Lake Norman & Mooresville

Lincoln County shelter gets upgrades with help from PNG

Piedmont Natural Gas recently helped make upgrades at Lincoln County’s only domestic violence shelter, but further needs persist, officials said.

Amy’s House seeks to “give shelter to those who need it most” and received a $10,000 corporate gift from the natural gas utility over the summer, as well as two new water heaters that were installed by company employees in December.

Rinnai, a manufacturer of energy-efficient, tank-less water heaters, split the cost with Piedmont for the two new water heaters, which will provide more hot water for less cost, officials said.

Amy’s House – named for a domestic violence victim who had no safe place to take her kids – not only provides an alternative to a violent situation, but also offers legal assistance and court advocacy, job and housing referrals and client counseling, among other services.

Since the shelter officially opened in 1995, the residence has mainly housed women and children, said Delane Clark, board president. However, male victims of abuse – who are often removing children from an abusive situation – have also received special accommodations when needed, Smith said.

The five-bedroom residence can house about 20 people at a time, with the average stay lasting around 90 days, Clark said, noting that the lack of affordable housing can often create a “bottleneck,” which requires residents to stay longer.

There were 13 residents staying at the home while the water tanks were being replaced, she said.

The shelter is operated by The Lincoln County Coalition Against Violence. The annual operating budget ranges from $230,000 and $250,000 and depends mostly on state and federal grants, as well as local fundraisers, individual and corporate donations and agencies such as United Way, she said.

While the hope is to start each new fiscal year in July with a fresh pot of money, it’s often October or November before the shelter begins receiving its state and federal funds, Clark said.

Grant money covers employee salaries, but daily operations often require additional and outside funding. Clark said that Piedmont’s gift of $10,000 over the summer helped to cover that need.

This year, Amy’s House had not budgeted for one new water heater, much less two, officials said. One of the heaters was located in a bathroom, the other in a shared laundry room located off the kitchen.

Skip Steele, an adviser to the board of Amy’s House and a Duke Energy employee, shared that need with Piedmont Natural Gas, said Mike Durham, a community relations manager for Piedmont.

In 2004, Piedmont formed a philanthropic foundation, which has dispersed nearly $7 million in its three-state territory of North and South Carolinas and Tennessee since inception, Durham said.

Piedmont also covered the water heater installations at Amy’s House, which took four workers two days to replace both tanks and modify water, gas and electrical work.

Clark said she and the Amy’s Houseboard are so appreciative of Piedmont’s and Rinnai’s efforts, which came at just the right moment.

“There’s never not a need,” she said, adding that the items needed to keep Amy’s House operational range from very large – new flooring, new seating for the kitchen – to smaller, yet almost constant needs, such as baby items, food – especially perishable items – gas cards and others.

The need for clothing and housewares is often met through Amy’s Closet, located on N.C. 16 in Denver. The consignment shop opened about 1 1/2 years ago and is entirely volunteer-staffed, Clark said.

The unexpected revenue stream brought in more than $20,000 for the coalition since it opened, Clark said. “It’s also raised awareness in a different part of the county, which was an outcome we didn’t expect.”