Connections of Cumberland County was developed as a result of research conducted by the Women’s Giving Circle of Cumberland County (WGCCC) on the basic needs of local women and children. This research revealed an alarming number of women and children in our county affected by homelessness and housing insecurity. After discovering this need, a group within WGCCC decided to take action.
Our founders made a commitment to implement a day resource center with case management and skills development opportunities that utilized collaborative community resources to meet the needs of our clients. This model prevents the unnecessary duplication of services and provides a “one-stop shop” approach for single women and single women with children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to improve their situation. Below is our agency’s historical timeline:
September 2010 – Annual Scorecard
The Women’s Giving Circle of Cumberland County (WGCCC) presented their 2nd Annual Scorecard on 3 basic needs focus areas for Cumberland County. Those areas are:
2. food insecurity
3. health for women and children.
The scorecard data indicated our community had a significant need for women and children struggling with homelessness.
October 2010 – Strategic Think Tank
WGCCC organized a Strategic Think Tank event for community leaders in order to highlight the significant number of women and children in Cumberland County impacted by homelessness. Participants were asked to answer the question: “Without regard to resources, what would you do about homelessness in our community, especially for women and children?” A variety of suggestions and solutions were harvested.
November 2010 – Second Think Tank
WGCCC hosted a second Think Tank where participants organized and prioritized suggestions from the October Think Tank. Three projects to fill gaps in existing homeless services were recommended:
1. a Day Resource Center specifically for single women and single women with children that would build partnerships with current providers, agencies, and local universities to help women better their situations. The Day Resource Center would also maximize current resources offered through the Cumberland County School System to support children.
2. an Emergency Shelter for women and children that would provide them with temporary shelter while they connected with the Day Resource Center to begin improving their circumstances.
3. and Transitional Housing opportunities provided in partnership with current area providers.
December 2010 – Committee Formed
A committee of community activists was formed to further study homelessness in Cumberland County. This committee developed a plan to implement the Think Tank priorities and recommendations. This group met with many service providers, other community leaders, and city and county government/agencies over the course of the next 6 months.
August 2011-September 2011 – Homeless Service Provider Roundtable
The above Committee hosted a Homeless Service Provider Roundtable to facilitate discussion among providers, gather information about current services, and identify gaps in service for citizens in our community affected by homelessness. The group officially became Connections of Cumberland County and they continued to research solutions by visiting many facilities in North Carolina that provided services for homeless citizens.
December 2011 – 2 Priorities Implemented
The first two priorities recommended by the Think Tank (Day Resource Center and Emergency Shelter for women and children) become well on their way to being a reality. While continuing to foster open dialogue with the many service providers and agencies involved in combatting homelessness in Cumberland County, the Committee continued to gather information to create an asset map of existing homeless services. At this time, the Connections of Cumberland County Start-Up Fund was established through Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc.
January-June 2012 – Connections of Cumberland County Files for Non-Tax Status
Connections of Cumberland County, Inc filed for non-tax status as a 501(c)3 with the IRS. After many conversations with service providers and potential community partners, the Committee found that a Day Resource Center (DRC) model would be the best solution to address the needs of women and children experiencing homelessness in Cumberland County. The vision for the DRC incorporated the capability of virtual connection of clients through case management with services and resources, including benefit procurement, job and life skills training, job placement, rapid re-housing and more. To address the need of emergency beds, Connections of Cumberland County sought to partner with existing non-profits in an effort to increase capacity rather than starting a new location.
July 2012-June 2014 – Connections of Cumberland County Board and Tax Status Confirmed
Connections became a 501(c)3 organization on 8/14/2012 and Connections of Cumberland County’s founding board members continued to have regular meetings with non-profits and the Fayetteville Police Department through a designated police officer assigned to work with citizens impacted by homelessness. To build public awareness, Connections of Cumberland County created a brochure and website and negotiated memorandums of understanding with key organizations in the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Connections of Cumberland County secured a primary location for services, began structuring supportive services that would be available at the DRC, hired an interim executive director for DRC implementation, and outfitted the DRC with items needed to begin client service.
July 2014 – Connections of Cumberland County Opens to Clients
Connections of Cumberland County’s DRC opened its doors and began serving single women and single women with children 2 days per week.
July 2014 – Present – Serving Our Community
Connections of Cumberland County increased operating hours annually and the DRC is now open 4 days per week to assist single women and single women with children impacted by homelessness and housing insecurity with overcoming barriers that have led to chronic instability. The mission of Connections of Cumberland County is to collaborate with all community resources to empower women and children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness to become self-reliant. There is no other walk-in DRC in Cumberland County that offers one-stop access to supportive services designed to improve outcomes for single women and single women with children impacted by homelessness or housing insecurity.