They came from near and far. Visitors filled every room and corner of the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education center. News media captured the historic event. And a sign on the building captured the essence of the entire project: "Divine Intervention."
Project leader Vince Spaulding testified to the dozens of ways that the Divine Being enabled the project to take shape. Just at the time that some task was needed, or some work had to be done, or some equipment was needed, people would step up and help out. "There is a power stronger than all of us and what you see that happened at this community center is the result of divine intervention, which is a supernatural event of divine origin, a miracle, and some might say, an act of God."
BESDF president (and donor with his sister, Wanda Campbell Clay, of the farmhouse that has now been restored to become the center) Milton Campbell spoke about the leadership of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants in getting the project started. Historian and Curator of the North Carolina Museum of History, Earl Ijames, spoke movingly about the miraculous donation of a silver water pitcher set from Robert Egleston, a descendant of Rep. Claude Kitchin to support the legacy of Rep. George Henry White, an act of reconciliation that is a shining example to our entire nation.
The dozens of companies and professionals who donated time, work, expertise, to help build the center are memorialized on the several plaques lining the hallway. In the front seminar room, computers, electronic white board and large television were demonstrated, to show the center's capability to deliver educational programming. In the George Henry White room, the documentary, books, historical information and the silver water pitcher were on display.
PBS documentary filmmaker, Mike O'Connell, was recording the event.
Bladen County Department of Aging Director Kelly Robeson shared the many services and ways the department can provide through the facility. Sheriff Hatcher shared his own support for the project.
Local superintendent Ocie Jones exhorted everyone to use the center, saying, "This isn't a place for black or white or Indian, it's a place for all people." Volunteers and donors mingled and shared their excitement. A gift bag, prepared by Paula Spaulding with chocolate, printed materials and other items, was given to each family.
From Maryland, Gerald and Lynne Collins, who had helped with the most difficult construction work in the project, were on hand to see the final product, as was Tom Adams and his wife, from Durham, who helped bring the Bay Leaf Builders. Many descendants of Mattie and Roland Campbell, the house's original owners, were on hand to see their ancestral legacy become immortalized. BESDF leaders and local supporters, including Stacy Robinson, Luke Alexander, Jeannie Freeman, Kenneth Chestnut, Lester Jacobs, Elvis Matthews, Valarie Spaulding Little, Andrew Soles, and scores of others were on hand to mark the occasion. The help of numerous companies, including Trane Technologies, International Paper Foundation, Lowe's, Flex-Seal, SalesForce, Graham Security Services, Microsoft, Johns Hopkins University, Matthews Electric, Pridgen Brothers Contractors, LightSmith Productions, and many others, allowed this center to be built. Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro supported the renovation of two rooms into one, to become the large assembly room. The donations from families and individuals were multiplied and stretched through the hard work of so many. Every donor is acknowledged on the plaques throughout the building.
A few steps are still needed: insulation and new windows, to insure energy efficiency, and a new exterior paint job. Visitors were encouraged to fund the replacement of one window with a $250 gift, which will further allow the center to withstand the elements and save costs of operations. But at this moment, the center can now offer the classes, programs, presentations and meeting space that it was intended for. Many thanks to all who made this possible!