By John Bailey
Considering the challenges our community faced last year, the Catawba County United Way reached out to its 2020 funded partners to get their thoughts on the year that was and the year ahead.
Together, these agencies and their programs served thousands of individuals and families in need.
Below are thoughts from eight of the CCUW’s 14 funded partners.
Mark Bumgarner – Adult Life Programs
We’ve charted a course through the unknown, and in many ways have been leaders nationwide. We were one of the very first adult day services centers to re-open, and our re-opening plan was used by the states of California, Virginia and Ohio as a resource. We’ve been innovative with how we provide our services through meal delivery, telehealth options and assisting with obtaining essential services for clients in order to allow them to stay safe and at home.
We have assisted other non-profits (ECCCM, Hickory Soup Kitchen, GHCCM) by providing staff and helped CVMC with transportation.
Whatever 2021 brings ALP knows we can handle it and will continue to serve our participants, families and community with the same aplomb and pluck we found in 2020.
Scott Loudermelt – Blue Ridge Piedmont Chapter American Red Cross
When I think back on what has occurred in the past 12 months, I think about those we have served, those who have given their time to help our mission, and our community who has never failed to support our mission.
While there have been many challenges and moments of great uncertainty, the lesson from 2020 is that we are resilient beyond measure. All our services have had to adapt to our new reality and have done so with the spirit of hopefulness. It has not been easy, but I believe we will be better for this experience.
Our wish for the new year is that we continue to embrace these challenges with the same sense of hope, faith, and caring.
Rev. Susan Smith – Exodus Homes
Our 73-bed program supporting transitional housing for those recently released from treatment centers/prison (Exodus Homes), our vocational training program (Exodus Works), the Exodus New Life Thrift Store and our offices have all remained open throughout the pandemic. We cannot close or work from home.
We are used to financial stress and this year we learned how to manage pandemic disease prevention. We are tired and worn, but we refuse to be defeated. We are still here and our prayer for 2021 is that we can continue putting the pedal to the metal and keep going because we know this won't be over any time soon.
Michele Francois – Senior Nutrition Services
Senior Nutrition Services has also persevered. We have continued to deliver meals to our Meals on Wheels clients and added two more delivery routes during the pandemic (for a total of 30 routes). We look forward to the time when we are able to safely re-open our Seniors Morning Out sites.
In the meanwhile, we are also delivering meals to our seniors who would have normally received a hot meal at one of the SMO sites. We have also been able to continue our “frozen meals” program to assure that there is no waiting period for seniors in need of our services.
Angela Lawrence – Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center
While 2020 has been difficult, our agency has many things to be thankful for—the flexibility of our Augustine Literacy Project tutors to learn new technology, the resilience of the students we serve, the perseverance of the teachers we have trained in Orton-Gillingham, and the generosity of the people of Catawba County.
However, we look forward to being back in person with our students and being able to host parent events again when it is safe to do so. We hope to find even more ways to serve struggling readers because we know the achievement gap is growing due to the pandemic.
Libby Throckmorton – Partnership for Children
The Catawba County Partnership for Children has experienced many challenges in 2020, as have all our community partners. With creativity and determination, our program staff have developed new ways to continue providing critical services to families, children and childcare facilities. Support for childcare, which is vital for keeping essential workers on their jobs, has been of particular importance during the COVID crisis.
We have been very proud of our providers for adhering to updated sanitation and management guidelines, and we’re pleased to say that our childcare community has rebounded well. Participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library continues to be very strong, and we’re thrilled to be placing quality reading and learning resources in families’ hands when learning at home has become so important.
Kathy Wood – Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry
2020 has no doubt been full of challenges as well as successes. For GHCCM, we had so many community partners share their staff and resources to ensure that we were able to continue to provide for our neighbors. We could never have made it without these amazing partners.
The community also shared their generosity with donations and prayers. Our staff was amazing and embraced the frequent changes as we learned to navigate this pandemic. Serving our neighbors continues, and the numbers have steadily increased. There are many people who found themselves in need in 2020, who may never have been in need before.
Our hopes for 2021 is that our community continues to collaborate so we can all provide hope, help, and healing for all.
LaWanda Brown – Family Guidance Center
The year of 2020 will certainly go down in the Family Guidance record book as a test of endurance and perseverance. Last year, like the rest of the world, we had to pivot and revamp our services to remote accessibility.
March began with planning for our staff to be certified and able to provide tele-mental health, DV, SA, CCCS and Nurturing Adolescents Services.
This resulted in over three thousand clients suffering from domestic violence being served, over 750 sexual assault clients being served. Our shelter provided 349 full bed nights with most of our DV and sexual assault survivors staying an average of three months.
Our DV and SA programs were able to assist clients with rent, hotel expense, transportation, clothing, utilities with funding through the Council for Women and Youth Involvement and CARES ACT.