Helping ease local poverty in Matthews

Helping ease local poverty in Matthews

When the crisis of the coronavirus hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.

The fund supports a range of nonprofits, assisting the people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, this fund will help not just those who get sick, but also those who are economically impacted.

One of the grant recipients was Matthews HELP Center

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It received $20,000 of emergency financial assistance to provide food, housing and utility assistance.

“Clients that are already on tight budgets, fixed incomes, and underemployed are now facing the COVID-19 crisis as a greater challenge,” said Sandra Conway, executive director of Matthews HELP Center.  

For many individuals served by Matthews HELP Center, bills are piling up as this crisis continues, with families facing evictions,  utility disconnections, and months of accumulated expenses. 

“We had to jump into virtual social work and find a process that works for our clients. We discovered that it’s more efficient for many of our clients to go through the online assessment as they can do it from home and not take time off from work,” Conway said.

Matthews HELP Center’s history extends over 40 years, when in 1978 June Hamrick (of the Matthews Woman’s Club) and Iris Devore (of the Happy Times Club) sought a central place in the Matthews community to provide crisis assistance.

The Woman’s Club membership enlisted the entire community in organizing such a center. The town of Matthews offered this group of volunteers the use of the historic Clark House, and the doors of the Matthews HELP Center opened in November 1979.

“I am hopeful that we continue to come together stronger as a community with more kindness and compassion to seek understanding in the uniqueness of every situation,” Conway said.

Over the next month, Crisis Assistance Ministry expects an unprecedented emergency for our neighbors who have lost their jobs or had their work hours cut amid the crushing economic downturn, and due to the financial repercussions and disasters the virus has caused people.

Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.

The combination of difficulties people have paying rent, mortgages and utility payments, spikes in foreclosures and evictions, asserting tenant's rights, homelessness, and a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, will together be a brutal burden for tens of thousands of families to bear.

WSOC-TV has launched 9 Crisis Help. The funds collected will go directly to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help people pay essential bills.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at