New center offers support services

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Sandra Harper, left, and Keisha Spivey work on the resource guide Thursday at Ripple Effects.


Staff Writer

Friday, June 14, 2019

Keisha Spivey knows quite well the plight of the less fortunate in the Twin Counties.

And Spivey and a small group of volunteers at a Rocky Mount faith-based nonprofit group are working to help them return to normal lives.

Spivey co-founded the Ripple Effects empowerment center, which opened a couple of months ago in the 900 block of Forest Hill Avenue.

Spivey and her fellow volunteers even have been aiding clients who have been staying in places lacking running water.

“I had a family come in last week that broke my heart,” Spivey said. “They were filthy, with a baby. And they live in abandoned buildings.”

Spivey said she got the family linked to someone who got them a place for the time being.

Ripple Effects is a home-like setting — including showers and laundry services — and is designed to be an entry point for people who have issues.

Those issues can include having suffered from abuse in childhood, dealing with alcohol or drug addiction, dealing with anxiety or depression or dealing with financial crises.

Ripple Effects is designed to link people with such issues to services and provide resource counseling, as well as coaching to help put them on their way to self-sufficiency.

Spivey said the center is being supported financially with the help of donors, partners and sponsors.

“Every service we offer here is free,” she said.

The center also is the scene of Bible studies on Monday evenings and at noontime on Wednesdays.

The center also has four transitional houses — three in Nash County and one in Edgecombe County.

Of the overall number of people seeking assistance from the center, Spivey said, “We’ve had over 300 people through the door.”

Spivey made clear she has a long-term goal.

“I am working with some agencies to acquire some additional homes, but I visualize being able to have a hotel so that we can house multiple families and take them through the intensives — and begin to transition them into home ownership,” she said. “I don’t think it’s enough to just get to a place.”

Spivey, 45, set up Ripple Effects with her husband, Eric, 45, who is the business manager at Church on the Rise. The couple has been married 24 years and are Nash County natives.

The couple returned to the Twin Counties after having lived for a couple of decades in the Triad region.

Keisha Spivey said she and the family became involved with Church on the Rise and that she eventually found herself quite busy as the youth pastor. The church opened up a location in South Rocky Mount.

“One of the things we realized is that, as we were in the South Rocky Mount community, the needs were great and people weren’t coming to the church,” she said.

She said a problem was residents there had a variety of issues but had not been attending houses of worship when they were growing up.

She said she and others set up a “street church,” with the gatherings being at a vacant lot at Arrington Avenue and Blanton Street.

“And as we were getting to know them and their needs and they were getting to know us and who we were, we developed some trust,” she said.

She said she and others learned there was a great need for housing, so an abandoned residence was converted into a transitional house for a family. She said the family next was provided coaching and support.

“And what we realized is there were people coming to us who needed our services but didn’t necessarily need housing,” she said.

What followed were meetings with people at churches and restaurants — and what eventually followed was the creation of Ripple Effects.

Spivey is an Assemblies of God minister and said she is pursuing a doctor in ministry degree from Liberty University.

One of the center’s volunteers is Robin Strickland, 63, of Elm City.

Of the Spiveys, Strickland said, “I think what they’re doing is pretty awesome.

“They have a love for people — and God has evidently laid this on her heart,” Strickland said, adding that Keisha Spivey gave up a full-time job.

Another volunteer is Sandra Harper, 69, of Rocky Mount.

Of the Spiveys, Harper said, “They’re nice as they can be. They’re honest people — and they are of their word.”

Ripple Effects is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and can be reached at 252-200-4885. The center also has a page on Facebook.