Current Events
Department of Health and Human Services Honored with 2015 Community Leadership Award PDF Print E-mail

The Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services has been selected by Gaston Together as the recipient of the 2015 Community Leadership Award.


“Gaston Together is proud to honor the Department of Health and Human Services for its long-standing commitment to improving community health and social services in Gaston County,” said Charlie Pearson, selection committee chairman. “It would be hard to find an individual in Gaston County who has not benefited from their services, either directly or in service to a friend or family member.”
The award will be presented at 6 p.m. March 31 at the Gaston Country Club. WBTV News anchor Maureen O’Boyle will emcee the event. The 2015 Gold Event Sponsors are Duke Energy; PSNC Energy; and Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund.


The Community Leadership Award is presented annually to an organization whose work has made a significant impact in improving the quality of life in Gaston County. It recognizes the ideals reflected in Gaston Together’s mission of collaboration and creative problem-solving. Past winners include Operation Playground, the Community Foundation Run, the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation, Gaston Family Health Services and Gaston College. Last year’s winner was Holy Angels.


Each year, the winner of the award receives a sculpture commissioned by Gaston Together. This sculpture is the “Circle of Caring,” an original piece of artwork designed by renowned artist Dr. Graham Weathers.
Gaston Together will also honor the finalist of its third-grade “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest, as well as announce the 2015 county-wide winner. This contest is open to all third-graders in the county in both public and private schools, and is sponsored by the Gaston County Education Foundation.
The essays are written by the students following their “Pride in Gaston” Traveling Tour field trip, which takes place in the fall of the school year. This year’s tour included visits to Holy Angels in Belmont, Discover You! in Mount Holly, the Gaston County Courthouse in Gastonia, and Gaston College in Dallas. The trip was developed by Gaston County as a community pride building program for young students. It was designed in partnership with Gaston County Schools to coincide with the third-grade study of community. The corporate sponsor of the 2104 tour was CaroMont Health. Program partners were Charlotte Paint Company, Tindol Ford Subaru, PSNC Energy, Carolina Trust Bank, Watson Insurance and Alliance Bank and Trust.

 
Biggers, Caldwell to Receive 2015 Gaston County MLK Unity Award PDF Print E-mail

Biggers and Caldwell to be Honored with the 2015 Gaston County MLK Unity Award


The Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition (GC3), an initiative of Gaston Together, will present the 2015 Gaston County MLK Unity Awards to James Converse Biggers, Jr. and Judge Jesse B. Caldwell III on Monday, January 19th at 10:30 am at the MLK Plaza. The Plaza is located on the corner of Marietta St. and Long Ave. in downtown Gastonia.

The Gaston County MLK Unity Award was established in 2004 by the GC3. The award recognizes current or former Gaston County citizens who have performed exemplary community service to help build bridges of unity across lines of race, class, gender, faith and/or municipalities within our county. Names of the honorees are engraved on the MLK Monument located at the Plaza. Some of the past winners include: Senator Marshall Rauch, the late N. A. Smith, Rev. Houston Matthews, the late Mrs. Peggie Ferguson and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Penegar.

Familiar to many as a native of Gaston County, James Biggers is a respected educator and visual artist. His art work reflects his African heritage and includes such works as the mural North Carolina Belongs to Children, in the North Carolina Legislative Building; the mural Celebrations, in the Charlotte Convention Center, and featured works in museums and art centers throughout the country. In 1977, he received a Fulbright-Hayes Grant to tour Japan as part of the North Carolina Art Teachers’ Japan Seminar at Duke University. He has worked closely with the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) on several projects.

Mr. Biggers has held teaching positions in public schools, colleges and a museum within the state of North Carolina. Now retired, Mr. Biggers taught in the Gaston County Schools for 30 years. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at Gaston College. Through his years as an educator and his thematic artwork, he has quietly sought to develop a better understanding of different cultures for the betterment of all citizens.

Jesse Caldwell also grew up in Gaston County, graduated from Hunter Huss High School, UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Law School. He has practiced law for more than twenty years including service with the Public Defenders Office, and has been a North Carolina Superior Court Judge since 1993. He is a recent President of the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges. Judge Caldwell is a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church in Gastonia where he has been active as a Sunday School teacher, a certified lay speaker and as a member of numerous and varied outreach and ministry programs.

Upon learning of this honor, Judge Caldwell said, “I am deeply humbled and honored to join James Biggers as one of the recipients of this distinguished recognition created in tribute to Dr. King, whose own dream was America's dream of treating everyone as equals, just like our Creator. My family, teachers, and public leaders inspired in me an appreciation that true equality best comes when we cultivate and celebrate our common humanity. All I have tried to do is imitate the many people of this community who every day build bridges of unity, both large and small, wherever God has placed them.”

The presentation of the awards will be part of an annual event designed by the GC3 to recognize the dream of Dr. King for all races. It is a dream very much alive in Gaston County. Please join the celebration as we honor those in our midst who have worked to build bridges of unity in our county.

The GC3 is a county-wide, non-denominational ministerial association formed in the late 1990’s by Gaston Together. The GC3 meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 9:00am at CaroMont Regional Hospital. For more information, please call Gaston Together (704-867-9869.)

 
Gaston Community Healthcare Commission Launches Healthy Gaston Community Campaign PDF Print E-mail

Gaston Community Healthcare Commission Launches

Healthy Gaston Community Campaign


2014 community forum attendees

On Wednesday, November 12th, the Gaston Community Healthcare Commission (GCHC), an initiative of Gaston Together, hosted their 2nd Annual Healthy Gaston Community Forum. The Forum focused on the Healthy Gaston initiative, which recognizes businesses, churches and schools, as they go through the   process of creating a “culture of wellness”.  

Forum attendees were welcomed by Gaston Together Executive Director, Donna Lockett. Guests then engaged in conversation with CaroMont Health CEO, Doug Luckett, as he stressed the importance of lowering the obesity rate in Gaston County. GCHC Board Chair, David Fogarty, shared the activities and outcomes of the past year and the engagement of Healthy Gaston in the community which included a pilot project at the Bethlehem West church. During 2014, Healthy Gaston volunteers also participated in the Bellies, Bodies and Brains at the Schiele Museum, the CaroMont Community Challenge and the YMCA Gaston Cup among other events.

Darcel Walker, GCHC Program Manager, revealed and explained the Healthy Gaston criteria. The criteria assists businesses, churches and schools in creating a culture of wellness within their organization and recognizes them for making positive changes.  They are encouraged to develop and implement “healthy” programming to accomplish health related goals, conduct program evaluations and of course, celebrate success!

2014 tote and programThe meeting closed with door prizes, including a 90-day family pass donated by the YMCA and a Fitbit Flex provided by the GCHC.  Event sponsors were Carolina Orthopaedic, Gaston Family Health Services, CaroMont Health and the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services.  If you are interested in learning more about building a culture of wellness at your business, church or school, please contact Patty Brooks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or at 704-867-9869 x110.

 
Gaston County Data Resource Dashboard Launched PDF Print E-mail

Gaston County Data Resource Dashboard Launched

 

Gaston Together and the Community Foundation of Gaston County work with the UNCC Urban Institute to create new online resource

 

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A new data resource about Gaston County is available through online, interactive dashboards. Trends on the county’s demographics, economy, education, health and quality of life are tracked and compared to peer counties as well as state and national figures.

This program represents a continuing partnership coordinated by Gaston Together and other local Gaston County groups with UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. Support from the Community Foundation of Gaston County has allowed for the interactive data tool to be made public on the web.

Gaston is the first county in the Charlotte region to become a data partner with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, as a part of the institute’s Regional Indicators Partners program. The Charlotte Regional Indicators Project tracks and assesses key indicators of quality of life for the 14-county, two-state region around Charlotte. The project provides objective, reliable and relevant data measuring the region’s progress on a wide range of social, economic, and environmental indicators.

To complement the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project, the institute launched the Indicator Partners Program in 2010. This is an initiative to form long-term, strategic data partnerships between the institute and community organizations.

Gaston Together looked to community agencies to help fund the development phase of their indicator partnership.  Gaston College, Gaston Family Health Services and the Gaston County United Way partnered to invest in the project. 

In 2013, the Community Foundation of Gaston County provided support that has made the data on the site available to the general public. Now, anyone can access information for planning purposes, grant writing and marketing. The site also creates a common base of knowledge to identify strengths and weaknesses, community needs and successes. The goal is to provide the greater community with the data and evidence needed to achieve better outcomes for its citizens.  The website address is:  ui.uncc.edu/data/partner/gastontogether. 

After two years of development, the site was officially launched at a public event May 14 at Gaston College. The community was invited to bring their own technology to use as institute staff introduced the data dashboard and demonstrated how it could be used. 


Formed in 1997, Gaston Together brings the people and resources of Gaston County together to address community issues through the principles and best practices of collaboration, facilitation, promotion and the anticipation of possibilities.

 
2014 Community Leadership Awards Event PDF Print E-mail

Gaston Together’s Community Leadership Awards Event:

A Tremendous Success!


cla2014recipientThe 2014 Community Leadership Awards Event was an evening to celebrate outstanding Community Leadership that we enjoy today as well as leaders of the future!  Gaston Together, in its seventeenth year of service to Gaston County, honored Holy Angels, Inc. as the winner of the 2014 Community Leadership AwardAmy Burkett, WTVI - PBS Charlotte, was the event emcee.  Over two hundred guests were in attendance to be a part of the evening.  Event Gold Sponsors were PSNC Energy, Duke Energy and Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund/ Firestone Fibers.

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Holy Angels was recognized as an organization that has made a tremendous impact on the quality of life in Gaston County.  Since 1956, they have offered dependable, round-the-clock care for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities.  They have also been an active and important corporate citizen in Gaston County.  In addition to fulfilling its mission of enhanced compassionate care, Holy Angels continues to support our community by providing executive staff for active civic leadership roles throughout Gaston County.   They not only strive to meet the needs of their residents but also take responsibility as a corporate citizen to work towards the long-term growth of our community at large which makes Holy Angels a most deserving winner of the 2014 Circle of Caring Award.

Community Leadership Awards Committee Chairman, Mr. Robert Browne, presented Regina Moody, President and CEO, with the “Circle of Caring Award,” a sculpture commissioned by Gaston Together to commemorate this honor.  The sculpture was designed by local artist, Dr. Graham Weathers.

2014essaywinner

The Gaston County Education Foundation once again graciously sponsored the “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest.  Education Foundation Director, Jennie Stultz, presented the check for next year’s contest during the event saying, “The Education Foundation has seen this funding as an investment in our children, the future of our county.” The 2014 winner of the essay contest for third graders was also announced at the event.  Kennette Bess, Woodhill Elementary, was this year’s County-wide winner and was presented with her award by Dr. Benjamin Hinton, Chairman of the Essay Selection Committee.  Honorable mentions were Celia Roche, New Hope Elementary, Lainey Renee Baakko, Belmont Central Elementary and Jake Baysden, Chapel Grove Elementary.  Individual school winners were presented with a Lantern of Knowledge medal for their essays.

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Gaston Youth Connected was also recognized with the Circle of Excellence Award.  Launched in 2010, Gaston Youth Connected is a community-wide initiative to prevent teen pregnancy in Gaston County, bringing with it $5.8M in federal funding.  Under their guidance, Gaston County’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped 28 percent and the historical gap between white and African American teen pregnancies closed, drawing national attention to Gaston County’s success.  These tremendous victories are a reflection of the hard, thoughtful work of Gaston Youth Connected and Gaston County’s shared commitment to the health, safety, and future of its young people, making them a worthy recipient of the 2014 Circle of Excellence Award.

circleofexcellenceGaston Together is a county-wide non-profit organization whose mission is to bring the people and resources of Gaston County together to address our community’s unmet needs.  This work is conducted through the principles and best practices of collaboration, facilitation, promotion and the anticipation of possibilities.  Kerri Massey is serving as the 2014 Board Chair.

 

 

Picture #1: Mr. Robert Brown, Community Leadership Awards Chairman, presenting the “Circle of Caring” Award to Regina Moody, President and CEO, Holy Angels.

Picture #2:  The Gold Event Sponsors with their “Circle of Caring” replica award were (from left), George Ratchford, PSNC Energy, and Tony Powell, Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund/ Firestone Fibers.  Not pictured:  Tim Gause, Duke Energy.

Picture #3:  2014 “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest winner, Kennette Bess, Woodhill Elementary, and Amy Burkett, WTVI PBS Charlotte, event emcee

Picture #4: Gaston County Education Foundation Director, Jennie Stultz, with Dr. Benjamin Hinton, Chairman of the “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest Committee

Picture #5:  Sally Swanson, Gaston Youth Connected, Director, and Robert Browne, Community Leadership Awards Chairman, presenting the Circle of Excellence Award.

 
Gaston Together Facilitates 2014 Commissioners School Session PDF Print E-mail

Gaston Together facilitates

2014 Commissioners School Session

 

On Wednesday, June 25th, Gaston Together hosted a program session for the “Movers and Shakers” group of the 2014 Commissioners School.  Twelve students spent the morning participating in a facilitated mini-community forum meeting which was held at First United Methodist Church in Gastonia. Student participants represented Ashbrook, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Forestview, East Gaston, North Gaston, South Point and Stuart Cramer.  Donna Lockett, Executive Director, provided a brief overview of the work of Gaston Together to begin the program.

 



Pictured right:  2014 Commissioners’ School, “Movers and Shakers” Group 
(left to right): Front Row, Victoria McAllister (South Point), Annie Bradley
(Forestview), Callee Eisenhuth (Forestview), Olivia Devine (South Point)
and Mattie Lee (Stuart Cramer).  Back Row, Will Anderson (North Gaston),
Meredith Poole (East Gaston), Chyna Pollard (Bessemer City),
Jackson 
Wright (North Gaston), Bradley Parrish (Stuart Cramer) and Murphy
Moss (Cherryville).
 



Dwayne Burks, with support from Gaston Together staff members Wendy Callahan and Darcel
Walker, led the students in focus group work discussing:  1) What’s good about Gaston County,
2) Challenges facing Gaston County, and 3) What should be changed in Gaston County. The
three groups presented skits to portray their individual focus group results.  The focus group with
the best report-out presentation won a basket of snacks to take back to the dorm!  The winning group presented a skit on “Changes needed in Gaston County.”  The group’s theme showcased Gaston County residents’ need to change towards building individual healthy lifestyles.  These changes will cut the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.  The winning team members were Meredith Poole, East Gaston, Jackson Wright, North Gaston , Victoria McAllister, South Point and Mattie Lee, Stuart Cramer. 


 



Pictured left:  Winners of the Community Forum presentations (left to right): Mattie Lee (Stuart Cramer), Jackson Wright (North Gaston), Meredith Poole (East Gaston), and Victoria McAllister (Stuart Cramer).

 

 
Gaston Together's Community Leadership Awards Event, A Tremendous Success! PDF Print E-mail

Gaston Together’s Community Leadership Awards Event, A Tremendous Success!

The 2013 Community Leadership Awards Event was an evening to celebrate outstanding Community Leadership we enjoy today as well as leaders of the future!  Gaston Together, in its sixteenth year of service to Gaston County, honored The Carrie E. and Lena V. Glenn Foundation as the winner of the 2013 Community Leadership Award. Maureen O’Boyle, WBTV News, was the event emcee.  Over two hundred guests were in attendance to be a part of the evening.  Event sponsors were PSNC Energy, BB&T, Duke Energy and Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund/ Firestone Fibers.

 

The Glenn Foundation was recognized for their forty years of benevolence providing almost $6.6 million in funding to support 722 programs across Gaston County.  According to Community Leadership Awards Committee Chairman, Terry Stroupe, “They have responded annually to community needs and have touched citizens of all ages and from all works of life.  They have cared for the most vulnerable while promoting sustainability, growth and civic pride which makes them a deserving winner of the 2013 Community Leadership Award.” Mr. Stroupe presented Barbara Voorhees, Glenn Foundation Executive Director, and Julie Shovelin, Chair of the Board of Trustees, with the “Circle of Caring Award,” a sculpture commissioned by Gaston Together to commemorate this honor.  The sculpture was designed by local artist, Dr. Graham Weathers.

 

The Gaston County Education Foundation once again graciously sponsored the “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest.  Education Foundation Director, Jennie Stultz, presented the check for next year’s contest during the event.  The 2013 winner of the essay contest for third graders was also announced at the event.  Patrick Lamp, McAdenville Elementary, was this year’s County-wide winner and was presented with his award by Curtis Rosselle, Chairman of the Essay Selection Committee.  Also assisting with this year’s selection and presentation was Hanna Newcombe, the 2005 County-wide winner, now a Junior at Gaston Day School.  Honorable mentions were Leydi Guardado, Woodhill Elementary and Emme Lewandowski, Belmont Central Elementary.  Individual school winners were presented with a Lantern of Knowledge medal for their essays.

 

 

Gaston Together is a county-wide non-profit organization whose mission is to bring the people and resources of Gaston County together to address our community’s unmet needs.  This work is conducted through the principles and best practices of collaboration, facilitation, promotion and the anticipation of possibilities.  Don Harrison, Alliance Bank and Trust, is serving as the 2012 - 2013 Board Chair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Glenn Foundation wins 2013 Gaston Together Community Leadership Award PDF Print E-mail

The Carrie E. and Lena V. Glenn Foundation has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Community Leadership Award presented annually by Gaston Together.

"Gaston Together is proud to honor the Glenn Foundation for their long-standing commitment to Gaston County," said Terry Stroupe, selection committee chairman.  "Since 1972, they have awarded 761 grants of almost $6.6 million.  The Glenn Foundation has established a tradition of using grant funds, 'where needed most to do the most good' as their founders instructed.  Through grant funding, they have been at the forefront of positive change and have always had a heart for the needs of the people in Gaston County."

The award will be presented at 6 p.m. on March 26th at the Gaston Country Club.  WBTV news anchor Maureen O'Boyle will emcee the event.  2013 Gold Event Sponsors are Duke Energy, BB&T, PSNC Energy and Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund.

The Community Leadership Award is presented annually to an organization whose work has made a significant impact on improving the quality of life in Gaston County.  It recognizes the ideals reflected in Gaston Together's mission of collaboration and creative problem-solving.  Some past winners include Operation Playground, Gaston College, the Mounty Holly Community Development Foundation, Gaston Family Health Services and Hope 4 Gaston.  Last year's winner was Habitat for Humanity.

Each year, the winner of the Community Leadership Award receives a sculpture commissioned by Gaston Together.  This sculpture is the "Circle of Caring" an original piece of artwork designed by renowned artist Dr. Graham Weathers.

Gaston Together also will recognize the finalists of its third grade, "Proudest Kid in Gaston County" Essay Contest as well as announce the 2013 county wide winner.

This contest is open to all third graders in the county in both public and private schools and is sponsored by the Gaston County Education Foundation.

The essays were written by third graders after their "Pride in Gaston" Traveling Tour field trip, which is taken in the fall of the school year.

This year's tour included visits to Holy Angels in Belmont, Lineberger Park in Gastonia for a program by the CaroMont Wellness Department and Gaston College in Dallas.

The field trip was developed by Gaston Together as a community pride building program for young students.  It was designed in partnership with Gaston County Schools to coincide with the third grade study of the community.

The corporate sponsors of the tour were Walmart and CaroMonth Health.  Programn Partners were Barrett Business Services, Inc., Tindol Ford-Lincoln-Subaru, PSNC Energy and Charlotte Paint Company, Inc.  The event is open to the public.  For ticket information on the event, call Christie Williams, 704-867-9869, ext. 109.