Community Leadership Award Honoree
Gaston Outside Campaign
Circle of Excellence Honoree
HealthNet Gaston
Gaston Clergy & Citizens
Coalition/Law Enforcement Breakfast
2019
Civic Engagement
Leadership Graduates
Proudest Kid in Gaston County Essay Winner
Madeleine Jo Hendrix, Sadler Elementary
Proudest Kid in Gaston County
Individual School Winners

Proudest Kid in Gaston County Essay Honorable Mentions Hannah Colvard, Kiser Elementary
Kinley Stiles, New Hope Elementary.
Civic Engagement Leadership
Community Leaders Roundtable
Civic Engagement Leadership Worksession
Warlick Family YMCA
Healthy Gaston Achievement Celebration!
Healthy Gaston Volunteers
Healthy Gaston Volunteers
Gaston Together Board Members
Community Foundation Grant Recipients
Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition
Law Enforcement Covenant Renewal
Healthy Gaston Honorees
2020 MLK Unity Award Honorees
Healthy Gaston VIP Award
Gaston County Commission
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About Us

Steven Long
2020 Gaston Together Chairman

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Now that I have been involved with Gaston Together for several years, I have come to think this organization might be the best kept secret in Gaston County. There are so many initiatives where Gaston Together is the organization behind them or is somehow involved as a partner or lead group. Here are just a few. The Gaston Community Healthcare Commission, the Gaston Clergy and Citizens Coalition, the GC3 MLK Unity Awards, Civic Engagement Leadership program, Healthy Gaston, Pride in Gaston Traveling Tour, Community Leadership Award, Proudest Kid in Gaston County Essay Contest, and the Gaston Controlled Substance Coalition just to name a few. Believe it or not, there are others. We have also been involved with the Gaston 2020 long term visioning and will be involved with the coming update to this. Before coming onto the Board a few years ago, I just had no idea. Gaston Together is quite the dynamic organization with a terrific executive director in Donna Lockett and a very active and engaged Board of Directors.

The theme we adopted within the last few years is Bringing Gaston Together for community, health, leadership and education. I feel this really sums up what we are trying to accomplish here at Gaston Together. Ultimately, if those four areas of our community can be improved, we will be on a path to improving the lives of most, if not all, of the citizens of Gaston County. One of my favorite initiatives is the Civic Engagement Leadership program. This was created due to a need to get more of our citizens involved in the long term direction of our County. Civic Leadership is an extremely important part of the long term growth and success of any community. If communities are not careful, there can be a period of time where complacency with the status quo can take over. This can be caused by different factors, but one is not getting a better cross section of the community involved with the leadership within the community. This leadership includes serving on boards of directors, getting involved in public office, taking leadership roles in local businesses and just taking a general interest in what is happening locally. The purpose of the Civic Engagement Leadership is to directly combat this phenomenon.

Gaston Together is a great organization striving to improve our Community. I’m fortunate to be a part of it. Join us in making Gaston County a better place for all of us.

 

OFFICERS & COUNCIL

Steven Long
Chair

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Jason Austell
Vice Chair

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David Forgarty
Past Chair

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Ken Smith
Sec/Treasurer

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Dr. Ben Hinton
GC3 Rep

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Tad Hixson
Leadership Team

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STAFF

Donna Lockett
Executive Director

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Amy Boyd
Program Manager

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Mailing Address

Gaston Together
PO Box 817
Gastonia, NC 28053
704-867-9869

Location

Gaston Together
PO Box 817
Gastonia, NC 28053
704-867-9869

Gaston Together Council Member
Rev. Dr. Richard Boyce, Union Theological Seminary
Dr. Jeff Booker, Gaston County Schools
Mr. Robert Browne, Beam Construction, Inc.
Rev. David Christy, First United Methodist Church-Gastonia
Mr. Steve D’Avria, Gaston Regional Chamber
Todd David, MD, CaoMont Health
Mr. Brad Drury, Pinnix, Inc.
Rev. Dr. Rodney Freeman, Mt. Zion Restoration Church
Captain Eric Johnson, Gaston County Police
Ms. Amia Massey, Gaston County Government
Ms. Kim Miller, Pharr Yarns, Inc.
Dr. Jennifer Nichols, Gaston College
Mr. Charlie Pearson, Pearson Properties
Mr. Michael Peoples, City of Gastonia
Mr. Alex Poole, Firestone Fibers & Textiles
Mr. William Sain, Mullen, Holland& Cooper, P.A.
Mr. Scott Swindler, Dominion Energy
Ms. Mary Catherine Walker, Mann+Hummel

Gaston Together Staff
Ms. Donna Lockett, Executive Director
Ms. Amy Boyd, Program Manager

 


Gaston Together History

Formed as an outgrowth of the Gaston Chamber Quality Council – Incorporated in1997

1998 - GT began operations as a 501 © 3 tax exempt organization

  • Initial Purpose: promote economic prosperity of Gaston County thru facilitation and collaboration

  • Initial GT Council Members selected from individuals throughout Gaston County in an effort to truly make GT representative on a county-wide level

  • Original Council received facilitation training on the week-ends.

  • First Executive Director, Pam Youngblood, hired in late 1998 and GT offices located at Gaston College

  • Gaston County provided initial financial support

During 1999, numerous companies contributed to GT‘s programs. Funds were used to attract several national speakers to challenge Gaston County leaders to look into the future. Speakers included Wally “Famous” Amos (cookies), Rudy Rudiger (Notre Dame), Anthony Compolla, and Art Linkletter (in 2001).

  • Also in 1999, a non-denominational Ministers Group, Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition (GC3), consisting of 20 Gaston County white and African American ministers, was formed to enhance race relations and to build community relations. The Martin Luther King bridge memorial and plaza were results of planning by this group. Since 2004, the GC3 has recognized local citizens with the MLK Unity Award. In 2009, the GC3 began the Breakfast of Champions program with middle schools in an effort to connect ministers in a mentor setting with at-risk middle school students.

  • Basic Facilitation Training of Community Members began in 1999 and continues until today. A Level II Facilitation Training, “Continuous Process Improvement” – a quality control model, is held periodically with professional trainers

  • Sherry Shaw selected as Executive Director in 1999.

GT began the Community Leadership Awards in 2000 to encourage organizational leadership to enhance Gaston County. Operation Playground was first winner followed by City of Gastonia All America City delegation. Others include: Gaston County Schools and their community partners, Connect Gaston, Sister of Mercy, Run for the Money Campaign Committee, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Junior League’s Woodhill Project, the Mt. Holly Community Development Foundation, Gaston Family Health Services, Alliance for Children & Youth, Gaston College, Hope 4 Gaston, Habitat for Humanity and the Carrie E. and Lena V. Glenn Foundation. The 2016 winner was the Gaston County Education Foundation.

  • Also recognized at the Community Leadership Awards is the Proudest Kid in Gaston County essay contest winner, a companion program to the third grade Pride in Gaston Traveling Tour field trip. The “Proudest Kid” county-wide winner is introduced to the NC General Assembly each spring.

  • GT facilitated formation of Greater Gaston Development Corporation that led to the creation of the Economic Development Division of the Chamber which later became the Greater Gaston Development Corp.

  • The “Promote Gaston” campaign, an image building campaign for Gaston County, began in mid-2000 and Donna Lockett selected as Program Coordinator. It included:

  • Pride in Gaston Traveling Tour

  • Proudest Kid in Gaston County Essay Contest

  • Photo Contest

  • Gaston Gazette insert featuring all 14 municipalities,

  • Electronic Town Hall Meeting, among other programs

  • GT sponsored Electronic Town Hall Meeting (with live TV coverage) at Gaston College in the fall of 2000. It was moderated by Dr. William Friday with panelists including Senator David Hoyle, former Senator Helen Marvin, Superintendent Ed Sadler, Glenn Foundation Director Barbara Voorhees and a Gaston County student. Panelists discussed images of Gaston County of the past and desires for the future. The Community Foundation was major contributor.

Gaston Community Healthcare Commission formed an alliance with GT in 2002 under the leadership of Wayne Shovelin, 2001 GT Chairman. CaroMont Health originally provided funding for administrative support under a three year renewable contract/grant.

2003 Donna Lockett selected Executive Director

  • Also in 2003, GT was selected as the facilitating organization for Gaston 2012 Economic Development Process, which is the outgrowth of Gaston County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS.) CEDS was funded through a $240,000 grant secured by US Representative Sue Myrick.

  • GT formed a strategic alliance with the Gaston Chamber in 2003 for implementation of Gaston 2012 and moved offices to the Chamber building

In 2008, GT, through the work of the Gaston 2012 Education/Workforce Development Action Team, launched Gaston Career Climb a community workforce development collaborative. The goal is to develop a nationally certified, skilled workforce for Gaston County. This team became the Workforce Solutions Action Team and will bring in The Edge Factor to inspire students & their parents to consider careers in manufacturing technology.

  • During 2008, Gaston Together served as the lead organization for the Carolina Thread Trail (CTT) mapping process pilot project in Gaston County. The adoption of the CTT Gaston County plan occurred in 2009. The Greenways Team continues as a part of Gaston Vision 2020.

  • Also in 2008, the Entrepreneurial Action Team created and implemented the Student Contest for Business Ideas. Through sponsorships, awarded over $10,000 in scholarships over a 4-year period.

In 2009, GT began a process to extend the Gaston 2012 strategy to the year 2020 which included transitioning the work of three of the Gaston 2012 Action Teams to the Gaston Regional Chamber for administrative work: Transportation/Infrastructure, Entrepreneurial Development and Education/ Workforce Development.

  • Also in 2009, GT was asked by the Commission on the Family (now Family Advisory Board,) the county government’s prevention based funding, to develop Keeping Families Intact (KFI) to connect families in need with available community resources. Seed funding was provided. Over the next four years, a program was developed which included Life Skills Sessions and case-management which provided a 5.4 return on investment for the seed funding through outcome measures. The program was transitioned to the YMCA where it is now known as Resource Connection.

GT began a new strategic planning process in the summer of 2010 which resulted in Gaston Vision 2020. During 2011, Community Stakeholders were identified and the UNCC Urban Institute was engaged to facilitate four Stakeholder Goal Setting Sessions. Three priorities were determined around the focus areas of Education (Quality & Attainment), Infrastructure and Quality of Life/Community Vitality.

During 2012, GV2020 Action Teams (Infrastructure, Education, and Community Vitality) engaged community members to develop strategic goals around identified focus areas. Contracted with UNCC Urban Institute to create Gaston County portal for Urban Institute Regional Indicators Website. Engaged Gaston College, United Way and Gaston Family Health Services as website community investment partners.

In 2013, Gaston Vision 2020 began a partnership with the Chamber’s Building Blocks program for county strategic planning. As a result of this process, GT was asked to assume responsibility for new Leadership Programs under the Gaston One concept.

  • GT received funding from Community Foundation 2014-2016 to maintain updated research on Regional Indicator Website

In 2014, Agreement with Greater Gaston Development Corp.

  • During 2014, GCHC launched Healthy Gaston to create a culture of wellness in businesses, churches, and schools.

In 2015:

  • Z. Smith Reynolds funded the Development of Leadership Institute and later that year, three other local foundations provided development funding.

  • GC3 began working on a covenant with law enforcement

  • GC3 also held their first two-day, out of county retreat with 23 participants

  • GCHC funding moved from CaroMont as sole funder to four primary funding partners: GFHS, CaroMont, and Partners Behavioral Health Management

2016 Outcomes:

  • GC3 signed a Covenant with Gaston County Law Enforcement in March

& began implementation

    • GCHC established two Policy & Advocacy Teams:

      • Mental Health & Substance Abuse

      • Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition (84 members)

      • Walkability/Obesity Team which later merged with the Gaston Vision

2020 Greenways Team

    • Healthy Gaston finished the year with 4 first ever Gold Level, 10 Silver Level and 3 Bronze Level organizations. Twenty-seven total organizations

  • Civic Engagement Leadership initiative kicked-off in November

  • This year GT will celebrate its 20th anniversary of tackling Big Community Challenges through collaborative community leadership.

2017 Outcomes:

  • Civic Engagement Leadership initiative launched in Jan. with 24 participants; 8 sessions (4 full-day and 4 half-day sessions); graduated 21 in Nov. 2017

  • GC3 held Opioid Summit for community in Nov.

  • Healthy Gaston completed successful year with 5 Gold, 14 Silver, 3 Bronze and 10 on their Journey to Wellness

  • First Annual Healthy Gaston VIP Award to Robert Kellogg for his community service in Health Education/Opioid Crisis

  • Walkability/Obesity held Health in All Policies workshop with Pat Zerouvian, Monterey, Ca. Health Dept Facilitated

  • Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition: 1) first Behavioral Health Summit; 2) Developed website, gastoncsc.org, with complete data dashboard of information and activities; 4) established Clergy Opioid Outreach Team & Medicine Tack Back Team; 5) began Community presentations to civic organizations; 6) conducting Opioid education through Facebook, etc.

2018 Highlights:

  • Civic Engagement Leadership began its second Cohort in Aug 2018 after revising the session calendar to Aug - May. Twenty-three enrolled

  • Held first Healthy Gaston Recognition Event on an annual calendar (Nov. 2018) and conducted four workshops combined with the Recognition to make it more of a “celebration of health!”

  • Healthy Gaston celebrated another successful year with 6 Gold, 15 Silver, 3 Bronze and 9 Organizations on their Wellness Journey

  • Second Annual Healthy Gaston VIP Award was given to Mr and Mrs. Nazrul Chowdhury for their work with the Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition Opioid focus

  • Walkability/Obesity Team transitioned to Health in All Policies as a focus and began meetings with municipalities. Met with seven during 2018.

  • Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition: 1) Facilitated the restart of Drug Treatment Court; 2) Held a second Doctor workshop on alternatives to Opioids; 3) Developed Opioid Response Teams; 4) Began Opioid Prevention & Treatment Champions Program; 5) Trained peer support specialists; 6) Collected over 41 lbs. of medicines at Medicine Take Back events.

  • Hosted over 90 officers and Clergy/Law Enforcement Breakfast.

2019 Highlights:

  • Honored Donyel Barber, Dr. Will Current and Coach Larry Rhodes with the 2019 Gaston Together MLK Unity Awards in January

  • Greater Gaston Development Corp.’s “Gaston Outside” Campaign won the Community Leadership Award; Healthnet Gaston won the “Circle of Excellence” award and Madeline Jo Hendrix was won the “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest at the Annual Community Leadership Awards

  • Twenty participants graduated from the second Civic Engagement Leadership process in June while third Cohort began in Aug 2019

  • Held Healthy Gaston Recognition Event in Nov. combined with three workshops to make it more of a “celebration of health!”

  • Healthy Gaston celebrated another successful year with 10 Gold, 12 Silver, 7 Bronze and 12 Organizations on their Wellness Journey

  • Annual Healthy Gaston VIP Award was given to the Gaston County Commissioners for their county-wide no tobacco products policy

  • Health in All Policies Team continued their work with municipalities (ten to date) and received grant funds to conduct a community education HiAP workshop in 2020

  • Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition: 1) Developed the Faith Fighting Addition initiative; 2) Collected 247 lbs. of prescription drugs through Medicine Tack-Back events; 3) Created the Opioid Prevention & Treatment Champions; 4) Hosted 1270+ community members in opioid awareness programs

  • Hosted over 90 officers and Clergy/Law Enforcement Breakfast

  • Renewed the Clergy-Law Enforcement Covenant in November at the Rotary Pavilion

 

Annual Report

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