

Giving back

Eric Rice

Rowan Helping Ministries

SALISBURY — Eric Rice had a lot — a home, friends, hobbies and aspirations. But when his landlord unexpectantly sold the property he was renting to developers, he was forced to abandon his mobile home, pack up his belongings and head to Rowan Helping Ministries.

Although Rice said he would not describe his life as lavish, he never thought he would find himself in a homeless shelter.

Rice attributes his happy memories of childhood to a close bond with his father. After his father’s death, he realized how much he relied on his father to get by. He took care of all the family finances. Rice’s difficulty budgeting or managing bill payments seemed to play a part in his misfortune.

Rice said he found himself using alcohol to numb the pain of the loss of his father and the troubles that followed. But when he learned that Rowan Helping Ministries is a shelter with a zero-tolerance policy, he sought out Alcoholics Anonymous and began attending skills classes through the organization’s New Tomorrows program, a requirement assigned by his case manager.

Rice had a background in technology, so he was drawn to classes that used computers such as resumé building or employability labs lead by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. But he found it increasingly difficult to accomplish certain tasks with devices that were more than a decade old.

Jeanne LeMaster, Rowan Helping Ministries’ education and transitional manager, allowed Rice to work on some of the agency’s laptops so they ran more efficiently. But the quick fix was not guaranteed to last forever, and new computers were not in the budget at the time.

After Rice heard back from his lawyer about a disability settlement that had been in the works for more than four years, he moved out of the shelter into affordable housing using many of the life skills he learned during his stay at the shelter.

Wanting to give back to the organization that helped him in his darkest times, Rice made a donation to Rowan Helping Ministries for the purchase of new computers for the New Tomorrows program. The computers arrived just in time for the organization’s new fiscal year and start of the annual “Why Give in July?” campaign.

“We rely so heavily on technology for everything,” Rice said. “You can’t do anything without a computer. If you try to apply for a job, they tell you to go online and fill out an application. Technology is becoming increasingly essential nowadays.”

Rice commended the Rowan Helping Ministries staff, particularly LeMaster.

“If these computers help the guests gain employment, learn a new skill, or just make Jeanne smile, it’ll make it all worthwhile,” said Rice.

John Struzick also made a donation to the “Why Give in July?” campaign. Struzick, who is the manufacturing financial manager for Innospec Performance Chemical’s Salisbury and High Point facilities, applied for the employer’s charitable giving program called “Innospec Cares,” which matches employee contributions.

“The Innospec Cares scheme supports the great work Innospec employees undertake in raising money to give to charities, local communities, and good cause initiatives close to their heart,” said Helen Coy of the Innospec Cares Steering Group.

Rowan Helping Ministries launched its Why Give in July? campaign with a direct mailing to past and present supporters. The goal for this year’s campaign is $60,000.

“Joining Innospec as a sponsor for the campaign are Sandy Goodman, David B. Jordan, Tim and Ellen Messinger, and Mark and Jane Ritchie. We are grateful for their generosity,” said Kyna Grubb, Rowan Helping Ministries’ executive director.

Last summer, donors who contributed to the campaign provided more than $77,000 in assistance to 349 families. The Crisis Assistance Network provided:

  • $25,000 for overdue rent to keep 88 families and individuals from being evicted.
  • $30,000 for overdue utility bills to keep electricity or water from being turned off.
  • $17,000 to prevent water disconnection for more than 70 families.

Clients also can receive groceries from the food pantry and clothing from the clothing center. Clothing was provided to 966 families, and more than 110,000 pounds of food was distributed through the pantry last summer.

Donations to the Why Give in July? campaign can be mailed to Rowan Helping Ministries, 226 N. Long St., Salisbury, NC 28144. Donations also can be made at www.rowanhelpingministries.org/updates/whygiveinjuly or by calling Karen Taylor at 704-637-6838, Ext. 100.

Comments

Education

RSS teachers adapting classrooms to the pandemic

Education

Shoutouts

Coronavirus

County launches paramedic program for those recovering COVID-19

Education

Cooper directs $95.6 million for students affected by COVID-19

Education

RCCC named school on the rise

Local

Conversations get started on planning for diversity mural, street painting

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomes new teachers

Education

Study highlights need to improve food environments around NC’s HBCUs

Coronavirus

County reports new COVID-19 death outside of nursing home

Crime

Man robbed at gunpoint at South Main Street gas station

Business

Embracing the outdoors: downtown restaurants, coffee shops work to expand outdoor seating

Local

Spencer man killed after being knocked into ditch by vehicle on Old Concord Road

Local

Activists talk tear gas ban, renaming police officers, Confederate streets during mock council meeting

Local

Woman found dead in converted swimming pool

Crime

Pair face felony charges for utility trailer theft

News

NC lawmakers want Cooper to seek Trump’s extended benefits

Education

Catawba alumnus Jonathan Barbee throws hat in school board race

Crime

Blotter: August 12

Education

RSS to pay out $240,000 share of CARES Act funds to private schools

Local

Commissioners approve new bonuses to help recruit environmental health specialists

Coronavirus

30 people now positive at Autumn Care nursing home

Local

Greensboro man receives third-degree burns, fire trucks damaged during interstate collision

News

Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Business

Local produce packing company announces recall of citrus, potatoes