Legal Aid of North Carolina – providing free legal services in civil matters to low-income people

(The following is a press release.)

Low-income Medicare recipients in North Carolina can call Legal Aid of North Carolina’s new Benefits Enrollment Center at 1-877-579-7562 (toll-free) for free help enrolling in federal benefits programs that provide financial help with health care, prescription drugs, home energy bills and food costs.

“Many Medicare recipients in North Carolina are eligible for additional federal benefits and don’t even know it,” said Angeleigh Dorsey, director of Legal Aid’s Senior Law Project, which operates the Benefits Enrollment Center.

“If you’re on Medicare and need a little extra money for life’s necessities, call us today. We can help you figure out what programs you’re eligible for and guide you through the application process,” she said. “The best part is, we’re a nonprofit so all our help is completely free!”

To be considered low-income, a person must live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line, defined as earning about $18,000 a year or less for one person, $24,000 a year or less for two people, and $30,000 a year or less for four people.

The Benefits Enrollment Center staff determines eligibility by looking at a person’s income, assets, rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, cost of health insurance premiums and other expenses.

“If you’re worried about eligibility,” Dorsey said, “don’t be. Just give us a call and we’ll work with you to figure it out.”

Legal Aid’s Benefits Enrollment Center can enroll eligible North Carolinians in five federal programs:

  • Medicare Savings Program. Waives the $104.90 monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.
  • Medicare Part D Extra Help program. Provides full or partial subsidies and copay assistance for recipients of Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Provides nutrition assistance to low-income individual and families.
  • Medicaid. Some low-income Medicare recipients may also qualify for Medicaid, which can decrease their out-of-pocket expenses for health care.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Provides financial assistance with home energy costs.

Legal Aid’s Benefits Enrollment Center launched in June with a grant from the National Council on Aging. The goal of the BEC is to enroll 1,100 seniors in benefits programs by May 2016. The BEC can help people across the state but is targeting outreach to nine counties in the west and southeast: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Duplin, Gaston, Richmond, Robeson.

“We weighed a number of factors when selecting these counties,” Dorsey said. “Number of low-income seniors who aren’t enrolled in these benefits programs, percentage of people of color, proximity to Legal Aid field offices, etc. We also have good relationships with stakeholders in these counties.”

In addition to running the toll-free helpline, Legal Aid staff working on the Benefits Enrollment Center hold enrollment and information events at senior centers, and providers of home meal delivery to reach those who are homebound.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Our Senior Law Project provides free civil legal help to North Carolinians age 60 or older. To learn more, visit or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

News 11/18/15

VGCC Vanguards 2-2 to start basketball season

The Vance-Granville Community College Vanguards men’s basketball team won their first two games of the 2015-16 season before dropping the next two to nationally-ranked opponents.

VGCC kicked off the regular season with a 67-57 victory over conference rival Wake Tech Community College on Nov. 6 on the Vanguards’ home court, Aycock Recreation Center in Henderson. Sophomore Raekwon Hall led VGCC in scoring, with 25 points, while also contributing 3 assists and 4 rebounds. Freshman Chris Pernell of Raleigh put up 12 points. Another freshman, Donal Gooch of Raleigh, was the top rebounder, with 10. His fellow freshman, Antonio Adams of Oxford, was not far behind with 9.

Two days later, VGCC won on the road, dominating the JV squad at the University of Mount Olive, 101-57. Seven Vanguards scored in double figures, led by sophomore Alcyone Moore of Charlotte with 17 and freshman Aaron Robinson of Graham with 15. Moore was also the team’s top rebounder (13). Ty’Quon Reid, a freshman from Durham, led the team in assists (11) while also contributing 13 points and 5 rebounds.

The Vanguards’ first loss came at home when they hosted the Bobcats from Bryant & Stratton College of Virginia on Nov. 10. The Color Guard from J.F. Webb High School in Oxford started off the game with a salute to veterans during the playing of the National Anthem. VGCC kept it close during much of the first half, but after the break, BSC pulled away to win 97-55. The Bobcats, who, like VGCC and Wake Tech compete in Region X of NJCAA Division II, were ranked 14th in the nation at the time. Moore again was the leader in scoring, with 14 points, while Reid added 11 points. Adams put up 5 rebounds to lead in that category.

On Nov. 14, VGCC lost at home to the Storm from Davidson County Community College by a score of 107-90. Davidson County CC was ranked seventh in the nation for Division III. Reid led his teammates in scoring with 34 points. Hall added 23 points of his own. Gooch had the most rebounds (12).

Upcoming VGCC home games are set for Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m., versus Patrick Henry Community College, and Friday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m., versus Virginia University of Lynchburg. Both are at Aycock Recreation Center in Henderson, and admission is free.

Vance County Schools 11/16/15

Farm-City Week part 2 of 3

Vance County has declared the third week in November each year as Farm-City Week. During that time, local residents are encouraged to reflect upon the connections and interdependence between the people and businesses in our towns, and the farms that surround them. This great nation was built on agriculture, but the towns and cities provide the markets and support businesses that make farming possible.


By Byron Currin, Vance County Soil and Water Conservation District

What’s the difference between dirt and soil?  The simple answer, dirt is dead and soil is alive! Soil is comprised of air, water, decayed plant residue, organic matter (living and dead organisms), and mineral matter (sand, silt, clay).  Healthy functioning soil needs to be able to sustain and nourish plants, soil microbes, and beneficial insects.  Healthy soils are porous, allowing air and water to move freely through them, and are often home to earthworms.

A balance between the chemical and physical components of a soil community is important.  Chemically; monitoring the pH, not over applying nutrients, and paying close attention to the nutrients you apply is important. Physically; compaction and drainage problems can also be issues.  A lack of pore space is often a result of compaction, which slows the proper movement of air and water.  Mechanical influences, such as wheel traffic, usually have a greater influence on compaction than natural causes would, and sometimes the use of deep tillage on an annual basis can be more detrimental than beneficial.

Proper drainage prevents soil from becoming anaerobic or waterlogged, prevents microorganisms from going to sleep, and helps eliminate disease and nutrient deficiencies from showing up in crops.  We can improve soil health by disturbing the soil as little as possible, growing different species of plants through rotations and a diverse mixture of cover crops, planting cover crops around our harvest to keep living roots growing in the soil for as much of the year as possible, and keeping the soil surface covered with residue year round.

Well managed, multi-species cover crops improve soil biology, increase soil life, increase organic matter, improve soil structure and fertility, increase water infiltration and water holding capacity, increase production, decrease cost, and increase profits.  Growing more plants in a rotation increases biodiversity, and diversity above ground improves diversity below ground.  Are we just growing crops or are we focusing on growing a soil biological community around the plant?

VGCC Phi Beta Lambda chapter installs new leaders

Vance-Granville Community College’s Chi Beta Chi chapter of Phi Beta Lambda, the business student organization, recently elected officers for the 2015-2016 year. New officers were installed and members were inducted at a ceremony on Nov. 5 on VGCC’s Main Campus.

The officers include president Angelica Bridges of Oxford, vice president Ambrianna Winston of Oxford, secretary Ashley Allen of Henderson, treasurer Tiffany Barnes of Henderson, and historian Shekinah Yancey of Oxford. Bridges and Yancey are students in the Business Administration program, while Winston, Allen and Barnes are majoring in Office Administration.

VGCC alumna Shelonda Finch of Oxford, a former Chi Beta Chi chapter president, was the special guest at the ceremony and performed the formal installation of officers and induction of members. Finch continues to be a “professional division” member of the chapter, as are other alumni as well as college faculty and staff members.

The chapter advisor is Business Administration instructor Derrick Cameron. In his closing remarks at the ceremony, Cameron addressed the newly installed officers, saying: “Going forward, think of yourselves as leaders, or ‘Vanguards.’ You have a great PBL tradition to emulate. Since being reactivated in 2008, this chapter has succeeded in receiving several state and national accolades, representing students and VGCC well.”

Phi Beta Lambda is the national organization for college students who are preparing for a variety of careers in business. The Greek letters stand for the English words “Future Business Leaders,” and PBL is affiliated with the Future Business Leaders of America, an organization for high school students. FBLA/PBL seeks to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. PBL members have opportunities to attend conferences and participate in a number of competitions. For more information, call Derrick Cameron at (252) 738-3447.

News 11/17/15

VGCC registers 350 potential lifesavers

A recent Vance-Granville Community College service project added some 350 people to the registry of potential bone marrow donors. In partnership with the Project Life Movement and the “Save the Fox” campaign, the college held events on each of its four campuses during the week of Oct. 26-29.

Students, faculty, staff and community members signed up and swabbed their cheeks to provide DNA samples at these events. The painless registration process took only a few minutes, but could save a life if a participant turns out to be a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant. Such treatments are the only hope for many people diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other blood cancers and diseases. Around 60 percent of those in need of a donation currently cannot find a donor match, according to Project Life, a national movement that started with students at Davidson College and has spread to more than 25 other schools and has registered more than 13,000 donors.

The “Save the Fox” campaign is named after North Carolina Superior Court Judge Carl Fox of Orange County. Judge Fox was diagnosed with blood cancer in April and has searched for a suitable bone marrow donor.

At a kickoff event on Oct. 26 at VGCC’s Main Campus in Vance County, Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the college president, welcomed participants and commended the students, faculty and staff who contributed their time and energy to the project. “I love it when we take these opportunities to integrate service with learning and to give back to the community,” Dr. Williams said. “Like the students at Davidson College who started Project Life, our students are leaders of the future and can make a difference.” She particularly thanked the students in VGCC Health Sciences programs who took the lead in the registration drive. The very first student to register as a potential donor was Kala Williams of Henderson, a Pharmacy Technology major.

Also speaking at the kickoff was Project Life executive director David Lindsay, who received a successful bone marrow donation and helped found the organization with his fellow students at Davidson College. He thanked all of the participants in the VGCC registration drive. “This will create more chances that a patient like Judge Fox or a patient like me 25 years ago will have a second chance at a miracle,” Lindsay said. “That’s what the drive is all about: creating the possibility for miracles. Potentially everyone in this room is a match for someone you don’t even know.”

He noted that the decision to register as a potential donor, particularly for a young person, would have an impact for years to come. “Students who are 20 will be on the registry for 40 years,” Lindsay said. “Think about what it would feel like to get a call, find out you’re a match, and save someone’s life. I’m glad that Vance-Granville is now part of the Project Life movement, and I hope it becomes an annual event because the potential is immense.”

Attendees then heard remarks from VGCC Financial Aid Assistant Glynnis Wilson, who actually saved a life as a bone marrow donor. She was on the registry for more than eight years until 2006 when the National Marrow Donor Program called, informing her that she was a match. “People ask me if it hurt when I donated bone marrow,” Wilson said. “I always say that whatever I felt was nothing compared to what my recipient had endured. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

VGCC Radiography student and Save the Fox student leader Nick Kemp of Franklinton thanked all of the volunteers who made the drive a success. “What we are really working for is the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, hopefully multiple people’s lives,” Kemp said. “Everyone who registers is a potential lifesaver, maybe not for Judge Fox but perhaps for one of the hundreds of thousands of other people who are looking for a match.” He said that those who registered could look forward to a day “when your phone rings and you get the opportunity to help a fellow human being in need. I don’t know about any of you, but I hope my phone rings sooner rather than later.”

VGCC academic and career coach Seletha Pherribo, who helped spearhead the project, said that Save the Fox had helped unite the college and the community. After the first day at Main Campus, events were held at the Franklin County Campus on Oct. 27, the South Campus in Granville County on Oct. 28 and the Warren County Campus on Oct. 29. Pherribo thanked Project Life for its support. Project Life works with the Delete Blood Cancer organization to process the new potential donors. For more information on becoming a donor, visit or

News 11/16/15

News 11/13/15