SALISBURY — Rowan County had 59 overdose deaths in 2021, almost two dozen more than the 36 who died by overdose a year earlier.
That’s according to numbers kept by the county’s Post-Overdose Response Team, a group created in 2019 to address substance abuse and the opioid epidemic.
Many of those deaths were likely from opioids containing dangerous amounts of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid approved to treat severe pain that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s a trend that troubles Miriam Ramirez, the executive director of the Capstone Recovery Center.
“A lot of people on the black market are putting fentanyl in everything and it’s killing people left and right,” Ramirez said.
Capstone Recovery Center has been actively trying to prevent more overdose deaths by providing substance use and mental health services to women at its 418 W. Innes St. facility. The only residential treatment program of its kind in Rowan County, Capstone Recovery Center offers its services and housing free to all clients.
Ramirez said the center has a 50% success rate, meaning that half of the women who go through its program go on to live “an abundant life of recovery.”
The only way the Capstone Recovery Center has been able to provide its clients with services is because of funding received from the Rowan County United Way, Ramirez said. The center is one of 13 community investment partners supporting 19 health and human service programs that have benefited from Rowan County United Way funding over the last three years.
The United Way has started the pre-qualification period for its Community Impact Competitive Grant Cycle to determine the community partners that will receive funding for the next two years.
The previous baker’s dozen community investment partners were selected after the United Way in 2019 transitioned to a community investment partnership model, which has directed funding to organizations and programs focused on four priority areas: substance abuse, mental health, healthy lifestyle behaviors and basic needs. Those priority areas were determined by a needs assessment conducted in 2018.
Over the last three years, the United Way has directed $1.2 million to substance abuse, $996,000 to mental health, $495,000 to healthy lifestyle behaviors and $572,000 to basic needs.
The United Way planned to fund those programs for just two years, but decided to extend the cycle by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The continuance of (funding) for one more year — because it was originally two years and they brought it in to 2022 — has been such a blessing,” Ramirez said.
The new cycle will be for just two years with a 10% reduction of investment award in the second year.
Pre-qualification started on March 18 and runs through March 31. Only programs that pass pre-qualification checklist will be eligible for funding. The full grant application runs from May 2 to May 31.
United Way Executive Director Jenny Lee said the Community Impact Committee is preparing for a higher applicant volume for this funding cycle. The agency does not have a cap on the number of applicants that will receive funding, but will “strive to fully fund programs that directly meet the needs of our four funding priorities.” The United Way employs an internal funding formula based on the outcome of its annual fundraising campaign to determine how much money is available.
The Rowan County United Way raised $1.3 million in its latest campaign and has not yet unveiled a goal for its next campaign, which will start in the fall.
“As a board and staff, we hope to remain one of the community’s top local funders to support sustainable and effective programs,” Lee said.
To be eligible for grant funding, an organization must meet these requirements:
• Be a 501(c)3 organization or use a 501(c)(3) as a fiscal agent.
• Provide federal tax identification documentation.
• Have a clearly stated human services mission that addresses at least one of these strategic priorities: substance use, mental health, healthy lifestyle behaviors and basic needs.
• Provide services to people living in Rowan County and have the ability to access/provide all data, including specific program budgets by county.
• Be incorporated.
• Maintain current registration as a charitable organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State or have a current registration exemption from the state.
• Have overhead costs that do not exceed 30% of total organizational revenue, as validated by the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990 (must provide fundraising and administrative percentage).
• Provide a copy of most recent 990 (Make sure the document uploaded is a copy of the actual form submitted, including signature and date at bottom).
• Due to the 10% decrease in year two of funding, a plan needs to be provided detailing how program sustainability will be achieved by the end of the funding cycle.
For questions about the grant cycle, call the Rowan County United Way at 704-633-1802. More information can be found online at rowanunitedway.org.