Sandy Harris didn’t plan on becoming the volunteer executive director of Pender County Christian Services
But Harris, whose husband is a minister, started volunteering at PCCS about 23 years ago after an accident sidelined her from her career as a medical office manager.
“I was called to this. This is not a job,” she said. “This is a mission. … when you’re called by the Lord, you don’t tell him what you’re going to do or not do. He tells you what you’re going to do. My heart is to help people in need.”
PCCS is a multi-faceted nonprofit organization catering to people in need in Pender County. In addition to providing food, clothing and furniture, it also serves as a referral agency and a disaster response organization; prepares individuals for a working environment; offers case management for those in need; operates the local Emergency Food Assistance Program, a federal program; and often helps supplement families in need with their electric bills, prescriptions and rent, said Barbara Hardin, PCCS Board of Directors chair and media representative.
“PCCS also works with area churches to provide backpacks for school-age children that are at risk of going hungry on weekends. PCCS is a partner with the Pender Long Term Recovery Group and is working diligently on the Unmet Needs Committee to identify those that are in need of assistance,” Hardin said. “Great strides were made in 2020 to provide more nutritional supplements to the elderly and cancer patients in need. Ensure and Glucerna are provided to these clients, as well as incontinence supplies.”
Hardin said in 2020, PCCS served more than 23,000 families and 53,444 individuals with food and clothing.
“PCCS has actually seen a major upward trend in the past several years for the need to assist with food and supplemental needs,” Hardin said. “In addition to those who lost their homes and businesses, many have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut.”
Because of the increase in need and the growth of PCCS, the agency has already filled a 2018 addition at its current facility at 210 W. Fremont St. in Burgaw.
As a result, Harris is in the process of a capital campaign and the search for property to hold a 20,000-squarefoot structure.
When it comes to funding sources, Harris said one of her favorite phrases is “unity through community.”
“We have a tight-knit community here of businesses, churches and individuals that support Pender County Christian Services and have for many years,” she said.
She said the agency also gets grants from foundations and donations from individuals outside Pender County. Harris said PCCS also has relationships with other nonprofit organizations to help meet the need for services.
In the end, Harris said she is “privileged and honored to serve the citizens of Pender County. It has helped me grow tremendously with my relationships and partnerships and I’ve met a lot of fine people. The joy of what I do is getting to tell my story and getting to let people know what we do.”
Click here to meet all of this year's CEA winners