Awaken Ministries

Still from video of a recent worship service held by Awaken Ministries at an encampment for the homeless in Southern Pines. (Photograph via Facebook)

A meeting in Aberdeen on Tuesday led to the formation of a new group focused on helping the homeless population in Moore County.

The group, tentatively named Lifting Lives, is made up of church leaders and residents who are active in local nonprofits. Cliff Brown, a retired sergeant with the state Department of Corrections and former president of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, spearheaded the gathering.

According to Brown, there had been plans to organize a meeting to address homelessness in the Sandhills before The Pilot published an article last week about unsheltered residents. Brown said the article, which included a look inside one of several encampments for the homeless in Moore County, “sparked interest” in the issue.

“As soon as it was posted online, people started talking and saying they’d like to do something,” Brown said.

Originally proposed as a small brainstorming session at Double Eagle Bar and Grill, the gathering was moved to Cross Way Church of Worship in Aberdeen to accommodate the larger-than-expected turnout.

One of the presenters, Tommy Scarboro of Awaken Ministries, talked about how his organization has donated food and conducted worship services at the encampment, which is located in the woods and is home to as many as a dozen people living in tents. Gary and Karen Ashley, both pastors at Cross Way, also shared information about how their church has worked to assist members of the encampment.

Other people who participated in the inaugural meeting included Jon Rachels, director of Operation AWOL in Vass; Michael Wright of Proverbs 24:3 Accounting Services in Southern Pines; Mia Bowden of MK Schwarz Design; Sue Deutsch of The Pines Times; and Michael McKay and Samuel Levinson of the Food Bank of Central Eastern North Carolina.

“I am excited to see such a strong kickoff for this new group that has a common goal to work toward,” Brown wrote in an email after the meeting. “I envision this group one day being the ‘clearing house' for all resources to assist homeless, unsheltered individuals that have fallen upon bad times.”

Brown said he hopes to see the group grow and develop strategies to assist the homeless in the coming weeks. The next meeting will be held 6 p.m. Tuesday at the church, which is located at 197 Ridgeline Drive in Aberdeen.

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