CareNet Counseling East Works with the Homeless Through the UCM

United Community Ministries (UCM) was founded in 1977.  It is a non-profit organization composed of local religious, governmental and private supporters who are committed to addressing the needs of the homeless and nearly homeless populations in Nash and Edgecombe Counties in Eastern NC.  Located in Rocky Mount, UCM is the only emergency shelter and transitional housing for the general homeless population in the area. They served over 340 homeless individuals last year. UCM provides emergency shelter and also feeds an average of 30,000 meals annually through its soup kitchen.



UCM’s three-fold components start with the McDonald Street Shelter. This is the place where homeless, single adults, both male and female, can find housing. Many of them are there because of poor life choices, some because of addictive behavior. Many times these individuals have no other resources – either they’re cut off from family or because of no money, they can’t afford or do any differently.


At the shelter, the inhabitants are constantly attending group therapy and training. The staff is trying to help elevate the skill level of the persons involved. After they have been at the shelter for a period of time to establish themselves, learn the rules and accomplish a certain number of points (through their point system), then they can begin on-campus or on-site jobs. Once they’ve proved themselves worthy, they can have jobs off site. The residents set multiple goals; among them are being able to maintain some type of job, working toward reconciliation with family or getting themselves to a healthier place so that they don’t go back and repeat the cycles that exist. They often come from many non-functional patterns of behavior that the staff of UCM and the CareNet Counseling East’s clinician, David Winstead, a second-year Master’s-level student at East Carolina University (Marriage and Family Therapy program), helps to change.


“The staff tell uplifting stories about several situations where one member of a family had come, received the skills that they needed and gotten their ‘life on track.’ Then they would send the next member of the family to receive services.


They have success rates in some individuals who had gone from a place of joblessness and homelessness to where they are now managing restaurants and hotels and becoming not only healthy individuals but also giving back to the community.


I think, honestly, it is one of those aspects of the work we do that isn’t often heard about but is so very rewarding.”

Janie Taylor, Interim Coordinator of Clinical Services, CareNet, Inc


In 2001, UCM opened the Bassett Center to help meet the ever-present need of housing for families with children who are at-risk for homelessness. Records indicate that more than 600 children have been identified as homeless within the Nash-Rocky Mount School system. Bassett is said to have an average of 45 families on its waiting list for housing at all times.


For the past year, CareNet Counseling East has worked with the personnel at the McDonald Street shelter and Bassett Center to schedule their clinician. They expect to add a second clinician by the end of July so that they will be on-site two days a week and hope that later they may partner with UCM to serve some of the victims of domestic violence through a different and fellow ministry of UCM. None of the individuals who are in the center and are served by CNCE have any type of health insurance. As a result, they are at the mercies of whatever system exists for not only their medical care but also for their psychotherapy needs. The CareNet services are provided at no expense to any of the clients or to the center itself.


The third program that UCM operates is the PHP, Permanent Housing Program, and it is for individuals who have been able to maintain their goals who are moving to a place with independence through this transitional housing.


CareNet Counseling East was able to discover this ministry existed by means of the president of the Rocky Mount Advisory Board, the Rev. Jody Wright, who pastors Lakeside Baptist Church, and the executive director of UCM, Chris Battle, who is also a member of the Rocky Mount Advisory Board. This partnership is a great way for them to serve persons who were underserved and to give back to the community. It’s a very collaborative work between the UCM personnel, some of the medical providers in the area and CareNet Counseling East.


“We have found that every time we reach out to someone, we are enriched as well,” reflects Janie Taylor.


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