One cutting edge idea – the Duffyfield Community Resource Hub – will bridge the gap between disadvantaged New Bern residents and the nonprofit services many desperately need.
It is slated to open in August at a property owned by Abundant Life Community Services, which has served African Americans and other minorities in Duffyfield and surrounding areas for decades.
“A resource center will bring services to the doorstep of the community,” said Pastor Hazel Royal of Abundant Life. “It will be a one-stop-shop. The Resource Center will be the model for low-resource and underserved communities.”
Abundant Life works in partnership with Craven Resource Council agencies such as Religious Community Services, Craven County Habitat for Humanity, MERCI Clinic and others.
The Resource Council was an initiative of Habitat, which builds houses and has a neighborhood revitalization program.
“They (the nonprofits) will bring satellite offices to the residents of Duffyfield,” Royal said. “Each agency will take a day to provide service to the office, rather than having people travel to these various places to get resources and services. ”
The resource center will be located in a house belonging to the church on Beaufort Street, open on weekdays.
There are ongoing efforts for individual donations, grants and other sources of funding.
“It’s a great and great opportunity for residents that we can have foot traffic,” she said. “Transportation has been a barrier for a lot of people. We are tackling the transportation barrier.”
One component of the hub will be the ability to make multiple referrals.
“A lot of times with families you go to one place and it’s not the place you need to go. Then you have to go to another and you keep getting referred,” she said. “We hope to eliminate this.”
Another component will be family life education, with a family life educator on site, who will be there to guide families through the various services to see what their needs are; and develop a file on each person to be able to follow up.
“It will equip and empower family members to develop knowledge and skills that enhance well-being and strengthen interpersonal relationships through an educational, preventive and strengths-based approach,” said Royal. “This will include skills such as strong communication, good decision-making, positive self-esteem and healthy interpersonal relationships. The family life educator will teach these skills to foster positive individual and family development so that families can function properly. ”
A new effort from Bern called at the cutting edge of technology
The plan to combine the satellite offices of several nonprofits into one physical site is unique in eastern North Carolina and the entire state.
David Heinen, vice president of public policy and advocacy at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, said there are similar models in the state, with varying degrees in their approach.
“It’s innovative, a really smart model,” he said of the Duffyfield plan. “I don’t know if it’s the only one like it, but it’s definitely at the forefront of the trend to provide shared services in this way. I think it’s definitely on the cutting edge of technology. ”
He said the only comparative project that comes to his mind is the Charlotte Child and Family Service Center.
“I think it’s a smart trend in nonprofits to think about new ways to collaborate, especially when it comes to referral, staffing and volunteers,” he said.
April King, head of the Council of Nonprofits at the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was not aware of any other similar endeavors, adding that it strengthens an already strong bond between New Bern non-profit organizations.
“With the House Nonprofit Council, I assumed every county had this,” she said. “I assumed that was the norm and it isn’t. Obviously, you can’t find nonprofits working together like this.
One of the goals of the hub is to reduce the problem of duplication and overlap of services.
Zeb Hough, executive director of Religious Community Services, said the Hub allows RCS to continue efforts to expand beyond its George Street campus, such as its Outpost food distributions to counties in the region.
Mass work cannot be done alone
Royal said local nonprofits were not using a proven model elsewhere to plan the resource center.
“Abundant Life nonprofit community services are the ones leading the charge, working with partner agencies,” said Royal. “This is a vision that I and Abundant Life Community Services had for a long time. Then, by talking to various agencies, we all wanted to do it. It was also the vision of others. So we came together to Arangez for that to happen. ”
Royal said the key to all of this is collaboration.
“The colossal work that needs to be done in our communities cannot be done alone,” she said. “Partnership is the way to do it. ”
She added that the efforts of private nonprofits “are removing some of this bureaucracy from government. There is a little more leeway.”
However, government assistance is not excluded.
“We are looking for all partners. We welcome the opportunity for anyone to help us,” she said.
Abundant Life has a heritage of two decades
The Abundant Life Miracle Center non-denominational church was founded 35 years ago by Pastor George Royal, husband of Pastor Hazel Royal. Both are from New Bern.
Since 2000, the church’s Abundant Life Community Services have organized a free community food distribution every second Tuesday of the month, serving nearly two million pounds of food – in partnership with the East and Central Food Bank. North Carolina.
Boxes of food are packed at the Abundant Life Miracle Center at 1901 Garden St., Duffyfield, where about 200 families pick them up per month from 11 a.m. to noon. Since the start of the pandemic, it has been a drive-thru.
“They are city wide, all communities connected,” Royal said. “We are intercultural and serve all ethnic groups.”
They include Latinos and Caucasians, the majority being African Americans.
ALCS has also been there for disasters, such as Hurricane Florence of 2018, donating 100,000 pounds of food.
“During Hurricane Florence, we had a large community of Asians,” she said.
In the last 17 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has risen to 125,000 pounds of food.
Another ongoing program is juvenile delinquency prevention mentoring and counseling for at-risk youth and youth who have come into conflict with the law.
There are also after-school programs and summer camps.
An adult program focuses on affordable housing.
“Our church owns properties in the community and we are currently working with RCS and the homeless population to provide permanent transitional housing,” said Royal.
Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or at [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Charlie Hall.