ECCCM’s Response to the coronavirus pandemic

In early March, 2020, it was becoming clear that the emerging spread of COVID-19 was going to become a critical issue that would impact ECCCM, its operations and its services to the residents of Catawba County. Early on, both the City of Newton and Catawba County officials deemed that ECCCM would be considered an essential operation that would not close. With this, ECCCM began its preparations for a global pandemic that none of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

Community COVID Response

Area individuals, churches, for profit businesses, non-profit agencies, foundations, along with federal, state and local governments came together with critical funding streams to help impacted residents. Through many people and their critical support, Catawba County has rallied together to help its neighbors.

The Governor’s Orders established moratoriums to avoid further impact to those who lost jobs and paychecks.

  • As moratoriums on mortgage and rent payments end, critical assistance is necessary to avoid evictions.

  • As moratoriums on utility bills end, critical assistance is necessary to avoid disconnections.

“How can we help?”
— members of the community

Already, our community has responded in a positive manner.

      • ECCCM received many inquiries from concerned residents, businesses and foundations, for meaningful ways they could help. A COVID-response fund was established with the resulting donations.

      • Through the CARES Act, a Community Service Block Grant was received by Catawba County DSS. ECCCM was contracted to disburse this fund to help residents impacted by COVID-19, as moratoriums ended and past housing expenses were due.

      • Multiple streams of commodities ensured that ECCCM’s Charlie Bunn Food Pantry would maintain sufficient food to distribute to those in need. As jobs failed, and unemployment increased, the ECCCM food pantry activity increased.


With tremendous support from our community, ECCCM has responded in a positive manner to all needs. All staff members continued to faithfully report to work, concerned for the needs of area residents. Social distancing, sanitization, face masks, and temperature checks became the daily norm to keep everyone safe.

      • Many lost jobs as businesses closed due to COVID. Some experienced positive COVID illnesses and needed help.

      • Job losses led to increased hunger relief, as many impacted families were struggling to purchase food as paychecks stopped.

      • School students, and their families, were impacted when classes stopped and schools tried to provide some food.

      • Case management extends a life-line to families, helping them reorient to new realities with caring case managers.

“We are committed to providing services to a community in need”
— Rev. Robert Silber, Executive Director

Case Management

Responding to community needs, ECCCM took positive actions:

      • ECCCM follows CDC and NC guidelines for safety protocols including social distancing, face masks, sanitization and temperature checks.

      • ECCCM established electronic applications for all agency services. Now, during this critical time, persons do not have to choose between personal safety and applying for assistance.

      • All case management services, including Crisis Assistance Coaching Program classes, are available online.

      • Intensive case management is helping residents navigate this new reality, getting them solidly on their feet.

      • COVID-19 relief funds are available to those impacted by the pandemic.

      • Providing increased assistance with all housing needs: Mortgage and rent payments, utility bills, and extenuating needs related to COVID.

      • The Student Hunger Prevention Program expanded to include Hickory Public Schools. Now all schools in Catawba County, including CVCC, are covered by the ECCCM Student Hunger Prevention Program.

Did you know???

Hunger is a social determinant of health. Families who experience hunger are more likely to suffer adverse health conditions, which have negative effects on their lives.

Students who experience hunger perform below grade level as low nutritional levels negatively impact developing bodies and brains. This is a negative social determinant that impacts students for life.

The elderly, who experience hunger, suffer debilitating issues that negatively impact their health, and can lead to early end of life issues.

ECCCM’s Hunger Relief Programs, and related investment across all age groups in the community, address hunger issues with systemic solutions.

“ For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

-Matthew 25:35-36 (NRSV)