By Karen Cimino Wilson
Cooperative Christian Ministry of Concord officials hope to receive some of the $55,778 earmarked to help Cabarrus County residents hit hard by the economic downturn.
The ministry has had a 300 percent increase in the number families it helps in the last year, said Ed Hosack, executive director of the Cooperative Christian Ministry.
“The needs in our area are tremendous,” Hosack said. “There’s been no slow down since the first of the year.”
U.S. Congressman Larry Kissell announced last week that $620,535 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will come to North Carolina’s Eighth District through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.
The money can be used for a variety of services including feeding and shelter programs and food pantries. Cooperative Christian Ministry of Concord operates six pantries. Two of the six are new to the ministry. One was opened last month in southern Cabarrus County. The ministry also helped keep the Kannapolis Food Pantry at Westpoint Baptist Church from shutting down.
“Our households requesting food assistance was up 117 percent,” Hosack said.
The money also can be used to help pay mortgage and utility payments to prevent evictions, and to assist in the transition from shelters to stable living conditions.
Hosack said more Cabarrus County residents are asking for help paying their mortgage or rent.
“Utility assistance used to be the major type of assistance people were seeking,” Hosack said. “That’s shifted to rent or mortgage assistance. The shift has certainly pushed the dollars higher and higher for us.”
The objective of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program is to help the areas with the greatest need as quickly and effectively as possible, Kissell said in a statement about the appropriation.
“I am so glad that stimulus money is going directly to our communities. Helping to better our emergency response systems is just one of the reasons I voted for the Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Kissell said.
Cabarrus County has also received $6.5 million from the federal stimulus package for road improvements to Morehead Road, located just south of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and to Interstate 85. A three-quarter-mile stretch of Morehead Road will be moved farther south and widened, making more room for vendor trailers along the speedway property. The interstate will be repaved from N.C. 73 to U.S. 601/29.
Cabarrus Community Health Centers Inc. also received $159,532 from the stimulus package. The money will be used to help the organization serve a growing number of uninsured patients.
The center has had nearly a 50 percent increase in patient visits to 9,455 in the last.
• Contact Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.