LUMBERTON — Some services of Robeson County Church and Community Center on Starlite Drive are temporarily on hold while staff starts the process of moving back to the Fifth Street location that flooded in October following Hurricane Matthew.
But the nonprofit will host a health fair on Tuesday.
The center’s headquarters and home store, located at 600 W. Fifth St. in Lumberton, were left with about 4 feet of water in the building in the wake of the hurricane’s furious trek across Robeson County in October. It sits beside the Lumber River.
The community center provides help to people needing food, clothing, baby clothes and diapers, furniture, and other items. Its home store is a thrift shop where bargain hunters can find clothes and other items. Proceeds from those sales go to the center’s food pantry and to programs that help people with rent, utilities, and medicine, said Darlene Jacobs, executive director.
Since the storm, it has operated out of the 1401 Starlite Drive warehouse, where it has collected and distributed clothing to those affected by Matthew.
As of Friday, the center’s temporary home on Starlite Drive closed for distribution to prepare for the move. However, for the time being, emergency assistance will still be available by going to the Starlite Drive office on Mondays. For more information, call 910-738-5204.
During the flood, the nonprofit lost everything except the holiday decorations on the top shelves, Jacobs said.
“Everything that we had was flooded. All of the furniture, the clothes — everything had to be gutted out as a result of the hurricane and so we’re having to rebuild shelving, replace walls. We had to tear out all of the carpets,” Jacobs said. “We lost all of our food. We lost all of our housing tools that we use for our housing program. We lost all of our building supplies as a result of the storm.”
The home store is expected to open on April 3. The center’s office is scheduled to reopen by May 1.
“The proceeds help the community with their light bills, rent, transportation, medicine and it helps the homeless, burn-out victims,” said Sheri Jennings, home store manager. “If you are burned out or homeless, or in that type of crisis, you go over to the office and they write up a voucher and it will have on there what you can get. You come over here and get it.”
Last year the center helped about 44,000 people with clothing, food, furniture, lights, rent and medicine, Jacobs said.
By the time the center had opened its temporary location on Starlite Drive, it had received 10 tractor-trailer loads of clothes.
The goal is to get the home store up and running first because it makes about $3,500 a week to support the center’s programs, Jacobs said. Shopping at the thrift store also is a favorite pastime for some people.
“I’ve had a lot of customers who came over to the new site and they say, ‘We can’t function.’ They can’t wait to get back over here,” Jennings said.
A free community health fair will be held Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Starlite Drive warehouse, Jacobs said. It will offer health screenings and chronic disease self-management support. It is being sponsored in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.