May 13, 2023 at 12:16 p.m.

Gateway Gaston: Serving The Common Good

Burks: program makes difference in lives of many
Gateway Gaston: Serving The Common Good
Gateway Gaston: Serving The Common Good

Thomas Lark- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

It’s all about helping one’s fellow human beings.

It’s Gateway Gaston. And according to program co-ordinator Dwayne Burks, it’s making a big difference in the lives of countless local folks, getting them connected with the help they need.

Burks, also a noted Baptist pastor and a volunteer chaplain for the Gaston County Family YMCA’s, recently shared more about Gateway.

How, he asked rhetorically, would you handle these situations?

  • Friends suddenly lose their jobs without warning.
  • Someone stops you in a parking lot and asks for a hand-out.
  • You’re overwhelmed by your financial situation.
  • A friend is bereaved or depressed.
  • Co-workers ask you where they may get parenting guidance.

The Gateway provides a single connection point to resources to address these and other human needs, with immediate pastoral care, referrals and more. The Gateway extends a hand-up and not just a hand-out to anyone in need. Just enter the names and contact numbers into the proper portals, and they’ll be immediately called by a qualified, caring member of the Gateway team. Prefer to send a text message? The text line is (704) 800-3836, Burks added.

He spoke further about Gateway’s purpose.

“The Gateway Gaston exists as a safety net to connect our community for the common good,” he said. “Your Gateway referral could change someone’s life, by extending a true hand-up that places individuals on journeys that connect them with such resources as counseling, life coaching and fully integrated support services. All support requests are handled within 90 minutes of submission to the Gateway portal. Dignity and respect are the cornerstones of all Gateway/client interactions. 

“The Gateway Gaston was launched to meet a recurring need within the community,” he continued. “As Gateway’s founding members worked with human-services providers, it became clear that collaboration was limited and agencies were siloed. The process of finding resources was exasperating for volunteers, faith community members, non-profit organizations and most importantly, end-users themselves. A Gateway-sponsored initial community needs to assess and further verify these challenges.”

In 2011, Burks, a veteran of the human-services sector, recognized the repeated request for an accessible resource guide. The research concluded that many resource guides existed but were obsolete almost upon publication. He connected with CaroMont Health, the United Way, Crisis Assistance Ministries, local clergy and others to develop a current community resource guide. More than 90 local service-providers collaborated in this project. Gateway then launched its Resource Connection pilot program, committing to sustaining a resource guide rooted in inter-agency relationships with non-profits, houses of worship, end-user clients and service-providers.

“The Gateway has never strayed from its mission of connecting our community for the common good,” said Burks. “This effort is rooted in relationships that are mutually beneficial for all involved parties.”

As relationships have matured, Burks has routinely been invited to fill Sunday pulpit needs, supporting the Gateway’s mission with ecumenical, cross-denominational partnerships that, prior to the Gateway’s existence, had never existed in Gaston County.

“To me,” he said, “this is a holy privilege that is not entered into lightly.”

More about Gateway Gaston
Burks also thanked the grantors that’ve supported Gateway. Groups providing grants for Gateway initiatives include the:

  • Community Foundation of Gaston County;
  • Carrie and Lena Foundation of Gastonia;
  • First Gaston Foundation;
  • Gaston County Family Advisory Board;
  • Presbyterian Endowment Trust of the First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia;
  • and the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

And that Gateway Portal? It’s www.gatewaygaston.com. Take the respective career coaching, basic housing and financial coaching surveys at www.gatewaygaston.org/career-coaching, www.gatewaygaston.org/housing-survey and www.gatewaygaston.org/financial-coaching.



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