12/15/10 — Church's gift pushes fundraiser for Kitty Askins chapel to $100,000

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Church's gift pushes fundraiser for Kitty Askins chapel to $100,000

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 15, 2010 1:46 PM

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From left, Norma Carole McDonald, Mount Olive Kitty Askins chairman, accepts a $5,000 donation from Rooty Branch Free Will Baptist Church representatives Janice Barwick, who headed the church's fundraising, and the Rev. Mickey Whitfield, pastor.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A group of local volunteers has made believers out of people who had been somewhat skeptical that $100,000 could be raised during a down economy for the Kitty Askins Hospice Center's $4 million capital project.

Not only has the grassroots effort achieved its goal, it has done so in just seven months instead of the three years that the campaign had planned for.

"It is a lot of people doing a lot of work," said Norma Carole McDonald, chairman of the Mount Olive committee. "God is giving people the spirit to give."

A faith-based initiative in which churches took up offerings in October and November for the project is being credited with helping reach the goal.

The most recent donation was made Saturday morning -- a $5,000 check from Rooty Branch Free Will Baptist Church.

The money the committee raises will go toward the Kitty Askins Center's new chapel -- to be named the Mount Olive Area Chapel.

One person not surprised at the campaign's success is Dean Lee, president and chief operating officer for Home Health and Hospice Care, which operates Kitty Askins.

"I can tell you from our perspective it is another example of the wonderful area and community that we live in," Lee said. "There were 43 area churches that contributed. I can't say that I am surprised with the kinds of folks we have in Wayne and Duplin counties. It shows the compassion of people who live here and who want their loved ones to be cared for especially near the end of life."

People who have had experience with Kitty Askins talk about how wonderful the place is and how the people who work there take care of their loved ones and the entire family, Lee said.

"Our patient is the entire family," he said.

Officials with the state Division of Health Services Regulations were invited to the facility earlier this past week for a preliminary inspection, Lee said. The division ensures that all licensing requirements are being met.

The expansion will add 13,000 square feet to the facility and double its occupancy to 24 beds. It is expected to be finished prior to Christmas and ready for patients in late January or early February.

Once opened, residents will be moved to the new wing to allow the older wing to be renovated.

The renovation project will include new energy-efficient windows, new paint, wall coverings, flooring and furnishings.

Handing the move that way will mean that Kitty Askins will continue to operate on a regular basis without loss of rooms, Lee said. That was an important consideration during the holidays, he said.

The renovation is expected to take about 30 days.

The local faith-based initiative gained the support of more than 40 churches in the Mount Olive, Dudley, Seven Springs, Calypso and Faison communities. Partici-pating churches will be recognized in the chapel.

"We hope to invite the churches to Kitty Askins for a ribbon cutting or an open house once it opens," Mrs. McDonald said.

Anyone who makes a donation for the chapel needs to ensure that it is designated for the Mount Olive Area Chapel, otherwise it will go into the project's general building fund, she said.

People may still pick up brochures about the local efforts at the Mount Olive First United Methodist Church. The brochure includes a form for making a donation.