Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry (GHCCM) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that has been in continuous operation since 1969.
The idea of a cooperative Christian ministry began in 1968 when a group of ministers in the Hickory Ministerial Association suggested the formation of an organization to help individuals and groups for crisis assistance. Three ministers meeting as the original steering group were Rev. Dr. Cecil Heckard of First United Methodist, Rev. J. Whitner Kennedy of First Presbyterian, and Rev. Dr. Albert Keck of St. Andrews Lutheran. Other ministers and laypersons from several Hickory churches met, and in February, 1968, the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry was formed. The organization was chartered in 1970.
The Ministry has always been led by a group of faithful volunteers, contributors, and leaders. Our board is composed of community volunteers. A tour of the facilities reveals a legacy of many local families. A history of GHCCM is in many ways a history of the local community.
The early Church membership was 14. Today, we have more than 70 churches supporting the ministry. To become a member, our guidelines require only two things—recognition and belief in Jesus Christ and financial support (line item in the budget of most supporting churches). A display with the names of member churches hangs in our lobby. We are continuing to invite area churches to support GHCCM.
In the early days, people referred to us as “Gickem” and later as “CCM”. Our focus has always been volunteerism and community collaboration to accomplish our mission.
The first office person (1969) was Holly Haman. Later in 1969, there were two coordinators – Betty Sinclair and the Rev. Tom Sigmon. In 1970, Bonnie Phillips took over. In August of 1970, the first Executive Director, Frances Frock (1970-1988), was employed. She recalls that the mission was really putting Matthew 25 to work in our community and, of course, the first task was fund raising (some things never change).
The offices were located at the First United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian.
Mr. C.A. Poole, a local banker, was chairman of the first campaign, which was the purchase of a house on 8th Street across from Lenoir-Rhyne College (now Lenoir-Rhyne University). The asking price was $28,000. During the 3-year campaign, the committee raised $36,000.00. This was enough to purchase the house and install a new heating/cooling system and other repairs.
Growth continued and we rented space from Viewmont Baptist ($1 a year). Only recently was the rental agreement voided. Viewmont’s expansion resulted in discovering that GHCCM still had a lease on the property!
From the beginning, GHCCM responded to the needs of the area. Beginning as a volunteer vehicle for area needs, programs were added as needs became evident.
One of the first programs was a tutoring program at Ridgeview Elementary School. The program expanded to all elementary schools and was eventually taken over by Hickory City Schools in 1975.
Training for another program, called “Outreach,” began in the fall of 1970 and continued through 1980. The program established a 24-hour, 7-day a week telephone crisis line. This would later become a function of Catawba County Mental Health.
Telecare, a program where volunteers checked on the elderly living alone, was staffed by GHCCM volunteers from 1971-1980.
GHCCM and the Lutheran Nursing Home started “Meals On Wheels.” The Lutheran Home cooked and GHCCM volunteers delivered meals. The Department of Social Services supplied the clients. DSS eventually got federal grants to take over the program. GHCCM volunteers continued to provide and schedule the volunteers for three routes until the early 1990’s.
GHCCM clients must meet certain eligibility requirements. Clients must be Catawba County residents, fall within roughly 200 percent of Federal Poverty guidelines and must be considered an adult, with the exception of emancipated minors. Clients must also be uninsured or ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare.
The high unemployment numbers in Catawba County have resulted in tremendous needs of local citizens.
A limited pharmacy program began in January, 1994, with a grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Providing free medications for those with no insurance and who met financial guidelines, GHCCM was one of three agencies in North Carolina to develop a licensed pharmacy that dispensed medicines without charge to qualified clients. The Moretz Family Foundation designated a lead gift to use in the Pharmacy. Bill Stedman and Joe Pratt were two pharmacists that were instrumental in getting the pharmacy going. Bill Stedman is given credit (by those who were at GHCCM) for really establishing a first class operation. Bill Stedman is shown here working in the GHCCM Pharmacy.
In 1996, a Capital Campaign to raise $1,250,000.00 was initiated to develop our present site. The vacant building purchase price was $147,000. The building is downtown and located near transportation. The larger space was needed to continue meeting the needs of the citizens.
An additional $800,000 plus was needed for building renovations. Architects from CBSA Architects created the conceptual design for the building. Charles Snipes and Carolyn Moretz were honorary co-chairs of the campaign. Charles Young, John Bray, and the Honorable Forrest Ferrell were Champaign Chairs. The campaign cabinet and volunteers included Jan Austin, Pat Beaver (Anderson), Bert Brinkley, Joyce Corbett, Mike Dockery, Becky Farrell, Francis Hilton, Linda Isaac, Wallace Johnson, Ron Key, Dan McEachran, Don Moss, Tom Pierce, Bill Peckman, Jill Patton, Jim Roane, Stuart Thompson, Linda Wade, Ann Williams, and Rosemary Bass Young.
The renovated building was named “Cooperative Christian Ministry Eunice Moore Memorial Center” in honor of Eunice Moose. Wade Moose was central to our fund raising efforts to renovate the building and the building was named in honor of his mother. Wade continues to be a supporter of GHCCM.
In 2000, the Good Samaritan Clinic (housed at Hickory Soup Kitchen) merged to become GHCCM’s HealthCare Center. Later, a dental and eye clinic were also added. John K Earl, MD was the first volunteer Medical Director and instrumental in the merger. Dr. Robert Hart joined the clinic at GHCCM and is still involved in providing medical practitioners and Dr. Eric Hart continues the family tradition. Dr. Stephen McIntyre became the Volunteer Clinic Medical Director and in 2008, Dr. Robert Lilijeberg became Associate Medical Director.
Dr. J. Thomas Foster, Dr. Richard Griffin, and Dr. Wade Hampton Lefler were instrumental in establishing the eye clinic. Ralph Allred was the first Licensed Optician helping patients with their new glasses. Following in his father’s foot steps, Jeff Allred, Licensed Optician, is continuing the family tradition at GHCCM. The area Lions Clubs have been long time sponsors of the eye glass program.
Dr, Ronald Key and Dr. Richard Troutman were primarily responsible for establishing the dental clinic. Patterson Dental provided dental chairs and other equipment, supplies, and expertise as the dental clinc was developed. Jim Roane was the guiding force in developing the dental clinic and contiues to be a regular volunteer.
Several local physicians volunteered at Good Samaritan and many came to the GHCCM clinic. These long time volunteers included many still volunteering at GHCCM, such as Dr. John DelCharco, Dr. Richard Dickey, Dr. Grimes Byerly, Dr. Stephen McIntyre, Dr. Robert Liljeberg, and Dr. Alfred Geissele. Dr. Dickey is the Chair of our Federal Tort Claims Coverage of Free Clinic Volunteer Health Care Professionals. The Federal Tort Claims Act, provides malpractice for free clinic volunteers that are licensed medical providers. Jim Roane, Volunteer, was also involved in helping guide the merger. Joe Taylor (engineer and clinic volunteer), now deceased, is remembered fondly as one of the primary supporters.
The state-of-the-art facilities and equipment were donated by area medical providers, both hospitals, individuals, local foundations, and businesses. Many name plaques throughout the ministry indicate who was responsible for various areas. Naming opportunities still exist throughout the ministry. Many local foundations have helped GHCCM, such as the George Foundation, Carpenter Foundation, Harry and Rosemary King Foundation, and the Moretz Family Foundation.
Today, as you tour GHCCM, this volunteer spirit is still evident. Many rooms and areas have plaques in honor of individuals, groups, and businesses that have made significant contributions to the Ministry. Click here for plaque list. Naming opportunites still exist.
GHCCM began participation in the Indigent Patient Program in 2002 to enlist major drug companies in providing free medications for clients. A full-time Pharmacist and a bilingual Pharmacy Technician were added to the clinic operation in 2004. A grant from Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina, Inc. allowed the first expansion of hours for the free pharmacy in 2005.
In 2007, GHCCM agreed to administer Medical Access for Catawba County (MACC). This program matches uninsured residents with one of four chronic diseases (Diabetes, Heart disease, Hypertension, or COPD) with an area practice that agrees to accept the patient pro bono. This program was started by the Catawba County Medical Society and Healthy Carolinians following a survey that identified access to health care as a priority. Now, more than 160 patients are being treated by 80 practices.
In September, 2008, a Diabetic Outreach and Education Clinic were developed through collaboration of the Catawba Valley Medical Center, Catawba Valley Community College Nursing Department, and GHCCM. The clinic began with a goal of “graduating” 50 patients. The program met this goal in the first six months of 2009.
Also in 2009, the Ministry was reorganized into three divisions: Crisis Intervention Services, Health Care Services, and Support/Administration Services.
Crisis Intervention Services
In our first few years we helped about 6-8 people a month. Now we do more than that every hour!
Thrift Store: Distributes Vouchers to those establishing eligibility or
confirmed cases from Red Cross (burned out) or other
agencies (abuse or women’s shelters) and families,
particularly children’s school clothes for the year. Vouchers
allow individuals to shop, maintaining individual dignity.
Food Pantry: The pantry distributes 60 pound bags of groceries. Additional pop tops and emergency foods are handed out, including baskets for homeless children and their families.
Client Services: Provides crisis assistance for individuals and families, such as mortgage/rent and utilities, and such items as blankets, quilts, sleeping bags, and backpacks.
Medicaid: We work with Catawba County Department of Social Services to determine patient eligibility for Medicaid.
Shower Ministry: On site shower facilities. We provide shower kits, including towels, to those in need of a shower. Kits are provided by churches and other civic groups.
Health Care Services
We are a member of the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics. We are in process of completing TORT certification to provide malpractice and enhance medical providers opportunities to serve.
Included in collaborations presently underway are the following: local health leaders developing A Care Share Alliance Community Collaborative, several specialty clinics to support uninsured with chronic illness, and a Nightingale’s Nest for Nurse Advocacy (patient case management), and exploration of electronic medical records options.
Our free clinics saw more than 3,100 patients in primary, dental, and eye care. We have recently added services in the eye clinic for school-referred elementary children who cannot afford screening and glasses.
Our free pharmacy served 6,862 individuals and filled over 34,000 prescriptions. We accept scripts and provide free medicine to those without health insurance residing in Catawba County from both hospital emergency rooms, Catawba Behavioral Health, Black Mountain Rehab, The Clinic for People without Insurance in Newton, and MACC providers.
MACC increased service from 28 patients in 2007 to 160 patients in 2008. This program is a partnership with Catawba County Medical Society and Healthy Carolinians. MACC finds medical homes for individuals without insurance who have one of four chronic diseases—diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and COPD.
One of our fastest growing needs is Health Care Services. The qualified uninsured people of Catawba County are our focus population. The qualified uninsured of Catawba County depend on GHCCM for medical assistance and their medicines.
The Diabetic Education Center partnership with Catawba Valley Medical Center and Catawba Valley Community College Nursing has graduated 48 individuals as of May, 2009. This is well ahead of the 50 individuals projected for all of 2009.
The high unemployment rate (hovering around 15%) in Catawba County, along with the expansion of the client base of several local social services nonprofits,
has resulted in greater pressure on GHCCM Health Care Services to meet this growing need and to recruit more volunteer medical professionals.
GHCCM continues to partner with many other groups in Hickory/Catawba County to provide services to those in need in accordance with Matthew 25.
Through the years, GHCCM has received recognition from many organizations, including the Catawba County Board of Commissioners, WSOC TV’s Nine Who
Care Award, the Governor’s Award, Hickory Community Relations Council, and recently, the 2008 Agency Partner Award for North Carolina from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry is proud that we provide services to the clients of most other human services nonprofits in the area. Support of GHCCM helps those being served by other agencies, such as Red Cross, Safe Harbor Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, ECCCM, Habitat for Humanity residents, Flynn Christian Home, Exodus Homes, Women’s Resource Center, Family Guidance Center, Soup Kitchens, and so forth.
GHCCM Executive Directors
1970-1988 Frances Frock
1988-1990 Carol Boris
1990-1996 Barbara Reinford
1996-2002 Dan McEachran
2002-2003 John DeMauro
2003-2004 Jim Roane (interim)
2004-2005 Sandy Gregory
2005 Gary Woods and Andrea Benfield (interim)
2005-2007 Lori Giang
2007 Andrea Benfield (interim)
2007-2013 Roger D. Baker, Ed.D.
2013-present Barbara Rush
NOTE: Your help is needed!
This history is work in progress. We are continuing to research the history and will add and adjust as we receive more information.
We are interested in developing a list of GHCCCM Board Chairs and Board members. Should you know any volunteers and the year(s) they served, please let us know.
Should you read anything in this history and have more (or different) information, please let us know.