In late summer of 2018, I was asked if I would consider being a member of the Board of Directors for Rowan Helping Ministries. In working as a local police officer, I was somewhat familiar with the ministry, but I did not truly realize the depths of its ministry until I took on the role of Board Member. One of the first things I realized was that it was not referred to as the shelter, but instead as the ministry. After the first few meetings, I began to realize why it is called Rowan Helping Ministries.
Rowan Helping Ministries (RHM) originated in 1967. Originally the ministry was the product of several local churches working together to meet the needs of those in the community. There was not one specific building that housed the ministry, instead the churches shared the duties of meeting the needs. Over time, the ministry grew and eventually in 1989 it was officially housed at 226 N. Long Street where it remains today.
Programs & Ministry Opportunities
The Shelter is the most known of the ministries provided by RHM. The Shelter is designed to provide a safe place for individuals and families to eat dinner, shower, sleep, and eat breakfast. This service is available for any resident of Rowan County who is in need of somewhere to go. There are rules that are designed to help encourage the long term well-being of individuals who have found themselves in need of somewhere to stay. The ministry provides guidance and assistance with getting individuals on the right track to regaining permanent housing. The shower facilities are also available to homeless individuals who are not sleeping in the shelter.
Jeannie’s Kitchen is responsible for providing a lunch meal to anyone that would like to eat. This meal is open to all without qualification. On Sundays, a short service and meal are provided by God’s Table.
Eagles’ Nest Transitional Housing is designed to help homeless individuals and families in the community who have begun working transition from homelessness to a permanent housing situation. Residents in these apartments are required to follow rules, make payments, and take classes to help them get on a track to a stable future.
Crisis Assistance is designed to help individuals who are struggling to pay their bills or in need of groceries or clothing. Eligibility is determined for these services after providing an application and meeting with a member of the RHM staff. Rowan County residents are able to inquire about these services Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
RHM East and RHM West are two additional pantries that have been set up to assist with members of the community that live in Eastern and Western Rowan County. These food pantries do not follow the same hours as the main ministry.
Food for Thought is one of the newest additions to RHM. This program works to meet the needs of hungry students in our community. The ministry is working to ensure that children who may not have access to food outside of school are provided with food. This ministry has grown rapidly and continues to do so.
The Community Garden is one of the most recent projects. The food produced in this garden will be used in the food pantry as well as for meals prepared by Jeannie’s Kitchen.
There are several ways in which Rowan Helping Ministries depends on those in to community to help meet the needs of individuals utilizing the services provided at the ministry. When speaking with Director Kyna Grubb, I asked her what the one thing would be that she would like the community to know and she said, “Rowan Helping Ministries is a loving community in action, neighbor helping neighbor.”
Donations are welcomed at the ministry. Food donations, clothing donations, pillows, and blankets as well as monetary donations help ensure that the ministry is able to meet the needs of those in the community. There are several months where the food pantry is almost bare. There are partnerships with some of the local grocery stores however with approximately 75 families being served each day through the crisis assistance program involvement from the community is vital. Each month the ministry provides a needs list and posts this list on their website as well as their Facebook page.
Planned Giving is a way of setting up a plan for donating to the shelter at a later date. This may be at the time of your death, retirement, or some other event in the future. The staff at RHM will assist you in any way in developing a plan for giving at a later date.
Volunteering is one way to bless others and receive a blessing yourself. The ministry accepts volunteers to assist with cooking, serving meals, stocking the pantry, sorting clothing donations, and in several other ways. Some volunteer opportunities are working directly alongside shelter guests while others do not require interaction. There are some age restrictions with certain volunteering areas, however there are ways for all ages to get involved.
The shelter has several different community events throughout the year. These events can be located on the Rowan Helping Ministries website, or on their Facebook page. This year there are a couple of events remaining, the Annual Meeting on September 17 and Feed the Need on October 17. The fall food drive will also take place October 26-November 3.
We’re All Family
One of the things I love most about Rowan County is how we all work together to make our county the best. The reason Rowan Helping Ministries is able to provide for the needs of those in our community is because of the love and support from the local residents. Many volunteers have different reasons for volunteering, but they all come with a passion to help. I asked one of my longtime friends, Jacque Thomas, who volunteers regularly what drives her to always be willing to donate her time and resources, Jacque said, “Getting a glimpse of what Christ sees and feels for us. I am able to create relationships with people and see them as my brothers and sisters. Also, I feel closest to Christ when I am serving others because that is what His whole life was spent doing, serving others regardless of their situations.” The mission of Rowan Helping Ministries is simple, “To serve, through cooperative community action, our neighbors in Rowan County who are in crisis, by providing essential life needs and educating and empowering them to break the cycle of crisis.”