Local News

ECU Grant To Help Church Group Revitalize Rocky Mount Neighborhoods

Posted December 9, 2002 5:19 a.m. EST

— East Carolina is known for painting it purple. But now, the school is painting Rocky Mount green, thanks to thousands of dollars in grants. The money will help a local church group breathe new life into some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Ella Coley could be seen as a Rocky Mount success story. After taking a money management class from a local church group, she is a homeowner for the first time.

"I learned a lot of stuff because really I didn't know nothing about buying a house, so I decided to take the class, so I could learn more about it," she said.

The group is called ATOM -- "A Total Outreach Ministry" that was started by Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. ATOM was founded after Hurricane Floyd. So far, it has helped an estimated 15,000 people.

"Ultimately, the spiritual, the physical, the psychological -- it is tied in and if we're going to deal with the whole man, we must do this," said Dr. Thomas Walker of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

East Carolina University will help fund the program. It is part of the school's philosophy to make an impact in eastern communities.

"They are the ones who have a better perception of what the needs are in their neighborhood than anyone else can possibly have. You'll talk to your minister. You won't necessarily talk to the policeman on the corner," said Dr. Thomas Feldbush of East Carolina University.

Among other things, the money will help ATOM continue to refurbish old homes. Since this phase of the ministry began, ATOM has transformed six old, rundown homes into new houses for Rocky Mount families. Another eight homes are scheduled to be completed next year.

The grant will also be designated toward Hispanic and elderly people in Rocky Mount.