By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Women United, a group for women affiliated with United Way of the Ocoee Region, has made a $1,000 donation to a local nonprofit, The Caring Place. The Caring Place Executive Director Dr. Randy …
Women United, a group for women affiliated with United Way of the Ocoee Region, has made a $1,000 donation to a local nonprofit, The Caring Place.
The Caring Place Executive Director Dr. Randy Howard was the featured speaker at the group's recent gathering.
Howard gave the group an overview of The Caring Place's mission and services and shared some goals for the future.
"It is a Christian, ecumenical organization that has the mission of administering the love of Christ to help the physical, social and spiritual need of families here in our community," Howard said. "It is a marvelous place."
He explained the organization is best known for its "emergency relief services," which provide food, clothing and other help to families and individuals facing immediate needs. It is also known for its Sac Pac program, which helps address the problem of childhood hunger by providing bags of food to children in local schools prior to each weekend.
However, staff there have also been making an effort to help families caught in the cycle of poverty escape it. An estimated 75 percent of clients visit The Caring Place just three times, Howard said. However, there are some who habitually need the organization's help.
"We want to move people," Howard said. "We don't want to just plug the gap; we want to move people forward in their journey to overcome barriers ... and get to stability with them if we can."
It has launched a program called "Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin' By World," which teaches adults the skills they need to take steps to distance themselves from lives of poverty. Lessons touch on everything from making a household budget to setting career goals.
He told the stories of a couple individuals The Caring Place and its social work team had already helped overcome issues like homelessness. He said he expects the "Getting Ahead" program will help more families overcome whatever has caused them to live in poverty.
Howard said students in pilot cohort of this program have made positive progress, and he is eager to see how many people will be affected by this program once it fully launches.
Howard said The Caring Place has greatly benefitted from numerous community partnerships, and he is hopeful the community will embrace this program.
Referencing the recent food drive hosted by Southern Heritage Bank, he said the community has ensured the organization's food supplies are "overflowing" in advance of this holiday season. He also spoke on "Make A Change Day," a day on which Bradley County Schools raised $17,000 to support the Sac Pac program.
However, he stressed families face needs all year long, including in the spring and summer months, when major food drives and fundraisers are typically not held. The Caring Place always welcomes new volunteers and donations.
For more information on The Caring Place, visit http://thecaringplaceonline.org or call 423-472-4414.
Women United leader Ashlan Morelock said she and the rest of the group were happy to be able to help The Caring Place with their donation.
During the meeting, Morelock also announced the group's next big fundraiser, "An Evening Along the River's Edge," is set to take place March 24, 2018.
This event will be at the Hiwassee River Wedding and Events venue in Delano and feature a cocktail reception and a "farm-to-table" dinner. A "party bus" is also being chartered to transport people from Cleveland to that locale.
The group is currently inviting people to sponsor tables for eight, with sponsorship levels starting at $1,500. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We want to move people. We don't want to just plug the gap; we want to move people forward in their journey to overcome barriers ... and get to stability with them if we can." — Dr. Randy Howard
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