12/15/09 — Contractors donate prep for Kitty Askins project

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Contractors donate prep for Kitty Askins project

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 15, 2009 1:46 PM

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Pictured are Jerry Smith of T.A. Loving, Ricky Russell of Barnhill Contractors, Jimmy Zills of Precision Plumbing, Dean Lee of 3HC, Lori Mozingo of Best Sand and Gravel, Chuck Allen of Allen Grading Co., Taylor Carr of S.T. Wooten and William Wilfong of Barnhill Contractors.

Chuck Allen remembers the first time he walked through Kitty Askins Hospice Center.

He was there to visit Hal Plonk, who served as Goldsboro's mayor for 22 years until his death in December 2001.

"When you need this place ... it's just a great, great thing," Allen said.

So when 3HC President and Chief Executive Officer Dean Lee asked him to help raise funds for a long-awaited expansion of the center, the mayor pro tem and local businessman began reaching out to other leaders in the business community -- hoping to bring in far more than the few thousand dollars he knew from the onset he could come up with.

"I could have raised $5,000, $10,000," Allen said. "But then I thought, 'What about donating the site work?'"

He knew the current economic climate would make the idea a tough sell to others with the means to support the effort, but with the help of T.A. Loving Co. President Sam Hunter, Allen pulled it off -- to the tune of nearly $200,000 of in-kind donations.

"Chuck really stepped up and led us to this point," Lee said. "Now, practically all the site work is being donated."

"This is such a big thing for the community," Allen replied. "We're just glad to be able to do it."

Six local businesses -- Allen Grading Co., T.A. Loving, S.T. Wooten, Best Sand & Gravel Inc., Precision Plumbing and Barnhill Contracting Co. -- are currently partnering to complete the majority of the site work at the under-construction SECU House, an addition to the existing Kitty Askins that will see the facility double from 12 beds to 24 -- a $750,000 grant from State Employees Credit Union awarded earlier this year made construction possible.

The hospice center opened in 1995 with six beds but two years later, community needs prompted its first expansion. The occupancy rate remained steady, often resulting in having to turn patients away, officials have said.

Then, in May 2007, 3HC's application for a Certificate of Need for 12 additional beds was approved by the state. Fundraising efforts have since been under way.

The expansion project will increase the size of the center on Wayne Memorial Drive by 13,000 square feet. And it will bring more patient rooms, a more homelike atmosphere to the facility, officials said -- natural lighting, a new chapel, an all-purpose room for volunteer activities and family gatherings, as well as a family kitchen.

But the most important aspect of Kitty Askins, Lee said, will remain the same.

"Love and compassion," he said.

The kind he witnessed long before his association with 3HC.

"My grandmother was a patient," he said. "And I got to see the impact that Kitty and that staff have on families."

"It's powerful," Allen added. "It really is."