Contact Ministries unites clients with help they need

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NW0224 UW Contact Ministries

Sometimes help is just a phone call away.

For people who need assistance in the Tri-Cities, Contact Ministries is there to help put clients in touch with the help they need, or to just check on them on a day-to-day basis to make sure they are OK.

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Contact Ministries is one of nine agencies that receive funding from the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way. United Way provides about 10 percent of Contact Ministries’ budget, Contact Executive Director Ginna Kennedy said.

“The funding from the United Way absolutely allows us to continue operating the way we do,” she said. “It helps us keep the doors open.”

Contact Ministries offers a help line program, 2-1-1 calls and reassurance calls for clients. Through the help line program, people with emotional or psychological crises can call to talk to a person who offers them “nonjudgmental support.”

“They could be depressed or lonely and need someone to talk to,” Kennedy said.

Clients will call 2-1-1 for connections to agencies that provide additional forms of support to meet their needs. The most common calls from Carter County residents are requests for shelter, utility assistance and transportation to necessary appointments.

“We get calls for help for all kinds of things but those are definitely what we see the most of,” Kennedy said. “We hear from people who need a place to stay for the night, or they have to go to the doctor and they don’t have a vehicle and no public transportation is available. We help put them in touch with the people who can help them.”

The reassurance calls program makes daily calls to the elderly, patients recovering from a major medical issue or undergoing treatments. The client decides what time of day is best and then Contact Ministries gives them a call.

If the person answers, the worker from Contact Ministries will ask them if everything is fine and if they need assistance. If no one answers, family or emergency services are contacted.

“Most of our clients for reassurance calls are the elderly, but it is open to anyone who feels they need that assistance,” Kennedy said.

The programs through Contact Ministries are open to everyone and are offered free. Clients who want reassurance calls simply have to fill out an application to be placed on the list. Any information shared with Contact Ministries is kept confidential.

Kennedy said if any funding from the United Way was lost, the agency could not operate as it has.

“It would really impact our ability to operate,” she said. “We use that money to keep the phones open and to have people working the phones. We wouldn’t have to close, but it would definitely mean a reduction of hours and in our outreach capabilities.”

For more information, call Contact Ministries at 926-0140, or the Elizabethton/Carter County United Way at 543-6975.