BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Help is on the way for people across southeastern North Carolina that may have come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

The Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development is one of seven vendors granted funding from NC DHHS to hire and manage more than 250 community health workers. The leadership center has a headquarters in Burgaw, but serves Pender, Duplin, Bladen, Columbus, Sampson and Robeson counties. The facility is now in the process of recruiting and training 20 people who will go on to work with local health departments to carry out contact tracing and make sure individuals know there’s help available if they need things like supplies, housing, transportation, mental health support or even legal help. The group already has a line of communication with the people of rural North Carolina and they’ve heard firsthand what the needs are.

“Sometimes its intimidating for people to go out and seek help, because they don’t know where to go or who to ask, but by the community health workers actually reaching out to individuals, it makes it more personal and it feels more like they’re having a conversation and maybe they can open up a little bit more and say ‘yes I do need food, I do need transportation, I am having problems paying my rent right now,‘”said executive director Lisa Robinson.

Contracting the virus or being forced to quarantine for two weeks is a challenge for anyone, but can be especially devastating for people who are already struggling to make ends meet. “I want the community to know that help is on the way. Someone is coming. There may be someone who is isolated or going through quarantine and they’re just like ‘What do I do? I cant go anywhere, I’m stuck in the house the next two weeks and I need food, I need medication, I need supplies,‘” said Robinson. “I want them to know help is on the way, we’re going to get whatever it is you need.” The Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development has been hosting events all summer to educate the community about the virus and how they can get get help for their business or even emotional support from a licensed counselor. Helping people during the pandemic is not new to them, but staff say they’re excited to have been granted the opportunity to connect with more people with DHHS resources.

“We want to see our community strong and recover and back like it was prior to everything going on right now,” added Robinson.

Staff hopes to have teams trained and ready to go in the next two to three weeks. The center is still working to fill more than a dozen positions. People with experience in healthcare or community outreach are especially encouraged to apply, as well as bilingual candidates. The online application is live now and can be accessed here.

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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Mt. Calvary University opened its doors in 2018, but they’re already striving to branch out in the Pender County education community.

Early January, the Pender County School Board approved the sharing of information on dropout students to Mt. Calvary. The university said they hope to start a leadership program in the coming days specifically geared towards dropout students.

“Learning deficiencies, bullying, we find out they come from low income families, and sometimes its self-esteem," said Jimmy T. Tate, Mt. Calvary President. "They see this current system isn’t working for them and they’re only opportunity they have is to leave and go get a job and provide for their families.”

The leadership program would teach students life-skills they would not have if they chose not to go back to school. Money management, leadership development and self-awareness to name a few, all with the help of psychologists, faith based leaders and business entrepreneurs.

“We provide them not only classroom instruction of a leadership development but we would proved them of the practical development students need," said Tate. "Realizing students learn differently. It may be those students left the district because of reasons beyond their control or for problems they didn’t realize they have and Mt. Calvary wants to get to that.”

PCS board chairman Don Hall said although the dropout numbers in Pender County aren’t very high, anything that can be done to hep students succeed in life is at the top of the boards priority list.

Research still needs to be done by Mt. Calvary to get the program started. Without a religious based higher exempt institution ran by the county in the county, Tate said he wants to take care of home first before they start to expand and reach other counties.

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