01/17/11 — Churches beat goal for Kitty Askins chapel

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Churches beat goal for Kitty Askins chapel

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 17, 2011 1:46 PM

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From left, Rhae McClenny and Karen Reaves, representing Rhodes Friends Meeting, present a check of $1,500 to Norma Carole McDonald and Rose Beavers. McDonald and Beavers are part of a group of individuals who have raised more than $100,000 for the Kitty Askins Chapel.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A group of area residents that had hoped to raise $100,000 over a three-year period for the Kitty Askins Hospice Center's $4 million expansion project has surpassed its goal in less than nine months.

The fundraising efforts received a boost over the past several months as 36 churches throughout Wayne and Duplin counties collected offerings for the project.

For the committee chairman, Norma Carole McDonald, raising $116,183.60 to secure naming rights for Kitty Askins' new chapel is about more than just money.

"The best thing that has come out of this is the fact of so many churches working together for one common cause -- all of these people working together for one cause," she said. "It goes to show you that we have a good community.

"We started in April and it was going to be a three-year project. Even though we have gotten our money, others haven't."

As such, Mrs. McDonald said she encourages people to continue to make donations to the project.

"When Norma Carole said we were going to do this, I said all right and then when she said three years I thought yeah, we can probably do it in three years, but not within a year," committee member Rose Beavers said. "I did not think we would do it within a year because $100,000 is a lot of money to raise.

"With the economy as bad as it is, but people reached down deep into their hearts and their pockets. They saw a need. I think it is because people are being touched by it (Kitty Askins) more and more all of the time. They see that it is there for them, for everybody. More people are beginning to see that Kitty Askins has touched their life in some way. You don't dream that this is going to ever happen to you or that you are ever going to need to be there, but it happens."

The committee's first project was held last April during the North Carolina Pickle Festival when it charged people to park at the Mount Olive Family Medicine Center.

"With the amount we raised there we knew that it was possible," said committee member Edith Smith. "The amount that we made, no one could believe. They knew that it was there for us to get it."

Any money raised above the $100,000 goal also will go to Kitty Askins, Mrs. McDonald said. For example, a communion set is needed for the chapel, she said.

Mrs. Beavers said she saw the need for the project while her mother was a resident at Kitty Askins.

"I just think its very worthwhile," she said. "I saw the need and it is a need not just for me, but for everybody because it affects everybody. It is something that is there for everybody.

"It makes the process of losing a loved one, I can't say easier, but more bearable because of the compassion that is there. It puts you in a situation where it is more homelike than anything else."

Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. Beavers said they already have told their families that Kitty Askins is where they want to go.

"The staff there, I could not tell you enough about the staff," Mrs. Beavers said. "They are like angels and I just believe that the whole thing has been the will of God for it to be, to come together and be fulfilled in such a short period of time. I really do.

"It is an awesome place. It really is. You can go and cry and now they have a chapel where more than one can go and cry. The little chapel was maybe no bigger than (Mrs. McDonald's) foyer.

"It was very small. But now you have a place where you can go and pray because that is what you have got to do a lot of when you are in that situation."

Rhodes Friends Meeting recently made a $1,500 donation.

"We took up a love offering," church member Rhae McClenny said. "The second thing we do is that we tithe our building fund money each year. We took some out of it to make it $1,500."

"It felt good (to make the donation)," church member Karen Reaves said. "We have a small church with about 65 active members. When there is a need... we have just done so many things this Christmas really. It is just amazing what a small group can do. This (donation) was just a small part of our giving. We are active with our missions givings."

The expansion project will add 13,000 square feet to Kitty Askins and double its occupancy to 24 beds. It is expected to be ready for patients in late January or early February.

A ribbon cutting or open house will be held at the Mount Olive Area Chapel after Kitty Askins has its celebration, Mrs. McDonald said.

"They are talking about doing theirs the end of March or the first of April I think," she said. "So we will do ours after theirs."

The chapel will feature a wooden cross surrounded by ceramic butterflies -- another of the committee's projects.

For donation of $500, $1,000 or $1,500, people were able to purchase a butterfly to be placed on the chapel wall. The name of a loved one was inscribed on the butterfly.

The project was so successful that it was stopped after 30 butterflies had been sold. Mrs. McDonald said the concern was that having too many of the butterflies would make the wall look cluttered.

The butterflies, a symbol for the center, will appear to be in flight around the handmade wooden cross.