Hickory – Although 2021 presented many challenges, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry (GHCCM) secured funding to begin the Behavioral Health and Wellness Initiative. Founded in 1969, GHCCM assists about 2,000 people each month from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. These individuals and families from local and surrounding areas fall within the 200% of the poverty level guidelines as set by the Federal government. Many face difficult life issues, such as drug dependency, emotional and mental challenges, abuse, homelessness, unemployment, disabilities, and lack of financial resources for day-to-day living.

As explained by Molly Sain, GHCCM Medical Clinic Practice Administrator, “The GHCCM Medical Clinic has identified through a questionnaire, ‘Social Determinants of Health’, that a large number of our patients have underlying mental and substance abuse issues that hinder their ability to move forward with finding a pathway out of poverty and creating a more stable life.” By identifying these issues that hold people back—transportation, housing, living conditions, alcohol and substance abuse, plus the mental issues, it became apparent for GHCCM to offer a location on-site for the ministry staff to journey with the neighbors as to what determines the best next steps for healing and transformation. In addition, community collaboration with other agencies in the area is very important. The GHCCM staff of certified and trained Peer Support Specialists are in place to offer the immediate help to those neighbors who are facing a crisis either emotionally or mentally. These conditions such as depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia are debilitating,” Molly explains. “We believe that you can’t fully take care of someone medically until you address their mental health and/or substance abuse issues.”

As a non-profit ministry, GHCCM depends on funding to begin and sustain new endeavors. The ministry reached out to area foundations and individuals to request their support of the project. GHCCM proposed the new program, Behavioral Health and Wellness Initiative, and requested funding to make the new program a reality. “We are grateful to these foundations and individuals – AlexLee, Inc., Beaver Family Foundation, Corning Inc. Foundation, The Kulynych Family Foundation, TSH Charitable Foundation, and Mrs. Carol de Perczel – who enabled GHCCM to exceed our goal to begin this new ministry offering that will impact many lives,” Linda Wade, Director of Development.

The Ministry hired two certified Peer Support Specialists, Jane Duralia, RN, and Twanna Bowens, PSS, who will work in the Clinic and the Whole Life Center. The Peer Support Specialists, whose life experiences has prepared them to provide the necessary skills for screening and outreach of our neighbors. “We see their work as walking with the patient, providing one-on-one peer support and building healthy relationships,” Molly Sain, shared, “Personal guidance is frequently what’s missing.” Molly helps define and measure outcomes to ensure these services are making a difference. Support groups and classes for anger management, building self-esteem, and other personal and social issues will be offered. The goals and objectives for the Behavioral Health and Wellness Initiative are on its way to offering a positive impact for our neighbors. The community support is critical for GHCCM to continue to expand and grow.

Molly states, “COVID has changed many peoples’ life circumstances, both financially and health-wise that we weren’t expecting. Neighbors are dealing with mental health issues, job and financial issues, and safety concerns they’ve never had before; GHCCM is here to help! We invite our neighbors to visit us,”.

For hours of operation, ministry offerings, or to donate, visit GHCCM’s website at www.ccmhickory.org. For additional information email info@ccmhickory.org. To volunteer, send your request to outreach@ccmhickory.org.

Pictured from left to right: Jane Duralia (Clinical Peer Support Specialist), Molly Sain (Director of Medical Clinic), Twanna Bowens (Peer Support Specialist).