CCCC receives Verizon domestic violence grant

Oct. 20, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

From domestic abuse survivor to small business owner — that’s the goal of a $12,000 grant from Verizon to Central Carolina Community College’s Small Business Center.

CCCC is the first educational institution in North Carolina to receive a Verizon Open Doors Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program Grant. Representatives of the college, Verizon Wireless, and area and state agencies that serve victims of domestic violence gathered at the college’s Lee County Campus Thursday to present and kick off the program.

“Domestic violence affects every aspect of life,” said Greg Currie, Verizon Wireless associate director of Business Sales for North Carolina. “The spirit of entrepreneurship is what this country is built on. If we can empower these people, we can really influence their lives for good. This is the start of something that’s really going to be a big help to these women.”

Bernetta Thigpen, director of the Northern Piedmont Region of the N.C. Council for Women, noted that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. She said that three women are impacted by domestic violence every minute in the United States.

“What do women need to get back on their feet?” she said. “Education. CCCC’s Human Resources Development programs have been working with area agencies serving domestic violence victims for years. Now the Small Business Center is a part of that.”

Thigpen said that she and Dale Fey, former CCCC Small Business Center director, started talking about helping some domestic violence survivors develop small business ownership skills as another way to move forward with their lives. A grant was submitted to Verizon and awarded in late 2012.

Current SBC director Mike Jones is excited about the initiative’s possibilities.

“It was a pleasure to get involved in this,” he said. “I believe there will be a lot of good results.”

The agencies that work with domestic violence survivors develop case management plans for those they assist in order to determine what they need to move forward with their lives, whether a job, job training or education.

If there is an interest in starting a small business, then the person will be connected with the Small Business Center. Three domestic violence survivors will be selected to take part in the program from each of the counties in the college’s service area of Chatham, Harnett and Lee.

Jones said the grant-funded initiative will launch in February 2014 and have three phases:

First, through the SBC, the selectees will learn the fundamentals of starting a business, such as working with finances, record keeping, and taxes. When they’ve successfully completed that training, the SBC, the recommending agency, and a female business person from the community will work with them over a period of six weeks to develop a viable business plan. The business would, most likely, be one that the person could operate from home.

The third phase will be incremental distributions of the Verizon grant money through the CCCC Foundation as the grant partners determine that the person is making progress toward the goal of having a viable business.

“The financial and economic abuse battered women experience is one the most difficult problems,” said Kathy Hodges, executive director of Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Chatham County. “The economic piece is the glue that keeps them stuck in dangerous and violent relationships. This program provides hope not only for those who go through it, but also for other abused women, giving them a sense of good things that can happen.”

The local Verizon-funded Open Doors Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program is a collaborative effort of CCCC’s Small Business Center, N.C. Council for Women, N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, SAFE of Harnett County, Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Chatham County, and Haven of Lee County.

Businesswomen wanting to volunteer to mentor a program client can contact one of the CCCC’s Small Business Center directors: Gary Kibler in Chatham County, gkibler@cccc.edu or (919) 542-6495, ext. 215; Nancy Blackman, in Harnett County, nblackman@cccc.edu or (910) 892-2884; or Mike Jones in Lee County, mjones@cccc.edu or (919) 718-7424.

Those needing help to escape domestic violence or who are interested in possibly participating in the Open Doors program should contact a domestic violence victims’ service agency in their county: Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services in Chatham, (919) 542-5445; SAFE of Harnett County, (910) 893-8981; or Haven in Lee County, (919) 774-8923.