HENDERSON — The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina did not deter the efforts of the staff at The Help Center NC as they fought to end poverty and hunger in Henderson and the surrounding cities.
Founder Twanna Joyner Jones didn’t envision The Help Center becoming such an instrumental part of the community in a short period of time, but she credited her family, her faith and the community for all they have done to help the organization improve the everyday lives of others.
“This is all because of God, not me,” Jones said. “We’re also very thankful for the community support. Not everyone can stand on the frontlines, but what’s going on behind the scenes through prayer, financial support and donations is what has been the difference-maker, and it makes me want to continue this journey.”
Established by Jones in 2016, The Help Center NC specifically focuses its efforts inside the Kerr-Tar region, encompassing Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties. But it also makes occasional visits to Wake County to assist families in need.
As a community ministry, the mission of The Help Center NC is designed to advocate for children, the poor and the elderly by providing them the necessary resources and training to become self-sufficient and develop better lives for themselves and their families.
To accomplish this, The Help Center provides a variety of different services to residents of the Kerr-Tar region that include food distribution, a senior program that recently added pet services, a youth enrichment program and a diaper bank.
Jones has always put extra emphasis on food distribution since starting up The Help Center NC, as she and her staff get together on the fourth Monday of every month to hand out items around the region.
In 2020 alone, Jones and her staff distributed more than 12,000 pounds of food to residents in the counties they serve.
Jones is actively encouraging anyone who is currently dealing with financial struggles during the pandemic to come by The Help Center NC for food or other services, and says anyone who walks through the doors will be treated with care and respect.
“One of the components that makes us so successful is the love component,” Jones said. “We don’t want people to feel like this is just a food pantry. No one should feel bad about being in need, because we want everyone to feel loved. That’s what The Help Center NC is all about.”
Jones added that additional efforts from everyone at the center have been crucial towards assisting more people during a pandemic that has resulted in numerous businesses permanently closing down and left thousands of people homeless across the state.
“We haven’t stopped serving,” Jones said. “We have seen an increase in need by about 25% and we also get calls about families sleeping in tents in the woods, so we send volunteers out there to help those families that are homeless. So everything has been non-stop.”
Even as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in the state, Jones does not intend to slow down the work of The Help Center NC, as she wants residents in the Kerr-Tar region who are currently struggling to have proper access to healthy food until the pandemic subsides.
“Because of COVID-19, we added something called the Healthy Pantry addition,” she said. “We’re going to offer fresh produce, fruits and other things that people are going to need, but we’re also going to show people how to prepare those items and create their own recipes. Each family is different and we want to provide what is necessary for them to care for each other.”
Vance County residents who want to visit The Help Center NC’s Fixed Distribution Site can find it on 415 Raleigh Road in Henderson. Additional information about the organization can be found at www.thehelpcenternc.com, while the main office can be reached at 252-572-3203.