EAST LAURINBURG — Who stopped turning a blind eye? Founder and Director Melba McCallum certainly did when she used her time of retirement to create Partners in Ministry and make a difference in Laurinburg and the surrounding communities.
Since its inception, the organization continues to grow, with a mix of about 50 full-time workers, volunteers and children. With that growth, the old East Laurinburg school they have now has limited building space. McCallum let that be known at the Scotland County commissioner’s board meeting Monday, saying, “At this point (we) are limited to the types of activities and services we can provide due to limited space.”
McCallum added that the Partners in Ministry formed an advisory board in 2017, to build a multi-purpose building. Currently, the group has put together a Building and Capital Campaign Committee and are working with a consultant supported by the Duke Endowment to plan an 18,000- to 20,000-square-foot building.
County Commissioner Betty Blue Gholston, who is also on the group’s board, praised the organization on Monday.
“I cannot believe all the work they do,” she said, “they are really a wonderful organization.”
Gholston added that a gym and stage for fine arts and assemblies are high on the organization’s lost of needs. There is also a plan to add a counseling center, larger STEM lab, and kitchen to accommodate the team that prepares full meals for the children.
Partners in Ministry was established in 2007 when McCallum chose to combine the church and community together to give back. Taking initiative with the Duke Endowment, she hired a consultant to have a needs assessment done in the area.
The consultant gathered information from the responses of interviews, focus groups, and conversations with clergy and community leaders relating to social and economic issues.
McCallum decided to attack the top three needs first, starting with employment.
“(A lack of jobs) leads to broken families, drug use, gang involvement and crime,” she said.
The second need was the lack of supervision for youth and safe spaces/places for them to go, as well as a lack of caring adults for children.
Thirdly was that the surrounding communities suffered from a lack of adequate housing.
McCallum felt the call of God to move and created various programs that affect people in Scotland, Richmond, Robeson, and Hoke counties. Project Development Coordinator Elizabeth Mathis said, “I’m impressed by what she has been able to do in this community and the growth that has happened in those 11 years”.
The housing ministry works to rehabilitate homes and doubles as a resource for volunteers who learn new skills through building and hands-on work.
“We helped repair 54 homes in 2017,” said McCallum, adding that Partners in Ministry provides a resource and referral center that connects individuals to information and people who can help them.
To donate monetary gifts, food or clothes, send to P.O Box 1621, Laurinburg, N.C. 28352 or deliver to 12 Third Street East, Laurinburg, N.C. 28352.
Jael Pembrick can be reached at 910-506-3169 or [email protected]