The Link of Cullman County is a beacon of hope in the Cullman community. It exists “to build empowering and supportive relationships on the journey toward personal and relational wholeness. We began with a vision to inspire our Cullman County neighbors living in poverty to dream. We want to encourage the homeless, the struggling single mom, the addict and the under-employed that God has more for them.”
“We believe we have two purposes,” said Executive Director Melissa Betts. “The first is to meet our neighbors right where they are and help them make a plan to walk toward their goals. The second is to be a ‘link’ between needs and resources.”
This year, The Link is on track to respond to more than 20,000 requests for assistance.
“There is no way we could possibly serve that many requests on our own,” said Betts. “We have worked to develop a large network of individuals, organizations, churches, groups and agencies that have their own resources and focuses.”
The Link’s four service areas are:
- Neighbor Services: Food, housing, resource referrals, showers, laundry
- Renewal Services: Re-entry therapy, Anger Management & Boundaries course, 12-step meetings
- Family Services: Parenting course, 24/7 Fatherhood course, Nurturing Families Initiative and supervised visitation
- Educational Services: Adult & Child Literacy tutoring, student tutoring, English as a second language, volunteers in public schools and summer camps (Summer Enrichment & Kindergarten Readiness)
“If a neighbor's need does not fall within the realm of our four service areas, we refer that neighbor to someone who can assist them, but we go beyond the referral,” said Betts. “If we refer you to one of our community partners for assistance, we are going to check back in with you or often go with you to that appointment. Our goal is to offer supportive and empowering Christ-like relationships to our neighbors on the journey toward personal and relational wholeness.”
2022 highlights and memorable moments (so far!)
- 5,500 neighbors assisted
- 29,250 calls received (more than 600 per week)
- 25,000-plus volunteer hours
- Offering cycle of housing/rental assistance
- New staff members so we can focus on walk-in needs
- Community meals served in-person
- New weekly volunteers
The Link holds a year-end giving campaign November-December. The 2022 campaign is titled “Legacy.”
“We are focused on the impact made in the hearts of our neighbors,” Betts said. “Did they find strength to take a next step? Were they empowered to make choices that changed things for them? Giving your time, talents, gifts and experiences is what helps make this big impact.
The community can be a part of the campaign in several ways. Volunteering time and talents can mean facilitating a class, bagging in the food pantry, helping serve the Thanksgiving community meal or providing office assistance, for example.
Monetary support or tangible goods are always needed. “We work to ensure money and goods go right back into our community in meaningful ways,” said Betts. And don’t forget experiences. “Each of us has a different shape – things that have shaped us, shaped our outlooks, shaped our hearts. You have something to share that no one else in the world has to offer in the same way. Bring those to the table! Your heart and shape might be the difference maker for someone else.”
Find out more about The Link, its services, how to volunteer or becoming a connected organization at linkingcullman.org.