Front and Center! Lowe’s and Bay Leaf Builders Join Forces to Support Grassroots Project
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Kate Tsubata, 301-257-4243
Project leader: Vince Spaulding, 202-441-3589
After building a sturdy handicap access ramp just two months ago, a team of carpenters and the Whiteville Lowe’s have taken on an even tougher challenge—and nailed it! The George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center now has a strong and welcoming entryway at the front, with a rebuilt front porch complete with built-in benches, creating safe access from both entry points to the building.
Just a few years ago, the building at 731 Farmer’s Union Road in Clarkton was just a rundown farmhouse. The 120-year-old structure had plenty of problems—leaky roof, aging timbers, and was missing a few basic necessities like working plumbing or decent electrical wiring.
Local and distant volunteers alike have become inspired by the vision of creating a living memorial to the memory of the Rosindale native son who served in Congress from 1897 to 1901, to bring much-needed services and opportunity to the Columbus and Bladen county people. Skilled craftsmen have helped transform the aging structure to become a functional community center. The roof, exterior walls, windows, and back porch were repaired. Plumbing was installed, and two bathrooms and a kitchen were built in. A special project was the removal of an interior wall and strengthening of the foundation to create a large meeting area.
In October of 2020, Bay Leaf Builders came on the scene. In a single day, they built a handicapped access ramp that equips the facility for all people to use. Local residents welcomed them and provided a delicious meal to thank them for their hard work.
While there, the Bay Leaf Builders saw the sagging front porch. With both the supports and the decking weakened, it needed replacing. These outstanding carpenters offered to return to do this much more difficult project.
The project became possible when Zach Haines of the Lowe’s lumber in Whiteville offered to contribute $2,500 worth of building materials. Local project superintendent Ocie Jones coordinated the ordering and delivery of the materials to the center in Clarkton, as the Bay Leaf team made a series of trips to replace the weakened structure and build a sturdy new front porch.
“The Lowe’s manager, Zach Haines, and the Whiteville store’s team of associates, worked like a well-oiled machine. Each time the Bay Leaf team were coming—a two-hour drive for them from Raleigh—the list of materials was sent to the store, and sure enough, everything was ready when the builders arrived,” said Vince Spaulding, project leader.
“I cannot say enough about how much help Ocie has been to our team,” reported Dick Wilkinson, who led the efforts of Bay Leaf Builders. “He always had the materials available when we needed them.
Thanks to Lowe’s, Ocie was able to “get all the right materials to the site ahead of schedule. It really means a lot that he was able to pull this off on such short notice. We would not have been able to complete the work without his help,” Wilkinson said.
“On top of that we had a wonderful meal prepared by the ladies in the community,” Dick added, referring to the warm hospitality provided by Janet Cary, Gracie George, Stella Barden, and Carolyn Greene, and for previous workdays, by Barbara Troy, Mary Simmons and Mrs. Kenneth Todd.
Over the seven different workdays spread over three months, the builders had to contend with numerous obstacles. After one particularly difficult day, Dick wrote to the team, “Thank you all for a great day of work today. I don’t think you have any idea of how much we were able to accomplish today. We have built a firm foundation to now hold the floor surface. We also have a clear understanding of how we will mount the post for the seats on each end and also the post for the railing along the front of the porch. Can’t say enough about you giving your time for this wonderful project.”
Bay Leaf Builders is a ministry of the Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since 2008, the team has built more than 450 handicap ramps and structures to bless others in their time of need. They are inspired by the Biblical call, in 1 John 3:18, “Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
Working on the GH White Center project have been Bob Lassiter, 86; Bill Howard, 63; John Murray, 75; Steve Diering, 67; Steve Garrison, 78; Tom Adams, 76; Dick Wilkinson, 76. Bayleaf Baptist Church is led by Pastor Marty Jacuman, and the manager of Finance and Support is Will Warren, and the Missions Pastor is Will Gatling.
Response from the community has been powerful. “This is awesomely fantastic news and a real blessing!!!” wrote Valarie Spaulding Little. “On behalf of all of the Benjamin & Edith Spaulding Descendants, we are so extremely grateful to all those involved!”
“Thank you for your hard work. The community is very appreciative of this project becoming a reality,” said Stacy Robinson.
“Many thanks to Zach Haines and the great team at Lowe's lumber of Whiteville, for the donated lumber and materials that enabled the project to be done!” said Vince Spaulding.
On the part of Bay Leaf Builders, Dick Wilkinson said “Just want to say, “thank you.” Had no idea that we could get as much accomplished as we did today. With today’s work, the center now has safe access in both the front and the rear (with the previous handicap ramp). The Lord picked us to do this project, and I know he would say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center is a project of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation, a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization. For more information, reports and photos, please visit: https://www.georgehenrywhite.com/ghwcenter