Once upon a time, Crisis Assistance Ministry helped Jarris “JB” Bell’s young family stay housed with their utilities flowing while he worked two jobs and went to school.
A decade or so later, JB leads a neighborhood hub that connects residents of the Westside to services across the county. Living in the neighborhood he serves, JB sees both the gifts and the needs of his community every day as he shops for groceries, stops for gas, and goes about the business of living. That’s what led him to found C4, a unique community-based counseling center to serve the needs of his neighbors in their own neighborhood.
Based in the Movement Center on Freedom Drive, JB says C4’s partnership with Crisis Assistance Ministry was a natural fit. “You can’t process your psychological needs when your brain is occupied by a crisis. It’s a basic need to have food, water, shelter, and if we can’t meet those first, all our counseling is in vain,” he says.
The ability to request financial assistance on behalf of a client became even more critical as COVID-19 arrived this Spring. Through Crisis Assistance Ministry’s new online portal, C4 is able to connect individuals served by a variety of Westside organizations to critical rent and utility assistance without a trip to our office.
“During a pandemic, this instant connection eliminates exposure risks, eliminates transportation barriers, and allows us to meet the spike in need without overwhelming time commitments,” JB says.
He recalls one neighbor who sought help after losing her job due to COVID-restrictions. She dropped by recently to say thank you because C4 and Crisis Assistance Ministry were able to pay her utility bill, provide her with a food referral, and help her get through her crisis—all without having to leave her own neighborhood. “She didn’t even realize that was possible,” JB adds.
All the travails of 2020 have reminded JB that “a crisis is something you cannot predict or plan for, and none of us knows when it or if it will be us who faces dramatic change.”
“In a crisis, we look to the community to show up when we need them the most,” he says. “And Crisis Assistance Ministry does just that. It is so critical because it allows individuals who are struggling to do so with dignity by providing financial support so they can get through it and heal.”
C4 is one of more than 100 Partner Agencies across Mecklenburg County who can access financial assistance on behalf of their clients through the online portal. Working together, Crisis Assistance Ministry addresses basic needs while agencies like C4 focus on the other unique services needed for their clients to achieve stability.