As Dr. Melba McCallum puts it, the community has called on Partners in Ministry in Laurinburg numerous times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit organization partners with community organizations and local churches in Richmond, Scotland and Robeson counties to provide access to education, young adult mentoring, urgent home repairs, and referrals to additional community services and support.
Getting people food became a top priority at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Even before the pandemic, folks were having issues with food security, said McCallum, executive director of Partners in Ministry. “We became one of those central locations where folks came.”
With their youth programming having gone virtual, the auditorium served as a distribution center and they began distributing food twice a week, rather than just once a week. They also served as a food distribution site so that over 40 churches were able to pick up food and distribute food to their church communities.
A recipient of a $40,000 from the North Carolina Healing Communities Fund allowed the ministry to enhance their food program, said McCallum. Launched by the North Carolina Community Foundation, the fund has distributed $4.25 million to provide critical resources for nonprofit organizations in North Carolina.
“We really needed that support,” McCallum said. “It really came at the perfect time because our ministry had expanded, and that’s why we’re here - to meet the needs of the community.”
The ministry has served as a spot for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and has served as a site for community events, such as an over-the-counter medicine pick-up.
Today, the youth are back on Partners in Ministry’s campus. However, the auditorium is still used as a food distribution center and space is a problem, validating the need for a dedicated community education center for youth, McCallum said. Partners in Ministry is nearing the end of a capital campaign that began before the pandemic to raise money for construction.
“This has shown us that we really do need that space,” McCallum said. “Because right now we are out of space.”