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You ain’t seen nothing yet

Baptist State Convention executive director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield, Jr. (Left) and BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell cut the dedication ribbon in front of the NCBAM administration office in Thomasville on April 15, 2010.

The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry is proof that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

First off, let’s get the pronunciation of NCBAM correct. The “N” and the “C” are pronounced as separate letters. BAM is pronounced as a word –– “BAM.”

Thus: “N–C–BAM.”

Lots of people now shorten it to just BAM. Some people still say all letters, N-C-B-A-M. But it’s NCBAM or BAM for short. Lots of lovely people say it all –– “The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry.”

The original idea that NC Baptist State Convention Executive Director/Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield, Jr. and I discussed was a non- residential ministry that would do whatever we determined it would do.

That’s right — there was no blueprint, no guidelines, no similar ministry, no nothing. We started from scratch.

Wheelchair ramps built by Baptists have helped bring mobility to thousands.

I was asked to begin this ministry because, as Rev. Hollifield put it, “Dr. Blackwell, you are highly respected and trusted by North Carolina Baptists. The Baptist Children’s Homes is known for innovative ministries and that’s what we are looking for in a new ministry to senior adults.”

With that charge from Rev. Hollifield, we assembled a “blue ribbon committee” of experts in social services, elder law, finance, and ministry. The energy level was high and never ceased during a year-long study.

Bobby Boyd, BCH Trustee and NC Department of Social Services legend, enlisted experts from Area Agencies on Aging. The excitement was palpable. We met at Caraway Conference Center, ate at Caraway, prayed at Caraway, and had our final breakthrough at Caraway.

I had to sell the idea ––I loved doing that. First, to my own Board of Trustees, then to the Baptist State Convention and its appropriate committees.

We renovated (state-of-the-art) a dingy building that had –– to be kind –– seen better days — much better days.

The Baptist State Convention funded the renovation and fully funds operations for NCBAM today. To celebrate that partnership, we dedicated the Partners Library with resources, a meeting area, and office space. The much larger Michael C. Blackwell Conference Room hosts various events throughout the year.

20,000 Red Bags have been distributed to help the aging manage prescription medicines.

Dr. Sandy Gregory has been the one- and-only Director of NCBAM. I didn’t even interview anyone else for the job. I instinctively knew that Sandy was the perfect fit. Ten years later, I’m pleased to say that my choice has been proven right many times over.

We have six full-time and eight part-time staff members. They cover North Carolina like the “dew covers Dixie.” They are women and men of Christian faith and conviction and all have a heart for carrying out NCBAM’s mission of providing “Help for the Journey.”

One thing’s for sure — you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Article written by Michael C. Blackwell, President, CEO

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