Sampson Partners, United Way reflect on outreach
After more than 30 years of service, all in the name of growing Sampson County, members from Sampson Partners, the United Way and invited guest were rewarded with a party to celebrate all their accomplishments over those years.
A room filled with people who’ve dedicated themselves to uplifting Sampson gathered at Alfredo’s Ristorante on Thursday evening for dinner and fellowship. A fresh salad was served along with a delicious meal of chicken alfredo and lasagna as the main course.
The president of Sampson Partners, Dr. Paul Viser, was the host and emcee.
“I had someone ask me what time was my fundraiser’s today, but this is not a fundraising — it’s a party. If anyone asks for money give us their names and we’ll call security,” he said jokingly to a laughter-filled room. “Johnny and I decided that since we had such a good time in January of 2020 when we dedicated our building, that it was time for another party.”
“So this time it’s not about a building but about relationships, one that is just amazing between United Way of Sampson County and our organization Sampson Partners.”
“I feel honored to serve on this board,” United Way of Sampson Executive Director, Wendi Ferrell, said. “My husband and I moved to Clinton in September and we just wanted to do whatever we could to get involved to make this a better place for our kids and for our community.”
“What a wonderful evening it is to celebrate our partnership over the years,” she added. “This room is filled with people and affiliates that have worked tirelessly to make Sampson County great and we at United Way appreciate all you guys’ work. It’s just an honor to be here sharing this moment with you.”
Sampson Partners, which was once the Sampson Crisis Center, is a 501(c)(3) Christian organization whose sole mission is to address basic human needs in Sampson County. These needs include food, clothing, shelter and other necessities of life. Primarily, their support is in the form of cash disbursements to local nonprofits (e.g. United Way, UCare, Tim’s Gift) and to various initiatives within churches (e.g. Backpack Buddies, Hurricane Florence relief). In addition, support is also sometimes directed through Sampson County Department of Social Services.
“Our organization was founded in 1986 and then, in 1991, the local chapter of the United Way was formed,” Dr. Viser said. “This is long time, I mean, for at least 20 years United Way was the lifeblood of the Sampson Crisis Center. They do a serious job there and we really needed them for a long time. Our relationship has evolved over the years, but now we’re able to relate to them as peers. It’s been a lot of fun and we‘re happy to share this moment and more with them in the future.”
A surprise guest attend the party, Brandon Price, who was with the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity. He was the guest speaker and came to introduce himself as well as reveal a surprise announcement.
“Good afternoon everyone — my name is Brandon price and as of 5:01 p.m. I am the CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Fayetteville,” he announced. “The Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity, we serve Cumberland County, Bladen County and Sampson counties and we’re really excited to be a part of this community.”
“Many of you may remember in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit and then Florence came in 2018, a lot of homes were destroyed, especially in rural communities like this one,” Price continued. “In response, Habitat geared up and we started performing home repairs to get those families back into their homes.”
“That’s what Habitat for Humanity is, we are a Christian organization, we make no apologies for that, and we believe that God is the cornerstone of what we do.”
The Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc (FAHFH), is a Christian organization that was founded in 1988 with the mission to build safe, affordable energy-efficient homes in Cumberland County. In 2016 many areas, where Habitat Homes were built, experienced major flooding during Hurricane Matthew. Their Critical Home Repair Program began as a response to Hurricane Matthew and has continued making homes safe and secure since then.
In 2019, FAHFH expanded their reach beyond Cumberland county into the neighboring counties, Bladen and Sampson. Through their three programs (Home ownership, Critical Home Repairs, Veteran Repairs), hundreds of individuals and families have been blessed with affordable housing opportunities and vital disaster-relief home repairs.
Price also answered a question regarding what projects FAHFH was currently working on here in Sampson County. He’d share some insight into those projects.
“So the projects that we have going on right here in Sampson County are on the corner of Jackson Street and William Street,” he said. “We have six properties that have been going on. I think two are already built and two are underway right now. Typically we build three- or four-bedroom homes that are cottage style and each family qualifies based on their income.”
After Price spoke, many more encouraging and uplifting words were shared from many different people who’ve been involved with these organizations in an abundance of capacities. The closing words from Sampson Partners Vice President Peggy Melvin, however, summed up the mutual heartfelt feelings of all those in attendance.
“I just want to say that I have really enjoyed myself here this afternoon,” she said. “I’m so glad to be a part of all this. I love Sampson Partners and I loved it when it was the Crisis Center. Just to be able to step out and help somebody, it’s a wonderful feeling. I hope that, as long as I’m able. As I keep telling everybody, I’ll be 80 the 19th of July and while I may not be hopping I’m definitely not stopping. I pray neither will any of you.”
Reach Michael B. Hardison at 910-249-4231. Follow us on Twitter at @SamsponInd, like us on Facebook, and check out our Instagram at @thesampsonindependent.