Gaston Together - About
Gaston County is first county in the Charlotte region to become a data partner with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Several agencies have partnered to fund the collection, analysis and update of data relevant to each group’s mission and interests. The value of these groups coming together includes that different areas of interest will have data tracked to see where in the community, success is seen and improvements can be made. The agencies included in the partnership are Gaston Together, The Community Foundation of Gaston County, United Way of Gaston County, Gaston College and Gaston Family Health Services. Below are highlights of what each organization does and its history.
Gaston Together is an agency focused on creating a community of excellence by bringing people and resources in the county together to address pressing needs through collaboration, facilitation, promotion and the anticipation of possibilities. The agency was created in 1997 to expand upon the work done by the Gaston Chamber Quality County to promote economic prosperity in the county. In more recent years, Gaston Together has led the way in recognizing local organizations that best promote and enhance the county’s economic growth and prosperity throughout the community. In 2000, the agency presented its first Community Leadership award, an event that still occurs each year.
By mid-2000, Gaston Together organized the “Promote Gaston” campaign to raise awareness of the wonderful people and businesses that call Gaston County home. In the fall of 2000 as a component of the “Promote Gaston” campaign, Gaston Together sponsored an Electronic Town Meeting event in which panelists discussed the county’s rich history and desires for future growth. In 2001, another component of the “Promote Gaston” campaign was developed, the “Pride in Gaston” Traveling Tour and “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest for third graders in partnership with Gaston County Schools.
In 2002, the administration of the Gaston Community Healthcare Commission (GCHC) was transferred to Gaston Together. The GCHC’s mission is to develop a workable community-wide agenda to improve the health status of the citizens of Gaston County. In 2003, the organization in formed an alliance with the Gaston Regional Area Chamber that resulted in shared office space. Also during this timeframe, the organization was chosen to facilitate the Gaston 2012 Economic Development Process, the implementation phase of Gaston County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS.) Through the Gaston 2012 Education/Workforce Development Action Team, Gaston Together formed the collaborative that launched Gaston Career Climb, an initiative to create a nationally certified skilled workforce for Gaston County. In January 2010, Gaston Together approved the Gaston 2012 economic development strategy expansion to Gaston 2020. In 2010, Gaston Together celebrates its 13th anniversary of successful operations and community leadership. Currently, Gaston Together has several initiatives underway in support of the goal of creating a county of opportunity that is safe, healthy and educated. They are also working to attract and retain a growing population of skilled twenty to thirty year olds and to effectively communicate the attractive quality of life in Gaston County.
Community Foundation of Gaston County
Since 1978, the Community Foundation of Gaston County has served as a catalyst for charitable good, connecting individuals and companies to philanthropic needs. The leading steward of philanthropic giving in the community, the foundation has a track record of forming partnerships with donors, community leaders and nonprofits. The foundation’s approach is to use these partnerships and connection to citizens to build a stronger community and better future.
The Foundation has provided grants to nonprofits that exceeds $74 million since inception. Some of the major impact grants to the Gaston County Community include Highland School of Technology, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Easements to protect the water supply on Mount Island Lake, an expansion of the Boys and Girls Club, Gaston Together Career Climb, and Habitat for Humanity. The Foundation also serves as the major sponsor for Run for the Money each year, an annual event raising over $14 million for Gaston County nonprofits over the past 12 years. The Community Foundation of Gaston County is excited to sponsor Gaston's presence on the Regional Indicator Website in hope that many organizations and businesses throughout the County will benefit from the data provided.
Gaston College was granted a charter by the State of North Carolina in 1963 and began its first classes in temporary headquarters in September 1964. The college moved to its permanent campus on Highway 321 between Dallas and Gastonia in late 1965 and serves booth Gaston and Lincoln counties, with over 5,000 students enrolled each term in curriculum programs and averages over 16,000 students annually in its Continuing Education programs. Part of the North Carolina Community College System, Gaston College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees.
The college’s vision is to be viewed as the premier post-secondary educational resource in the region, consistently recognized as an exceptional community college and known in the state and nation for successful and innovative programs. Its mission is to be an open-door public community college, located in Gaston and Lincoln counties, that promotes student success and lifelong learning through high caliber, affordable, and comprehensive educational programs and services responding to economic and workforce development needs.
Currently, the college has strategic initiatives that were developed as part of its strategic plan to serve a growing college. Initiatives include: 1) to serve the lifelong learning needs of a diverse population and workforce; 2) to provide seamless and effective student focused services; 3) to expand partnerships; 4) to ensure quality educational practices; 5) to provide the essential resources to support quality educational programs and services; and 6) to enhance communication. To enhance each initiative, the college has several goals to support the success of each.
Gaston Family Health Services
Gaston Family Health Services (GFHS) is a non-profit health clinic, formed by the county health department in 1982 to provide healthcare to the "under-served" of our community. Recognizing that this population has many special needs, the GFHS program has evolved into a much more comprehensive care provider than the typical family medicine practice. In addition to traditional primary care provided by physicians and mid-level providers, GFHS also provides behavioral/mental health counseling, pharmacy services, chronic disease education programs (in diabetes, asthma, and weight loss), nutritional counseling, medication counseling, a medication assistance program, as well as case management programs. GFHS also operates two dental facilities and serves as the employing entity for Gaston County's Parish Nurses.
Today, through its seven medical clinics and three dental facilities, GFHS provides care to more than 30,000 patients per year which accounts for roughly 1 in 11 Gaston County citizens, through more than 100,000 clinical encounters.
United Way of Gaston County
The United Way of Gaston County began in 1953 as the Greater Gastonia United Fund when local businessmen identified the need for a central fundraising and distribution system to meet community needs. The Fund expanded to include additional communities within Gaston County and in 1972, officially became the United Way of Gaston County. United Way currently funds 25 agencies and 65 areas in the priority areas of Education, Income, and Housing.
Within the funding area of health, the community impact goal is to ensure individuals in Gaston County have access to healthcare and resources available to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Within education, the community impact goals in to ensure children and youth in the community are prepared physically, mentally, emotionally and educationally to succeed. Within the area of income, the community impact goal is to make sure every individual in the community has the skills, opportunities and support to achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency to meet his or her basic needs. The agency’s 2011 campaign theme Live United- Keep It In Gaston keeps with the impact goals and mission to unite the community and help care for one another.