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Church partners with agency to help with COVID stress

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or helpless about the coronavirus pandemic?

You are not alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn as well as the isolation created by social distancing, school and business closures, and shelter-in-place orders have negatively affected many people’s mental health and emotional well-being.

Smith Grove United Methodist Church in Mocksville wants to help.

The church has partnered with the NC Rural Center in Raleigh and local counselors to provide reduced rate and free counseling services for those in Davie County who have faced trauma during COVID-19.

“It is our vision to be able to provide this necessary care with a small out of pocket cost or even free if necessary,” said Pastor Darren Crotts. “We feel that everyone in our community would benefit from this.”

Excited about the program’s potential, Drew Sewell and Lorri Hayes, licensed clinical mental health counselors with Evexia Counseling and Consultation, agreed to provide counseling for a reduced rate of $65 an hour.

“I started Evexia because I saw a need that could be uniquely addressed through community and church partnerships,” said Sewell. “Smith Grove has gone above and beyond to step up, side by side with Evexia, and lead the charge in meeting people in Davie County where they are with compassionate ministry. Together, we are trying something new and hoping to have a new closeness in the community, where professional help is available and affordable. The ultimate goal of Evexia is to ensure that costs to consumers are kept at reasonable rates regardless of insurance or income.”

No one will be turned away because of the inability to pay, Crotts said. The church received a grant of $4,000 from the NC Rural Center to subsidize payment.

Crotts said the center invited the church to apply for a grant to help fund a Covid-19-related community program because of its previous involvement with the organization’s Faith in Rural Communities initiative, a pilot program funded by the Duke Endowment to support churches in increasing their community engagement through coaching, resources, and grant assistance.

“The relationships developed through our community dialogues, have created lasting impacts. Our partnership with Evexia is evidence of how a community can come together to support the health and wholeness of everyone,” he said. “We are so thankful to the NC Rural Center for their support in these efforts in Davie County.”

Counseling sessions will be provided by teleconference using Doxy.me, a HIPAA-certified online meeting tool.

Once the stay-at-home restrictions are fully lifted, clients will have the additional option of confidential face-to-face sessions at either of the church’s campuses at 3492 US 158, Mocksville, or 197 Main St., Cooleemee.

The church is seeking referrals from Davie Schools, Davie Health and Human Services, Family Promise of Davie, Davie Medical Center, and other local service agencies. Individuals may call (313) 509-7168 to schedule a free consultation.