Eighth Hunger & Homeless soup banquet stirs up issues

Article copyright (c) 2019 The Brunswick Beacon. The Brunswick Beacon is your source for local news, sports, events and information in Brunswick County, North Carolina and surrounding areas.

By Laura Lewis, Reporter
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

CALABASH —A roomful of officials and volunteers turned out during Saturday’s cold, blustery weather to talk about hunger and homelessness in Brunswick County and what needs to be done about it.

Betsy Duarte, direct aid committee leader for the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, which orchestrates the annual gathering, outlined a fact sheet at the Nov. 16 gathering showing in 2017 in Brunswick County, 11.5 percent of residents had an income below the poverty level, a decrease from 14.3 percent in 2016, and 17.4 percent of children under 18 live in poverty, a decrease from 19.3 percent in 2016. Four percent of people 65 and older live in poverty, down from 8.7 percent the prior year.


Paul Witmer of BCHC, representing local American Legion posts (L)
and Charles Jackson, Director of Operations and Outreach for
Brunswick Family Assistance address the Eighth Annual Hunger and
Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon in Calabash on Nov. 16th on
the topic of Veteran services. Photo Credit: J. Johnson, BCHC.

Government officials

Brunswick County Commissioner Randy Thompson spoke about the Brunswick Guarantee offering every student an opportunity to receive at least two years of education free of charge “so they never experience some of the things y’all are having to deal with today.”

“The more we educate the community, it makes all the difference,” he said[, pointing] out a growing amount of affordable housing complexes going up or in the planning stage. “That’s something we need to continue to concentrate on,” said Thompson, who also read a proclamation designating the week of Nov. 16-24 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

N.C. Rep. Frank Iler said he supports affordable housing.

“The bad news is the budget has been vetoed,” he said, lauding affordable housing efforts off N.C. 904 and a similar public-private partnership that is to be duplicated in Calabash.

Pat Rourke, director of McKinney-Vento Homeless Education for Brunswick County Schools, said “some people just don’t believe that we have a homeless problem,” citing growing numbers to show otherwise. In the 2018-19 school year, 432 students, plus 25 siblings, were identified under the MV program compared to 355 and 38 in 2017-18. “Don’t think that our numbers are not going to climb this year,” she said, adding there is another peak after Christmas when families may have spent more money than they could afford and are evicted when they can’t pay the rent.

‘Making generosity count’

BFA executive director Stephanie Bowen, speaking on the theme of “making generosity count,” said there has been a surge of displacement and food insecurity since the hurricanes.


Thank you for reading this excerpt from the Brunswick Beacon. Read the entire article at the following link: Eighth Hunger & Homeless soup banquet stirs up issues

Laura Lewis is assistant editor for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.

Article copyright (c) 2019 The Brunswick Beacon. The Brunswick Beacon is your source for local news, sports, events and information in Brunswick County, North Carolina and surrounding areas.

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition
P. O. Box 7411, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
1-888-519-5362 – http://brunswickhomeless.com/

Dear Friends,

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, we offer thanks for all we have, and many choose to donate time and resources to others. In that spirit of giving, The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) invites the public to the eighth annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon, November 16, 2018, from 10am-2pm, at the Brunswick Center at Calabash, 10050 Beach Dr., Calabash, NC. The doors open at 9:00am. The focus of Brunswick County’s registered event observing National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is “Making Generosity Count.” This year’s banquet is sponsored by Rotary Club of Shallotte, NC. Speakers include government officials, community leaders and individuals who have themselves faced homelessness, featuring special guest and keynote speaker Stephanie Bowen, executive director, Brunswick Family Assistance Agency.

Come learn about and contribute to solutions to homelessness. Admission is free. Tax-deductible donations are welcome. Visit our website at http://brunswickhomeless.com/ (brunswick homeless dot com) to reserve your space and help us plan. Walk-in admissions the day of the event are also welcome. The more people attending the event, the better to spread our message—so please invite (or bring) a friend.

The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness annually sponsor Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. In 2019, during the week of November 16-24, hundreds of colleges, high schools, and community groups across the country will come together to raise awareness about the pressing issues of hunger and homelessness.

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) is a group of volunteers from faith-based ministries, not-for-profit organizations, local agencies and concerned citizens coming together for the greater good of Brunswick County’s homeless and in-need population: advocating, educating and providing resources for those who are homeless or in need. BCHC meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc. in Shallotte, NC. We welcome your attendance and participation.


Brunswick County Homeless Coalition

Hunger and Homelessness: The Causes and Cures
By Elisabeth Duarte

Oct., 2019; Brunswick County, NC–There is a common misconception that people become homeless as a result of mismanaging money, making poor decisions, or through drug or alcohol abuse. While some of these factors can contribute to homelessness, none of them are the sole cause of it.

Guests at the 2018 banquet discuss solutions specific to Brunswick County, NC

What the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, a private nonprofit 501(c)3, and a staff of volunteers that assists people in Brunswick County, North Carolina, has observed, is that many people may be just one event away from becoming homeless. Many of these events are beyond one’s control, like natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods, to more mundane things such as unexpected illness, or injury or losing a job, that can take us from safe and secure to hungry and homeless.

For Jose Ruiz, for example, it was when he and his pregnant wife, Suzie, discovered black mold in their rented double-wide mobile home in the spring of 2019. This was the event that caused them and their five-year-old son, and unborn child to become homeless. Their landlord wasn’t able to eradicate the mold, and they couldn’t stay in the house as it was, so they called the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition’s 888 number (1-888-519-5362) and filled out an intake form over the phone with a volunteer. They were placed in a motel for several days until they could secure other housing.

Stephanie Bowen, Executive Director for Brunswick Family Assistance Agency, at the 2017 Hunger and Homeless Banquet. Photo Credit: Jessica J, BCHC

For Veronica and her two preschool age children, the event was a tornado that preceded Hurricane Dorian that took the roof right off their rented mobile home, and the rain that followed that destroyed the home’s contents. The family was forced to relocate. But where would they go? Veronica called the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition’s 888 line and a volunteer arranged for short-term emergency shelter while she considered her options.

A third request was from a family of five, a single mom and her four children, whose air conditioner unit had quit working and their single wide trailer was unbearably hot without the window unit working. The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition discussed it at their monthly meeting, took up a collection and Paul Witmer, BCHC’s Veteran Advocate and Joe Staton, President, purchased a unit and Joe personally installed it with the help of a neighbor.

Joe Staton, President, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, works this past summer to install an air conditioner for a client family in Supply, NC. Photo credit: Elisabeth D., BCHC

Many calls that come in are requests for help with rent or power bills which allows tenants to stay in their existing homes. “The Coalition’s goal is to keep people in safe, stable, permanent housing where possible or to help them find it if necessary”, says Staton.

Left: Barbara Serafin and Betsy Duarte work to prepare the soup line for the Seventh Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon in Shallotte, NC. Photo Credit: Kate P., BCHC; Right: Volunteers serve homemade soups to those attending the Sixth Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon in Leland, NC. Photo Credit: Jessica J., BCHC

Stephanie Bowen, Executive Director of Brunswick Family Assistance, said that with a budget of $70,000 and a huge volunteer effort , she was able to distribute water, food, and clothing to those in need in a county hard hit by Hurricane Florence. Ms. Bowen says she could “never have accomplished this mammoth task without the tireless efforts of hundreds of volunteers throughout the county.”

Ms. Bowen will be the keynote speaker at the 8th Annual Hunger & Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon at the Brunswick Center at Calabash on Saturday, November 16th from 10:00 am – 2:00 p.m.

The Rotary Club of Shallotte is sponsoring the event this year.

Please come out to learn more about bringing volunteers and donations together to help solve a serious problem in Brunswick County.

Disaster Relief

The North Carolina Emergency Management hotline number for individual damage from Hurricane Dorian: 919 825-2378

Official Shelter Information

As of Wed. Sept. 4, 2019, shelter information from the Brunswick County, NC website:

As of 8 a.m. today [Sept. 4], three public, pet-friendly shelters have opened in Brunswick County.

North Brunswick High School: 114 Scorpion Drive, Leland, NC
West Brunswick High School: 550 Whiteville Road, Shallotte, NC
South Brunswick High School: 280 Cougar Road, Boiling Spring Lakes, NC

Also, Brunswick County Emergency Services has a computerized registry of people with special medical needs who may require special assistance in the event of a disaster. Sign up for the registry at https://fs19.formsite.com/ubwatts/form165290145/index.html

Emergency Evacuation Assistance
Tue. Sept. 3, 2019 – IF YOU NEED EMERGENCY HELP specifically with getting to a Brunswick County storm shelter, Brunswick County Emergency Services may be able to help; (910) 253-5383.

Road Conditions

Road Conditions
Storm winds and rains can close roads and create hazardous road conditions. The North Carolina and South Carolina departments of transportation offer interactive online maps reporting current road closures and conditions.

North Carolina Roads: https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/RegionSummary.aspx?co=10
• Road or Lane Closures are indicated by Yellow diamond symbols; select a symbol to see the reason for the closure.

South Carolina Roads: https://scdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=f89dbb607181411b86e999ed2897fb21
• Road or Lane Closures are highlighted in purple; select a highlighted area to see what the problem is.

Both maps allow pan and zoom to find the travel area of interest.

WARNING: Driving over flooded or damaged areas of a roadway or street is NOT SAFE. A placid body of flood water over a roadway may conceal a washout and deep and dangerous conditions. Turn Around, Don’t Drown(R).

County Hurricane Hotlines

County Hurricane Hotline and Recovery Numbers
As published on WECT-TV6
• County Hotline Numbers will have official evacuation and shelter information.
• After the storm, you may call your county’s hotline/recovery number, listed below, for specific disaster relief information.

Brunswick County: 910-253-5383
New Hanover County: 910-798-6800
Pender County: 910-259-1210
Columbus County: 910-640-6610
Bladen County: 910-862-7813


  • Updated 9-5-2019 with Road Conditions and Hotline Numbers

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Are you a “people person” with good organizational skills?

Do you have strong communications skills and leadership initiative?

Do you have time to give back to your community?

The Volunteer Coordinator is a key volunteer position for BCHC. The Volunteer Coordinator:

· Maintains the membership contact list and skills inventories

· Notifies members of monthly meetings and special events via email

· Contacts and tracks volunteer assignments for events and tasks

· Communicates with the board of directors and volunteer leaders

· Attends bimonthly membership meetings

Helpful skills and experience would include:

· Creating spreadsheets

· Use of word processing programs

· Use of e-mail

To volunteer, please contact Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition

2018 Statistics

During 2018, the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition responded to about 232 calls for assistance, with about 147 callers assisted with paying utilities/eviction prevention, 14 with paying rent or mortgage, 21 needing emergency shelter, 31 receiving referrals to specific agencies for other assistance, and 19 veterans in need of veteran-specific assistance.

Our direct aid is funded entirely by private grants and donations like yours. Please consider donating any amount to help our neighbors in need.