Diakonos, Inc., was organized in Burnsville, NC, September, 1988, with the intention of providing for the basic needs of homeless and needy persons. The founders of the organization agreed that the basic necessities of life include nourishing food, safe shelter, freedom from abuse, and an opportunity to reach for self-reliance.
In 1990, the organization moved to Statesville, NC, to operate a shelter ministry comprised of an emergency, winter, and battered women's shelter located in the most impoverished area of the city. Because of it's primary location at that time, the name Fifth Street Ministries was adopted as the name under which to do business, maintaining the corporate name of ";Diakonos." Located in an 80-year-old church, shelter space was inadequate for the needs of the ministry from the beginning.
In the winter of 1991, Diakonos moved its administrative offices, emergency shelter, and winter shelter to a more spacious environment in on old school house five blocks further south. Blessed with four times the space, the agency began to burgeon. Winter shelter became night shelter and was extended to a year-round program. The ministry took over the city's soup kitchen program in 1991 and expanded it to two community meals per day. The emergency shelter spread out through the classrooms along the wooden hallway of the old school. The old church, occupied only by the battered women's shelter, became "My Sister's House."
In 1993, the Open Door Clinic was started. By 1996, a new building had been constructed through a grant from Kate B. Reynolds and the generosity of community volunteers led by Gerald Grant, Grady Lippard, Wayne Rogers and Tony Waugh. The dental wing was completed in 1998. In the years since 1993, thousands of individuals from Iredell and surrounding communities who were without any form of health insurance have been cared for. In 2008, the Open Door Clinic as it has been known was transferred to a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) operated by Gaston Family Health Services and doing business in our town as Statesville Family Medicine and the Open Door Dentistry. It then took on a different face from a free clinic. We address medical and dental issues for our guests through referral to the FQHC, mental health agencies, and others as appropriate. Our daily nurse clinic provides ongoing monitoring of chronic disease and assessment of acute illnesses. Health education/prevention classes are part of our classes. Not only are the vast majority of those we serve uninsured, their healthcare needs have gone unaddressed for too many years. We are committed to helping those who are without healthcare creatively address their needs in a variety of ways.
2002 was an exciting year, as it marked the completion of a new facility for My Sister's House. In an undisclosed location, this program addresses the needs of those who are victims of family abuse through safe shelter, counseling, court advocacy, etc.
April 26, 2009 was a day of great excitement as we dedicated our new facility that houses the majority of our other programs. What a success for this community, for Fifth Street is made possible through the generosity of those who believe in the work that goes on here. Shelter, food, clothing, access to healthcare, life skills training, and a wide variety of other offerings are available for those wanting to make necessary improvements to their lives.
Given the state of our world today, the needs are great and the solutions are few. However, we keep on, day after day, working together with the community in a variety of avenues, to creatively address these needs and ideally help people move to a more stable place in their lives.
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