LAURINBURG — In the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, the titular figure’s actions are remarkable in that he steps forward to help someone whose plight has been ignored by others.
Since 2011, the Silent Samaritan Society has endeavored to do the same thing for those in Scotland and surrounding counties who struggle with invisible mental and emotional demons.
The group will hold its annual meeting on March 3 in the hope of raising $25,000 for the Scotland Family Counseling Center, a nonprofit organization that provides faith-based counseling services for those coping with depression, anxiety, grief, and substance abuse.
Monies raised will fund counseling for clients who cannot pay for the full cost of services.
“We directly subsidize clients who don’t have insurance or are underinsured, but we subsidize every person that comes in here,” said Charles Wentz, Scotland Family Counseling Center director and counselor . “Our cost to deliver our services is greater than the revenue that we receive.”
The center was founded in 2007 as a one day per week service provided at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church. Since then, it has grown into its own office on Medical Drive, where it serves clients every weekday and is considering adding another member to its staff.
“There’s still an unmet demand — every time we add a counselor, their schedule gets filled up and so we’re now talking about adding a fourth,” said Wentz. “All expectations are that that person will become full within just a matter of months as well.
Between 2011 and 2015, the center increased its counseling hours by 148 percent to provide nearly 2,700 hours of service to a total of 1,200 people last year.
“We were asked a couple of years ago to help with this and we were so impressed with the quality of the counselors at the center and the volunteers who are helping raise money,” said Whit Gibson, who along with his wife Tammie is leading this year’s fundraising effort. “It’s something that we really feel is a ministry — it’s a good cause and the people who provide the services are doing it with the right spirit.”
The former Clerk of Court was not surprised to learn that children and youth, who are referred by pediatricians and school counselors, make up a significant portion of the population served by Scotland Family Counseling Center.
“Working in the court system and working with kids for a good part of my life, I’ve seen the need for people to have someone to talk to when they’re upset, or angry, or depressed and they need help getting control of their emotions and suggestions of behaviors that might help them deal with a difficult situation,” he said.
The Silent Samaritan Society’s 2016 appeal will begin at noon on March 3 at the W. R. Dulin Conference Center on the campus of Scotland Memorial Hospital. Retired District Court Judge William C. McIlwain, III will be the keynote speaker.
The free event is open to all who are interested in learning more about Scotland Family Counseling center and its mission. Lunch will be served and donations will be accepted.
For information or to RSVP, call 910-276-7011. The website for the counseling center is scotlandcounseling.org.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.