Mount Holly nonprofit still recovering from August floods

by Zacch Estrada-Petersen

Damage from a 2011 flashflood in downtown Mount Holly forced the Mount Holly Community Relief Organization to find a new home. (MIM file photo)

A Mount Holly relief organization that offers crisis assistance services is still in need of some help after a flood destroyed its facility last August.

The Mount Holly Community Relief Organization opted to sell the building in lieu of renovation after floodwaters filled the downtown building and has remained in temporary headquarters. The organization is still raising money for a new home, said Jason Bryant, president of the organization’s volunteer board.

“Although we are still in operation,” Bryant said. “We still stand in desperate need of a new home. We now operate out of two sites, one for clothing and another for food and other material assistance. This is, needless to say, less than ideal.”

The non-profit crisis assistance ministry that distributes food and clothes and provides monetary assistance to Mount Holly residents during times of need was hit hard by the disaster. Before it could even begin to offer aid to the residents and businesses along West Catawba Avenue stricken by the flood, it had to take care of the severe damage to its own facility.

“Immediately after the flood, we were unable to provide assistance to our clients for about two weeks, Bryant said. “Soon, thereafter, the City of Mount Holly temporarily offered us space in the old City Hall building. Once we were able to get moved in and situated, we once again began seeing people in need.”

Bryant said the agency hopes to raise an additional $100,000 to help buy or lease a suitable property, and they are appealing to the public for help, more so now than ever. Talks during the past seven months with various property owners about purchasing or renting a facility have been fruitless.

“Unfortunately, we do need financial aid right now in order to get us returned to a stable and sufficient base of operations,” Bryant said. “Although the city has been mostly gracious to our agency, there is no concrete agreement between them and us. And according to Mayor (Bryan) Hough and City Manager Danny Jackson, there’s not really much financially they can do to assist us.”

While still struggling to secure a new home, Bryant also hopes to shed light on the stereotype that the people they typically serve are those just sitting around waiting for a handout.

“I think it’s important to note that the preponderance of our clients are people just like you and I who have encountered a layoff or a medical situation,” Bryant said. “Given the overall state of our economy, these people are more likely to be our immediate neighbors than anything else.”

Bryant, who has volunteered with the organization for three years and became its president last April, also serves as the full-time pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Mount Holly. Despite the hardships the Community Relief Organization has endured, he is grateful for all the support the organization continues to receive.

“The vast majority of our operating budget comes from individuals and churches here in Mount Holly,” Bryant said. “In addition, we are blessed to receive a number of grants and benevolences throughout the year from corporate entities and the United Way.”

The Community Relief Organization doesn’t operate on money alone, though.

“Volunteers are the life-blood of our agency,” Bryant said. “With only a handful of paid staff, a great majority of work is done by our wonderful volunteers.”

For more information about the Mount Holly Community Relief Organization, call 704-827-0450.

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