Coalition Celebrates Gilmore Day
Volunteers and supporters of the Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care gathered Friday to celebrate the coalition's new Voit Gilmore Client Services Building.
The nonprofit organization announced that it was naming its new building for Gilmore, who died one year ago today.
The building on West Indiana Avenue, which is set for completion next spring, will house the coalition's administrative and client-services operations.
The coalition provides food, clothing and financial assistance to Moore County residents who have emergency needs.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life," said coalition Executive Director Caroline Eddy. "We outgrew the space we're in about five years ago."
The afternoon was also a celebration of the building's namesake, Gilmore, who was former Southern Pines mayor and state senator, developer, world traveler, community leader and philanthropist.
His wife, Jody, and son, Peter, attended the event, which was held on what would have been Gilmore's 88th birthday.
"He was such a humanitarian, always giving," Jody Gilmore said. "(The building) is going to do so much for the community."
Gilmore and Felton Capel, a longtime Southern Pines resident and community leader, helped pave the way for racial integration in the Sandhills. Capel spoke at the event about their friendship.
"Voit was a person that was so concerned about everybody," he said. "When I was with him, I was with somebody who could touch the bases of people everywhere."
And Voit Gilmore's legacy will live on, Coalition organizers said, with the construction of the new facility.
"We'll be able to serve more people down the road, expand services," said Jon Crane, who is president of the coalition's Board of Directors.
Last year alone, the organization provided food to more than 9,000 families and clothing to more than 5,000 people. It gave about $191,000 in direct financial assistance to those in need.
The new 6,000-square-foot building will have almost three times the space as the organization's current offices on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Those old offices will be expanded and used for the group's retail stores, which bring in half of what the coalition gives to clients in direct financial assistance -- aid to help pay for needs like prescription medication, rent, utilities and heating costs.
Leaders said they plan to eventually offer services to help prevent some of the desperate situations in which their clients find themselves. The new building will provide opportunities to set up cooking classes, budget workshops and parenting seminars.
It will also have more screening rooms to interview potential clients, and nearly double the seating in the waiting room.
"We can slow down, spend more time with people," Eddy said.
The coalition reached its capital campaign goal of $600,000 about a month ago, so construction of the building should start in the next week.
"As soon as we get a building permit, we'll start building," said builder Jeff Masar with New South Construction.
And that's just the kind of progress Gilmore would have wanted.
"He would just be ecstatic," said Jody Gilmore. "It's just what he would have wanted."
Katherine Evans is an intern from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Contact her at 693-2480 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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