Grant funding that helps minority-owned small businesses is helping a behavioral health group Havelock expand its services to some of Craven County’s most vulnerable citizens.
On June 14, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses announced that Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, a Havelock-based psychology and behavioral health practice, was one of 20 businesses to receive a $25 improvement grant. $000 from its 2021 program.
The multi-year initiative was launched in September 2020 by American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and four national black business organizations — the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. and Walker’s Legacy – to support the long-term success of Black-owned small businesses as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Located at 118 Crocker Road across from the main entrance to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness specializes in minority issues, military families, trauma and abusive relationships.
In addition to telehealth services, the practice offers individual and group therapy as well as couple and family therapy. Psychological assessments are also offered for autism and other disorders.
Owner Che Ward, a licensed clinical psychologist, said after moving to the Havelock area with her husband a year and a half ago, she started offering counseling services online from her home.
“When I started looking around, it led me to know that there were very few therapists and only one psychologist here,” Ward said. “So I saw that it was a great place for people to come here and do mental health.”
Ward opened the Crocker Road practice in July 2021 and currently employs a second therapist as well as an assistant, trainee and office staff.
“We’re growing slowly,” Ward said. “The more people in the community know about us, the more clients we get and the more referrals we get.”
Ward said when she arrived in Havelock, she was surprised that so few behavioral health practices were available in the area.
“There are a lot of things that come with living in a small town and also poverty,” she said. “There are a lot of mental health issues that people don’t know or don’t know they can get help for. There’s also a need to serve the military community. Military members usually get help, but families need to know that we are also there for them.
‘We are here’
Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness received an initial $5,000 CBBB grant last year and was later selected for the Enhancement Grant, which is given to businesses that have experienced growth.
Ward said the money from the initial grant allowed his company to buy office and testing supplies, while the new funding will go towards staff training and assessment materials.
“A complete autism assessment kit costs around $5,000, so the money is really needed,” she said.
According to Ward, the CBBB grant has enabled his practice to help offset the costs of services for clients not covered by health insurance.
“Through this fund, we were able to apply sliding scales and subsidized programs so that we didn’t have to charge patients the full price,” Ward said. “What we’re working on right now is trying to get credentials from all the insurance companies because the biggest need is Medicaid and TRICARE.”
The grant money will also be used to open a computer testing center, Ward said.
“We try to provide as many services as possible to the community, because I hear more and more people saying ‘Oh, with the bypass, everyone leaves Havelock.’ But we’re not, we’re here,” Ward commented.
The need for the services offered by Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness has become particularly evident because of COVID-19, Ward said. The pandemic has forced the firm to adopt new technologies to offer its services to clients.
“It increased people’s fear and not just trauma, but all of the discord in families and in homes,” Ward noted. “So that led us to adjust our services to offer telehealth to everyone, which was booming in this community because it wasn’t accepted by most insurance companies.”
Ward said that over the next year she hopes to hire at least one more full-time therapist. She said she hopes her practice will inspire others to provide mental health services in Craven County.
“We need more now. We need more therapies, more therapists, more minority therapists. We hope to have at least one other minority therapist and possibly a male. They are rare in this profession at the moment,” she said.
For more information about Hurt and Healing Behavioral Health and Wellness, visit https://www.hurtandhealingbhw.com/about-5 or call 252-652-6047.
Black business community faces ‘bigger challenges’
As a black business owner, Ward said she encountered obstacles when seeking funding for her business.
“Usually when it comes face to face, I can tell there’s definitely some hesitation or interference or reluctance to even listen, to find out what our intentions are,” she explained. “Registering online can be a bit easier, as there is no associated face.”
Lawrence Bowdish, executive director of the Chamber Foundation, said black-owned businesses have faced specific challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the challenges are bigger in the black business community. Black-owned businesses are more likely to be impacted by changes in expenses due to inflation or labor availability,” Bowdish said. “Many black-owned businesses are concentrated in industries that rely more on foot traffic, which has declined.”
Bowdish noted that a January 2022 survey, the State of the World’s Small Business Report, indicated that 41% of black-owned businesses closed in the first quarter of 2020.
“It’s an astronomical number, a massive disaster in this community,” he said. “It has slowly rebounded since, with new entrepreneurs. And that means there’s a new group of business owners who really need more assistance, support, and resources to get started.
Bowdish said about 50% of CBBB grant recipients saw their business increase within 6 months of receiving their grants, compared to 33% of black-owned businesses overall.
“We see what we’re doing is definitely helping these businesses,” Bowdish said.
For more information on Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant eligibility and application process, visit https://webackblackbusinesses.com/