The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 13, 2013

Churches, DSS teaming up to help community


TARBORO — In an effort to form a coalition that will help Edgecombe County's low-income families who are struggling to make ends meet, the Rev. Jonah Walston is calling for area pastors to join him 11 a.m. Tuesday at Abram's Barbecue in Tarboro.

Walston said he will ask the pastors to donate money monthly that will be distributed to families to pay rent, buy food, pay utilities and for other necessities. The money collected will be given to Edgecombe County Department of Social Service where it will be distributed. Potential clients could go to DSS or the churches for referrals. DSS will screen all applicants.

"There are lots of people who are struggling pay there light bills for a variety of different reasons," Walston said. "Some are working parttime, some not working at all and some who unemployment have been cut completely off. Then there are some who are working full time but still don't have enough money to pay for their lights. We can help them."

DSS Director Marva Scott said she was excited about the collaborate effort between her department and Walston's proposed organization. A similar minister organization in Rocky Mount could be the model that Walston's proposed organization uses. Filing in the Gap (FIG) assists only Rocky Mount residents.

"So often many people go to church when they need help," Scott said. "It is working well in Rocky Mount and it will help tremendously in Edgecombe County. The money that they give will make a difference in families lives."

Edgecombe is near the bottom in just about every poverty statistic amongst the 100 counties in the state. One of the most grievance is unemployment rate. Edgecombe has hovered in double figures for more than five years. Majority of those months they were ranked in the bottom 10 including 99th in August.

"There are lots of people in Edgecombe County who want to work but can't work because there are no jobs available," Walston said. "They have children and they need help. We see so many children that are hurting and its not there fault. If we as pastors are in a position to help I believe we should.

"I'm asking all pastors to come to this meeting and bring your expression and energy so that we can help people in our area," Walston said. "The bible says feed those who are hungry, clothes those who are naked and visited those who are in prison. We have a lot to cover as pastors."

Scott, Betty Battle, DSS deputy director and Bobbie Williams, income marketing administrators have planned to attend the meeting.

"We looking forward to teaming up with the church to try to fulfill a great need in Edgecombe County," Scott said. "This says a lot about our community and the people in Edgecombe County. It shows that they care. We are so grateful for Pastor Walston and his church for doing this.  "I'm appreciative from our agency as well as me personally."