Rowan Helping Ministries working to feed rising homeless population

Published 12:05 am Friday, September 1, 2023

SALISBURY — Rowan Helping Ministries serves three meals, 365 days a year to the homeless community in Rowan County. That means that the organization has to work to find both volunteers and supplies for 1,095 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Before 2020 and before COVID-19, that gargantuan task was generally simpler, according to Executive Director Kyna Grubb.

“We generally have organizations that agree that they will come on the third Thursday of every month. or they’ll do the first Tuesday every third month. But when the COVID pandemic was affecting everybody, a lot of our volunteers said they weren’t able to help out anymore. And that was because a lot of them were older and so they were particularly vulnerable,” said Grubb.

That year, Grubb noted that several organizations stepped forward to fill the holes left by groups that could not safely help. The Salisbury-Rowan Runners group, a non-profit made up of avid runners and walkers from the area, was one of those groups. Grubb said the group served their first meal in 2020, and before the year was over they had celebrated their 100th.

Helping Ministries relies on groups like the runners to help them feed and serve the homeless community. In 2023, the homeless population has surged, making that job all the more difficult. Grubb noted that although she could not speak to the number of meals that remain open for volunteers, the organization could always use more help.

There are no qualifiers for who can volunteer to help out at Rowan Helping Ministries. Grubb says the organization mostly has churches volunteer, but they have also had school groups, businesses and other non-profits work to prepare and serve their meals. Anyone age 12 and up can be in the group, so long as those between 12 and 16 are accompanied by adults.

Outside of preparing and serving meals, there are also other ways a prospective volunteer can get involved. Those 16 and up can work as food pantry shoppers or stockers in three hour shifts and 18 and older can volunteer as laundry folders. The group also looks for volunteer drivers to pick up food donations from various stores and restaurants across the county and deliver them to the Helping Ministries building on Long Street in Salisbury.

One recent volunteer group was a group of food truck drivers and operators that normally congregate at the Rowan County Fairgrounds on Tuesdays and in Lexington on Thursdays.

“We’re over at Food Truck Tuesdays and we see the community out there, but what about the ones who want to come but can’t afford it? That’d be the homeless, and we just came up with a list of trucks that we see on a day-to-day basis, and we just decided to come out here and help make them smile,” said Tranise Brown, who helps organize Food Truck Tuesdays.

For information on how to volunteer, contact Rowan Helping Ministry’s Volunteer Manager Marissa Gainey at or call at 704-637-6838 extension number 112.