By Barbara Yarbrough
The women of First Presbyterian Church have a tradition of providing financial support to many worthy causes, often with a focus on women and children. Although grants are made every year, in 2019, after successful fundraisers and generous pledges, a special one-time grant process was initiated.
Barbara Yarbrough, who is a court appointed children’s guardian ad litem (GAL), was on the initial design committee for a new Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and encouraged the Center to apply for a grant. A grant was awarded by the Presbyterian Women, but COVID and other factors delayed the beginning of construction until 2021. Fittingly the new facility was opened during Child Abuse Prevention Month. The new 8000 square foot facility, designed to look like a home, is quite a contrast to the 800 square foot basement where the CAC was previously housed.
On April 24, several women members made a visit to see the beautiful welcoming facility which includes interview rooms, a medical examination room, therapy rooms, play areas, outdoor spaces, and offices.
Known as The Lighthouse, the CAC is a safe, child friendly location for children to speak with trained professionals about allegations of abuse or neglect. At the CAC, community partners come to the child. Services are child focused with a multi-disciplinary team including law enforcement, department of social services, medical and mental health professionals, schools, attorneys, guardians ad litem, and more.
The new facility offers much needed space and layout improvements which allow for a more child-friendly environment to help reduce stress for children who have endured severe trauma. CAC Program Manager Heather Kauffman has said, “We believe this new space will be a place where they will feel safe and where we can help achieve justice for the wrongs committed against them.
When the child graduates from therapy at the CAC, they fill two bottles with colorful sand – one to take with them and one is left at the CAC with a note of encouragement for others. Some of the messages read “Don’t be shy – they can help you”; “It’s ok to be scared”; “Therapy is hard but in the end, you will be grateful you went” and “Don’t worry, it’s not your fault”.
The CAC served more than 400 children in our community in 2022, which included 439 forensic interviews, 587 therapy sessions, and making more than 1,500 advocacy contacts. The Lighthouse CAC is located on south New Hope Road on property leased for $1 per year by City Church.
By Carol Brittain
Presbyterian Women of First Presbyterian Church Gastonia is made up of all women church members who are divided into Circles which meet each month. The circles have bible study and contribute to the life of the church by supporting college students, feeding bereaved families, and making casseroles for Crisis Care. Presbyterian Woman also sponsor Blanket Sunday, support a sewing ministry, and give a gift to the church each year in honor of those women who have passed away. The Food Fest/Bake Sale supports missions in our local community and beyond. This year eleven organizations have been supported from the work of Presbyterian Women.
Each year the Presbyterian Women of first Presbyterian Church join other women throughout the denomination to make donations through the Birthday Luncheon. These donations to missions encourage women to celebrate the blessings in their lives. These missions are vetted by Presbyterian Women’s national board.
The Birthday luncheon allows our FPC women not only to make mission donations but also to recognize the activities of the year. Moderator 2022/23 Coleman Efird summarized the years activities, and Moderator 2023/24 Kate Buckles with Amy Spencer recognized the women who died this past year.
Two women were recognized for there extensive work for our church with Life Membership recognition. Both Dottie LaFar and Betsy Summer have contributed in various areas of leadership and service to Presbyterian Women and First Presbyterian Gastonia.
Photography courtesy of Caleb Hayes
By Sally Hilton
Have you ever seen the hands and feet of God at work? If not, you will when you visit Black Mountain Home for Children.
A retired Gastonia Presbyterian Church pastor began the children’s home as the Mountain Orphanage in 1904 which outgrew its first two locations to the current campus in 1923 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Black Mountain Home for Children serves newborns through college age. They are licensed to serve all children in North Carolina and have served several from Gaston County.
Children are placed there through the court system or social services after it is determined their homes are unsafe. Many children come from abusive situations including physical, emotional, sexual and are faced with a wide array of hardships, including homelessness, neglect, hunger, abandonment and drug exposure.
A safe home environment is provided to the children through their Campus-Based Cottage Care and their Independent Living Village. Since the beginning of the Independent Living Village in 2008, the graduation rate of 89% for the youth at Black Mountain Home exceeds the national average of youth in foster care, which is 52%.
Plan to join our church family on Saturday, May 20 to learn more about Black Mountain Home. You can sign up by filling out the form below. Volunteer opportunities are available for all ages. Transportation will be available for those who would prefer not to drive separately and lunch will be provided. Meet at the church by 7:15 am so we may leave no later than 7:30 am. We plan to arrive at Black Mountain around 9:00 am. If driving separately, the address is 28 Tennoca Dr, Black Mountain, NC. We are meeting at the RV Park behind the thrift store.
Information to know: