05/16/11 — Butterflies fly at Kitty Askins chapel

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Butterflies fly at Kitty Askins chapel

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 16, 2011 1:46 PM

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Debbie Jones, one of the committee members who helped raise funds for the Kitty Askins Mount Olive Area Chapel, releases a dozen butterflies as part of the chapel dedication ceremony Sunday afternoon. The Mount Olive group raised more than $100,000 in less than eight months to name the chapel.

As prayers and butterflies both floated toward the heavens Sunday afternoon, a group of nearly 50 people gathered to dedicate the new Mount Olive Area Chapel at Kitty Askins.

The chapel, which was built as part of the hospice center's $4 million expansion project last year, was the focus of a recent $100,000 fundraising campaign in Mount Olive.

Headed by Norma Carole McDonald, the campaign to sponsor the new chapel was originally intended to be a three-year effort. However, in less than eight months the group met its $100,000 goal, and on Sunday, reported a total of more than $130,000 raised for Kitty Askins.

For Mrs. McDonald, Sunday's ceremony was a fitting end to the months of work.

"Most people said we were crazy -- that with the economy like this, there was no way. But we said we could," she said, speaking during the short ceremony.

And while getting the Mount Olive area churches on board was a key to the effort -- 40 churches took up love offerings for the project -- there were many other people involved, too, including eight community organizations, 15 businesses and "many, many individuals."

"It was only with all the people working together with Jesus in the driver's seat that we raised $100,000 in eight months," she said.

Motivating the community, explained the Rev. Steven Wicks of Mount Olive Presbyterian Church, is the fact that about 14 percent of Kitty Askins patients have come from Mount Olive -- a high percentage considering the number of communities served by the center.

"There are many people who have been touched by Kitty Askins through loved ones or friends with loved ones," he said.

And so Sunday's ceremony wasn't just an opportunity celebrate the fundraising prowess of a community, it also was a chance to reflect on the important role this new space will play in people's lives.

Kitty Askins chaplain Paula Griffin said the new space is a much-needed improvement over the former chapel, which was small and secluded on one end of the facility.

This new chapel is in the center of building and has a large wall of windows overlooking an angel statue and green wooded area -- with little hint that just a stone's throw away is one of Goldsboro's busiest streets. Inside it has a cross and several dozen painted butterflies on the wall, all made by local artisans. Overall the room is light, airy and seemingly larger than it actually is.

It is, Ms. Griffin said, a place where one can immediately feel at peace -- something so important to those families with loved ones there, and even to patients themselves.

"It is a large, inviting space. It is incredibly peaceful," she said. "You walk through the door and the and look out the window on the world outside and it's just a reminder of God with us. It's a beautiful, beautiful room."