by Chuck Landever
In the November/December issue of the Mountain Breeze I introduced, or reintroduced to some, the Bill’s Creek Community Center. My article focused on the rich history of the Center as well as the sacrifice and determination of the local community members who raised funds and built the center in 1957. The article pointed out a past to be proud of and a future to look forward to. However, the last article did not focus on the present, for good reason.
When the new board of the Bill’s Creek Community Center took over in June of this year we were faced with many obvious and some hidden challenges. For the most part, the Covid virus shuttered the Center tight for over two years. This type of hibernation is not good for an organization. Volunteers drift away, fundraisers needed to keep the place going, stop, and nature starts to take back a building when it is left alone. This was our situation in June. We were very, very low on funds. We had less than ten people involved in the Center. We had a HVAC system that stopped working. Insulation that needed to be ripped out and replaced. A back deck that was collapsing. A front deck that needed to be power washed and re-stained. An old shed that needed to be torn down. Overgrown brush and trees were collapsing the fence around the dog park, and a two year collection of dirt and mildew inside the building that needed to be cleaned.
Reading the above, a grim outlook would be understandable. But this article and the situation at the Bill’s Creek Community Center is not about calamity, not about capitulation to the challenge, not about despair. This article is about renewed determination and rebirth. About a Phoenix rising.
The Board knew we needed to clean the place up if we were to have any chance of returning the Community Center back to its old glory. The original eight people who showed up for the first meeting started to spread the word. We were trying to bring the Bill’s Creek Community Center back, but we needed a lot of help. From the eight people originally involved our numbers grew and grew. As our numbers grew, so did our efforts. Every wall, every inch of floor, every window, every cabinet, every appliance, even the ceiling was thoroughly cleaned. The grounds were cleaned, mowed and weeded. Fences mended, trash and old sheds removed. Over a 100 volunteer hours were donated in the clean-up effort. Still more needed to be done. The Community Center needed funds for repairs. Once again, the word was spread of our needs and our wonderful citizens and organizations came to the rescue. People generously donated funds. The Lions Club and Rumbling Bald both agreed to help. These organizations’ recognition of our efforts was very important to us. With the cash infusion we were able to repair the back deck, clean and paint the front deck, begin to update the bathrooms, and have the HVAC system repaired.
It took an awe inspiring group of energetic volunteers two months to clean and polish the Community Center. The board decided it was time to show off our “new” Bill’s Creek Community Center. In August we hosted a Community “Meet & Greet”. We had no idea how many people would show up. We put up signs, worked the social media but would anyone actually come?
The “Meet & Greet” started at 6PM. Immediately all the people who put so many hours of work in felt like we were transported into the movie “Field of Dreams” We built it and people came! We had 48 people come that night. They came from the Town of Lake Lure, from Polk County, from Green Hill, from Rumbling Bald, from Union Mills. New faces having conversations with people who live in the area all their lives. We all were very pleased with the outcome of our first function.
In September the Community Center had our County Councilman, Alan Toney, come to speak with the community. Again we all were pleased with the turnout and Mr. Toney mentioned that he was impressed with the Community’s interest and turnout. In October we had a Music Fun Day. The day turned out to be a great fundraiser for the Community Center and over 100 people enjoyed a day of food, fun and music.
More future events are planned. More fun and exciting times are ahead, but none of these good things would be possible if it was not for the generosity of our donors, our fantastic group of volunteers and the wonderful people in our area that have supported and encouraged us with their participation.. More work needs to be done, more volunteers are needed but the feeling is that the Bill’s Creek Community Center has a bright, exciting future. The Phoenix is rising.
If you have any questions, would like to join our volunteers, or would like to inquire about renting the Community Center for your private party, please email email@example.com