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Gaston Baptist Social Ministries assistance programs.

Staff from Baptist Social Ministries can serve the needy and low income in Gaston County. They provide assistance from a faith based center that serves as a clearing house, and various forms of financial aid as well as basic support, such as food or clothing, is available. In addition, specialists from Gaston Baptist Social Ministries will try to direct qualified low income families to other government benefits or charities in the southern North Carolina region for their needs.

Emergency assistance may be offered in some situation. If so, the objective of any help provided is to support income qualified families and individuals who are desperate of short term assistance. All resources are very limited, and individuals will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, if they meet qualifications. There will appointments needed, and the exact type of support administered to an applicant will be determined by filling out an intake form. Based on the results of the applications and an interview process, staff from Gaston Baptist Social Ministries will provide what they can in order to help a client become self-sufficient.

Food and financial help with bills from Baptist Social Ministries

Food pantries are located at Gaston Baptist Social Ministries affiliated churches. Based on donation levels and what the applicant qualifies for, there may be a few days worth of free groceries or a box of food passed out. People can only use the pantry a limited number of time in a twelve-month period, although in emergency situations this general rule can be extended with priority approval.

Based on usage at the location, is has been determined that many new and nontraditional families need some type of short term assistance, including many seniors and single parents. There are also an increasing number of requests from residents of Gaston County that are having a difficult time finding employment or a job that allows them to pay all of their bills. The goal of the service is to help clothe as well as feed families, seniors and working poor single people who are in desperate need and are facing hunger.

Any aid comes with conditions. After an initial interview with the applicant, the center has basic guidelines that determine if financial assistance will be given. If found to be qualified, funds for homeless prevention, which also includes money for utility bills, is available in some instances. The Gaston Baptist Social Ministries will provide everything from grants for living expenses to homeless prevention case management and other supportive services. This is offered to residents with a pay or quit notice, or maybe a impending disconnection from their electric or gas company.




Some families are just too far behind, or do not have the means to sustain their rent or mortgage payments on their own. In these instances, the staff will refer tenants to other resources, such as TANF or section 8. These government welfare benefits and the services from the case managers who run them may be better options to help resolve the housing issues and stabilize the individual.

The emergency services have been helping “neighbors” for many years, and they are offered across North Carolina. From the main office in Gaston County, the charity uses donations from the community or government grants. There are also trained and dedicated volunteers that will sit down with each family and determine how to best resolve the immediate crisis.

While some solutions are noted above, other options are available. They include emergency food, loans to help to prevent eviction or the shut off of heat, or even occasional support for medical issues. Income qualified, needy families are referred to the charity by social workers, and generally receive assistance for a few days. Note they rarely pay an entire bill, but instead a small dollar amount is pledged and then the client can get help in identifying solutions for the remaining balance.

Children from Gastonia are also a focus of the churches. In an effort to help them, the ministry will provide free school supplies (based on donation levels) during the summer and fall months. Then, when December roles around, meals or small toys may be passed out during Christmas. The aim is to spread holiday cheer in the region, and give children some type of gift to open.





Budgeting and financial literacy

First, an interview will occur. Based on the results, which will identify their income, credit scores and expenses, the process will involve developing a Plan of Action. Every person and situation is different, so Gaston Baptist Social Ministries won't have rigid income restrictions when it comes to obtaining advice.

They offer Financial Management as well as budgeting. This education will involve well trained volunteers taking an in-depth look at the household's finances. They will assess income, expenses, and help them examine their purchases and establish a budget. This education and guidance helps a family gain the ability to pay their bills consistently, on time and more importantly, develop a plan for their future.

The programs above are intended to help struggling residents bridge the gap until they can achieve self-sufficiency in partnership with a case manager.  Compassionate volunteers as well as full time staff from Gaston Baptist Social Ministries understand that it’s difficult to think long term and gain self-sufficiency if the household is hungry or they are about to be evicted. More support is available from the ministry and their churches, and the primary address in Gastonia is 1607 Rankin Lake Rd, and the phone number is (704) 867-9559.




By Jon McNamara

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