CareNet of Harnett County

As reported by Nick DeJesus, MDiv, MA, LPC – Interim Director, CareNet of Harnett Counseling Center

The CareNet of Harnett center was born partly out of need and partly out of a dream of how that need might be met. In 2003 in Harnett County, as in other counties across the state at that same time, there was great anxiety about the fallout of the State’s Mental Health Reform, with its plan to end all counseling services in public clinics and refer clients to private providers. The obvious need in Harnett County was for counselors – there were then few private therapists practicing in the county, and even fewer serving uninsured and under-insured clients.

The dreamer who envisioned how this need might be met was the Reverend Dan Deaton, Director of Missions of the Little River Baptist Association. He envisioned opening a CareNet counseling center in Harnett County – a center in which professionally trained and certified counselors would offer counseling that would draw upon a client’s faith in working toward growth and healing. As it is said, the rest is history.

Since Mr. Deaton’s letter on December 15, 2003, inviting interested county leaders to attend a dinner to discuss his dream, countless of others have joined him in making this dream a reality. Now 8 ½ years later, after functioning as a satellite center of the CareNet counseling center in Fayetteville, NC, this dream has taken the form of a mission, with a clear vision to expand services by becoming a free-standing, fully operational CareNet center, effective August 1, 2012. Following the wisdom and leadership of two directors over the past 8 years, Dr. Frank Daniels (2004-2006) and Dr. Ron Wachs (2006-2012), Nick DeJesus has assumed the role of interim director, and is currently working with the board, on which Rev. Dan Deaton still serves, to continue growing the Harnett center, while also continuing the process of expanding services to Johnston, Sampson, and Southern-Wake Counties. (Adapted from the CareNet of Harnett County history report.)

The center has a lot of clergy and congregational support. Community awareness of the presence, mission and services CareNet of Harnett provides continues to grow.

“The time is now,” stated Interim Director Nick DeJesus, while also citing a recent news article that revealed the Harnett County city of Dunn, NC to be leading the nation’s micro areas in growth. By the Census Bureau’s reckoning, the Dunn micro area, which consists wholly of Harnett County, gained more residents in the 15 months ending last July 1 than any other micro area in the nation. The county added an estimated 4,578 residents, bringing its population to 119,256. That 4 percent increase was the fifth-fastest rate of growth among the country’s 575 micropolitan areas. According to DeJesus, the need for the CareNet Counseling Center of Harnett County has never been greater and the promise of the center’s future and mission has never been brighter. We are receiving record numbers of referrals from local clergy, medical offices, as well as Campbell University. CareNet of Harnett has had preliminary conversations of partnering with Campbell University Divinity School and soon-opening Campbell University Medical School, to serve as a potential internship site for students in training to become licensed counselors, pastoral counselors and medical professionals.

Working at the center is one center director, one director of fund development, an office manager and three licensed therapists. All CareNet of Harnett clinicians offer generalized counseling services to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families, while some have specializations in working with families, teens, substance abusers, sexual issues, marriage counseling and other specialty areas.

The Harnett center does still need financial support. While local grants and donations have been instrumental in getting the center started, they need additional monies to continue to carry out the center’s mission and vision of becoming a regional center for Harnett County and the surrounding areas. As they move toward this goal, the local board is developing a strategy to realize its needs in order that mental health access will be available to more persons.

If the integration of faith and mental healthcare is important to you, gifts can be sent to CareNet of Harnett – PO Box 489, Erwin NC 28339. To refer a client, please call 910.897.8930 or visit our website at

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  1. CareNet Residents Help Fulfill Local Centers’ Mission « CareNet Counseling

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