Hope Mills News

Hope Mills church expanding food ministry

11 missionfieldministriesTwenty-one years ago, Pastor Michael Mathis felt a calling to branch out on his own and establish a ministry that was both aimed at worship and serving his fellow man.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a ministry like the one Mathis operates has become more important, and he’s trying to let people in need from Hope Mills and beyond know what he has available for them.

Mathis is the founder of Mission Field Ministries, which has its physical location at 3429 Black and Decker Rd. on the outskirts of Hope Mills.

He had previously served at Williams Chapel from 1988-99 when he felt a calling to establish his own church.

He started his ministry with regular worship services at the Comfort Inn on Skibo Road in 2000, meeting there for about six years before setting up his own place of worship.
Outreach has always been a part of what Mathis has done as a minister. He’s held regular programs at Haymount Rehabilitation Center on Bragg Boulevard and the prison in Scotland County, until the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced him to limit his interaction at both those facilities.

He’s also done outreach to the homeless in the area, making visits to them beneath bridges to provide assistance.

Over the past two years, Mathis has expanded another aspect of his ministry that provides food to those in need. Originally, he was serving about five families on a regular basis. A partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank has increased the reach of the food ministry.

Currently, he’s serving about 25 families regularly, and he’s looking to expand more as the pandemic continues.

“About four months ago, we saw the need to do this monthly,’’ he said of the food distribution. As a result, Mathis has designated the third Saturday of every month as the day he holds food giveaways at his Black and Decker Road location.

After getting the food from Second Harvest or other sources, Mathis has a team that puts it in boxes. The food is provided in an unprepared state and includes both perishable and non-perishable items.

The goal with each food box is to provide the basics for a good meal for the family that is receiving it. Each third Saturday during the hours of noon to 2 p.m., any family in need is invited to drive up to the church, open their trunk and the box of food is placed inside.

No eating of food on the church grounds is permitted.

Mathis said there is no paperwork for people to fill out, no interview process. It is given to anyone who is in need and wants to stop by.

So far, Mathis said they’ve never run out of food during one of these giveaways, but Mathis said it is first come, first served so people are encouraged to arrive as soon as possible on the giveaway day.

“I’m sure the numbers are fixing to increase as more people embrace what we do,’’ he said. For that reason, he welcomes donations from anyone who would like to contribute food to the ministry. “I’m proud of the kind of food items we are issuing,’’ he said. “I want people to know about this.’’

If interested, contact Mathis directly at 910-988-0795.

Porch Parade replaces traditional Hope Mills Fourth of July

 10 4th of july decorationsThere will be no Fourth of July parade and no public fireworks display in Hope Mills this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The town’s Board of Commissioners recently voted to delay the fireworks until Ole Mill Days in the fall, concerned about large crowds that might gather to watch as reports of spikes in the spread of the disease

Meghan Freeman of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation staff began exploring alternative ways to celebrate the holiday and learned of a tradition in another town involving decorating homes and businesses. Freeman thought it was a cute way to observe the holiday while still keeping safe through social distancing.

Townsfolk are urged to show off their patriotism in any manner they choose. It can include displays of red, white and blue, or they can put together a display that honors first responders or essential workers.

“The purpose of decorating is to unleash their creativity and bring a smile to their neighbors,’’ Freeman said. If they don’t have a porch or lawn, Freeman said homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses in Hope Mills can decorate anything about their location that can be seen from the street or the sidewalk.

People who have piers on Hope Mills Lake are also welcome to decorate those, but Freeman said she doesn’t plan to include them in the decorating contest that the town will be conducting.

There will be three categories in the decorating contest. They are most patriotic, most outstanding decoration and spirit of freedom. Prizes will be awarded in each category, but Freeman said a final decision on the nature of the prizes won’t be announced until June 30.

Registration closed prior to the publication of this article. Contestants need to have their decorations in place by June 30 and leave them on display through July 5, which is when the winners will be announced.

A committee of elected town officials will drive around to look at the various decorations and make the decision on the winner.

Anyone who registered for the competition will have their home marked on an interactive map on the townofhopemills.com website, so people can have a virtual map to find the decorated homes.

It will indicate both the address and whether or not the decorations include lights that can be seen at night. The first 50 who sign up will also get
yard signs.

“We could have easily just thrown up our hands,’’ Freeman said. “I think we are providing an outlet for some sort of patriotism. It brings the community together and it’s a time to have fun.’’

Deputy Chief Bradley Dean of the Hope Mills Police Department reminded everyone planning their own fireworks that anything that shoots into the air or explodes is illegal without a pyrotechnic license.

Dean added the police would rather educate than enforce, but if someone is injured or property damage results from illegal fireworks, they have no choice. “We want people to be safe,’’ he said.

Fire marshal fills key role for town, businesses

12 chuckhodges copyThe town of Hope Mills is looking for a new fire marshal and hopes to have one in place by the end of July.

“Pretty much every municipality has its own fire marshal or they have to contract with the county,’’ said Hope Mills fire chief Chuck Hodges, adding the town has had its own fire marshal since the early 1990s.

Currently, a part-time assistant fire marshal is handling most of those duties, which include inspecting local businesses and buildings for their adherence to fire codes.

But the assistant is only qualified to do what are called level one and two inspections. Hodges said they need someone full-time who has complete training and certification to do higher level inspections, known as level three, for larger businesses like Lowe’s and Walmart.

There are people on the current staff, Hodges said, including himself and the deputy chief, who are certified to do the higher level inspections. “With as much construction and building as there is going on in Hope Mills, we don’t have the time to do it,’’ Hodges said.

That’s why it’s important that the town get a full-time fire marshal on board.

In addition to doing business inspections, Hodges said the new fire marshal will, in many ways, become the most familiar public face of the fire department in the community.

The fire marshal is charged with educating the public on the topic of fire safety.

“If there is a civic group or fire prevention class, they will be the ones who coordinate that,’’ Hodges said of the fire marshal.

He said the fire marshal plays a major role during fire prevention month, which is typically held during October, in conjunction with the anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

“They do public relations functions where it comes to fire and life safety,’’ Hodges said. “Public speaking skills are a plus.’’

When it comes to relating with business owners about fire safety issues, Hodges said the ultimate goal is to make all businesses in the town safe for both patrons and employees.

In a roundabout way, it’s also designed to make it safer for the firefighters should they ever have to respond to a situation at a local business.

“If they are complying with code, it makes it safer for us to respond,’’ he said.

In addition to public relations skills, the fire marshal will also have to have command capability. “If I’m gone or the deputy chief is gone, the fire marshal is the next in charge,’’ Hodges said.

Hodges indicated the new fire marshal will likely come from outside the current staff as no one qualified and currently on board has expressed a serious interest in the position.

“It’s an important job, for everybody,’’ Hodges said. “It reduces the risk and adds to the quality of life for the people who live in the town.

“It’s rare they’re going to go into a business in town that’s not safe.’’

To apply for the fire marshal job, go to www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx.

More attendants needed at Hope Mills Lake

13 hopemillslakeThere was a time when the position of lake attendant at Hope Mills Lake was seasonal, but with the popularity of the lake since its return, the need for someone to be on duty more frequently has increased.

That’s why the town is seeking to add at least two part-time lake attendants as soon as possible to try and keep things in order at the popular recreational area.

Lamarco Morrison, who heads the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, said he’s currently having to assign full-time staffers who have other jobs to handle the lake attendant’s role.

“We definitely have to have someone there on the weekends to make sure they are adhering to the rules,’’ Morrison said. 

Those rules have gotten more complicated because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, with lake attendants having to step in and enforce social distancing restrictions.

The basic responsibilities of the lake attendant are fairly routine Morrison said. They monitor the lake and its park to make sure town ordinances are being observed, like no one fishing in the designated swimming area, making sure trash is picked up and making sure the restrooms at the lake are clean.

The lake attendant is not required to do any grounds care like mowing or weeding. They do need to check on things like making sure dogs are on leashes and that no one parks a vehicle at the boat ramp except to put a boat in the water and then leave.

Other rules that need to be enforced are no smoking and no weapons.

The main COVID-19 rule that is a problem with lake visitors is limiting all groups to a maximum of 25. That is also the limit imposed on the number of people that can be in the swimming area at one time.

While the wearing of masks is encouraged in the park, Morrison said it is not a rule.

There are no limits on how many cars can be parked in the lake parking lot, but Morrison said the lake attendant does enforce the 25-person rule when people are outside of their vehicles. If they decide to buy food at the nearby Big T’s food stand, they cannot congregate to eat it there in large groups and must either leave or eat in their cars. 

Park staff is no longer putting up a barricade at the parking lot at day’s end. Typical summer hours for the park are from dawn to dusk, with the park usually shutting down each day around 10 p.m. There is an attendant on duty from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. They work in two shifts of no more than six to six-and-a-half hours per day. State and federal laws limit how much the part-time attendants can work both weekly and annually without receiving benefits.

The attendants are not authorized to assess penalties for violating park rules. Their instructions are to tell someone one time if they are in violation of park rules. If the person ignores the warning and continues the violation, the attendants are not to confront the person violating the rules, but instead contact local law enforcement to handle the problem.

Unfortunately, Morrison said that has happened on numerous occasions.

To apply for the lake attendant position, go to Town Hall on Rockfish Road during normal business hours.
13 hopemillslake
You can also follow this link to the application online: www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx.

Kahlenberg's crucial role helping young people communicate

11 kahlenbergFew things are more important in the world we currently live in than being able to articulate individual wants and needs. It’s in times like these that the job of someone like Deana Kahlenberg is so important.

Kahlenberg, who is a speech language pathologist at Gallberry Farm Elementary School in Cumberland County, was recently honored by her peers as the Cumberland County Schools speech language pathologist of the year.

Kahlenberg said she was “blown away” to be recognized after being in the profession for only six years.

She was inspired to pursue her career by an elementary school teacher who created a love of working with children in her. Kahlenberg said there is also a history of stuttering in her family that sparked a personal interest in the profession.

While some speech pathologists work at multiple schools, Kahlenberg does all of her work with students at Gallberry Farm. Her focus is on students in preschool through fifth grade who have communication disorders. These can range from having difficulty making certain sounds to problems understanding or using language.

A graduate of Radford, Kahlenberg was an elementary classroom teacher for seven years before she and her husband Mark, who is also a speech pathologist in Cumberland County, went back to get their masters degrees in communication disorders.

Although this year changed things because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kahlenberg normally works with 50 to 60 students per year in both individual and group sessions, depending on the needs of each child.

Kahlenberg is part of a team approach that includes teachers, teacher assistants, parents and entire families in working with students who need communication help.
“The goal of what we do is to give everybody a voice,’’ she said of the students she works with. “I think it’s more critical than ever,’’ she said. “Making sure everyone has that voice and fair opportunity to get an education is our goal.’’

Because a lot of Kahlenberg’s work involves one-on-one interaction with students, the pandemic complicated things, especially when school was closed.

“We moved to teletherapy,’’ she said. “We rely heavily on caregivers and family members to help go through the therapy process. There is a lot of caregiver training and counseling involved.’’

Dawn Collins, the principal at Gallberry Farm, said Kahlenberg did everything in her power to make sure no students fell through the cracks because of the lack of face-to-face teaching this year once school closed.

“She used all the resources possible,’’ Collins said. “She would meet with students in small groups virtually and one-on-one. She considered it a personal goal to contact the students with the best resources she had.’’

Kahlenberg said her primary hope for any recognition she receives from being honored is to increase interest in the speech pathology profession and hopefully draw others to pursue it as a career.

“We are always needing more speech therapists,’’ she said. “I hope it will bring light to the profession and draw younger people to enter it.’’

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