New Wilson County Community Help Center Executive Director Karen Rudzinski brings a robust track record of experience and outreach to the table.
Rudzinski knows that sharing a zip code doesn’t mean everyone’s challenges will be the same. Yet, she also understands that with a little help from fellow community members, people are more likely to overcome their obstacles. “We want to make sure we are fully funded and fully accessible to everyone,” she said.
The Mount Juilet resident has spent 25 years serving her community in varying capacities. She served as the executive director for Charis Health Center. Charis specializes in assisting those without medical insurance.
Rudzinski said the role was instrumental in preparing her to lead help center. “I made numerous contacts that help me identify community members in need, and better understand the problems they’re facing.”
She also worked at the Mount Juliet Chamber of Commerce. Through this job, she met church leaders and community organizers from Wilson County. She said she plans to use these connections to spread the word about what the help center offers.
“Churches are an integral part of identifying those who need our help. They don’t always have the resources to help but they always know someone in need, so they can send them to us,” Rudzinski said.
Rudzinski recently went to Wilson County’s Institute of Counselor Development. It’s a christian-based counselor program which according to their website, “Provides a deep spiritual insight and understanding into human behavior and how to relate to others.” She said the training will serve her as she navigates local communities of faith.
Facing Rudzinski and the help center is a volunteer shortage. “We’re down to less than half of the volunteers we had a year ago,” she said. Rudzinski attributes this shortage to COVID-19 and worries it could be a while before they get back to full strength.
While she recognizes this as a setback, Rudzinski says it doesn’t change her ultimate goal, “Making sure everyone in Wilson County is aware of the programs we offer.”
The community help center provides a variety of services, ranging from food to clothing to utility assistance. The center also helps with prescription costs, gas vouchers for out-of-town doctor appointments and even a mattress and box spring for those who qualify.
Through community fundraising events like the upcoming Ducky Derby raffle drawing on May 1, the help center is able to fund their operation. However a lot of resources come from donations to the thrift store at 203 W. High St. in Lebanon. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations can be made Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about how to buy a Ducky Derby raffle ticket or to make a donation, visit wilsoncountyhelpcenter.org.