Last updated: July 11. 2014 6:44PM - 771 Views
By Emily M. Hobbs EHobbs@civitasmedia.com



Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentPamela Gonzalez is the Executive Director for UCare of Sampson County. Gonzalez has been with UCare for over 18 years.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentPamela Gonzalez is the Executive Director for UCare of Sampson County. Gonzalez has been with UCare for over 18 years.
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UCare is putting out a request to the community for locals to step up and help bolster their efforts to continue providing services through their Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault programs.


“The state has not passed their budget and there have been a ton of cuts,” said UCare executive director Pamela Gonzalez during an interview at her office late this week.


“We stand to lose $50,000,” she said, explaining that that funding was coming from a grant for the Displaced Homemaker Program. The program was merged with the Domestic Violence Commission and the NC Council for Women.


“When Gov. Pat McCrory came into office the first thing he did was cut that program out,” explained Gonzalez. The organization was getting money every year, and it has been used for displaced homemakers to enable them to go back to school. She said since McCrory has come onto the scene things have been hazy. While she thinks the governor is doing a good job, Gonzalez said many things were still in what she called “proces.”


UCare has been taking that money and using it to help students get materials that they need like scrubs, a stethoscope or perhaps tuition for a class that they need in the summer like phlebotomy. Gonzalez said that many students that are in a nursing program, for example, tend to take that class on its own in the summer because it is so difficult. They need that class to graduate and often there isn’t enough money from grants like the Pell grant by the time they are in position to take that class.


Other programs that they may help with would be CNA or truck driving school, which are both not covered by financial aid, but can enable mothers to provide income for their families.


“It might be getting a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff or nursing shoes,” she explained. “We also encourage people to donate shoes or scrubs to the Beehive.” Those items may be just the thing for someone trying to go to work that can’t afford them.


“Not having these items may be keeping people from going to work,” she said, adding that UCare helps bridge that gap. Sometimes they may not have their size or what they need at the Beehive and they have to go out and buy those as well.


Or maybe those in a domestic violence situation need a new computer monitor or computer cords since an abuser may have cut them during a domestic situation. Perhaps they are in online classes and can’t continue without those items, she stressed.


“We will lose so much money in the fall, and we go the letter in March or April that it will definitely be cut,” Gonzalez said. “We will still get a smaller amount of money but it will go to domestic violence. The number of funds received that way will go down from around $50,000 to $8,000 because the fund will have to be split up differently than before, and be split all across the state. Before there was only 10-20 sites doing the displaced homemaker program, she said.


“The board had to strategize on how to make a difference,” said Gonzalez. “The board looked at cutting the budget, and we have a new bookkeeper now, with 15 years of experience with non-profit management.”


“We are already cut back to bare bones,” she detailed. “Our solution was fundraising, and getting the community to help.”


“Grants are just a temporary fix to get started,” she said, explaining that now it’s up to locals to help shore up the service.


If the cause is worthy to the community, Gonzalez said, the hope is that the community will step up to the plate and help in eveyr way they can. She said that the government will use the money to go on and fund other new projects.


“This is why we are doing this extra fundraising,” she said, adding that since a letter went out into the community over $700 has been raised by businesses and community members answering the call. She also said that money that may be budgeted by the state may not be available until November or December.


Now, just as much as ever, UCare is finding they need that money, and with a shelter full the demands are high. Right now they have five women, an elderly person, a dog, and three children in the shelter. One of the children is disabled with special needs, the director noted.


“There are things that they have to have,” Gonzalez reiterated. “He needed medications, over $100. A local drug store gave us the medications while we are waiting on Medicaid.”


“We have been full since March,” said Gonzalez. “We have a limit of 45 days, but if they are doing what they need to do to get out, we don’t kick them out.” Sometimes there are issues that keep people from getting out right away, like finding specific housing.


“Some of these people don’t have the income to pay for a regular apartment,” Gonzalez explained. “They have to stay here until they find somewhere. But most are in and out in two and a half weeks.”


“We have had a ton of people coming, and a lot more with severe injuries,” said Gonzalez. Those with very severe injuries can find themselves in a worse situation by losing their jobs and not being able to work because they are healing from black eyes, broken ribs, sprained ankles or messed up hands.


“A lot end up losing their job,” said Gonzalez, adding that employers have to have someone who can work, and often can’t afford to hold open a position.


UCare is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays, with trained staff. Volunteers often come in and help duing the day, but most don’t want to work the crisis line, said Gonzalez. Plus there is the need for security, and board members have had to come in and stay as well.


“It’s not that we tell them what to do, but help (the victims) decide what to do,” she divulged.


The shelter offers family-style living and they eat supper together said Gonzalez, with breakfast and lunch being on their own schedule.


“We have a support group every night as well as individual support,” she said, adding that they utilize William Glasser’s reality therapy.


“Short term stuff happens, and they have to learn from it and move on,” she explained. “We teach clients that so that they can stay focused and help themselves.”


“We have a good working relationship with Social Services, and if clients are getting help they work with them,” Gonzalez divulged. “They are very professional and good to work with, and we have good law enforcement too.”


“We need lots of prayers and support,” Gonzalez said. “Domestic violence is the number two killer of law enforcement, and number one is heart disease.”


“There’s a 75 percent chance that we get killed in the process of helping a victim,” said Gonzalez, who added that she has been very blessed with her great staff.


“Most have been here 10 years, some 11 to 12 years,” she said. “I have been here 18 going on 19.”


For more information about UCare visit their website at www.ucaredv.org or call them at 596-0931


Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122. Follow us on Twitter: @SampsonInd

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