GARLAND — A group of volunteers is looking forward to providing more celebrations and events with the help of town leaders.
During a Tuesday meeting for the Garland Board of Commissioners, Wanda Hill Simmons spoke on behalf of a group called Volunteers for the Town and Community of Garland, NC. A request was made for a continued partnership and assistance with a community Easter celebration and other events. In past months, a conflict regarding their meeting place at the town’s annex stirred emotions, after commissioners made a decision to use that facility as police headquarters.
The work of the group began through North Carolina Small Town Economic Prosperity (NC STEP), which was developed by state officials to help towns facing economic hardships. Funding for the program ended, but volunteers continued improvement efforts. Recently they organized the 2017 Community Day and Parade, Trunk or Treat and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
“As you are aware, one of the main goals was to provide quality community events that would promote revenue for businesses, as well as, instill pride and growth in the community,” Simmons said.
Simmons said the volunteers love Garland and are available to continue their partnership through the town sponsoring events and activities.
“We believe that as the leading officials of your town, you remain committed to promoting growth and pride in Garland and that all of you will welcome our willingness to assist with that goal,” Simmons said. “Other small North Carolina communities seem to be experiencing great success by the towns and volunteers working together to sponsor community events. The sky is truly the limit as to the wonderful accomplishments we can achieve by all of us working together.”
Commissioner Ralph Smith questioned if the group filed for nonprofit status, so they don’t have to be affiliated with the Garland municipality. Mary Brown, group member, said they’ve researched the strategies and plans of forming a nonprofit. The group is not ready to go in that direction. But Smith pointed out that the softball league was formed as a nonprofit and asked the volunteer group where their money was coming from. Group members said town officials are involved in the process.
“All we’ve done is volunteer with the Town of Garland,” Smith said. “Some of the events have had vendors and those funds have been channeled through the town. We’ve just been volunteering to provide quality events to our citizens.”
Donations for events such as Community Day, go through the town as well.
“We’ve just been out there on the ground trying to help,” she said.
Smith said town officials would need to look into legal matters regrading the collection of funds.
“I don’t know if it’s the right way for us to do it or not,” Smith said.
While addressing the nonprofit matter and official membership numbers, Mayor Winifred Murphy said the group is very fluent with volunteers coming and going and that no audit problems were discovered. She believes that the town is very blessed to have a volunteer group to support the small staff.
“We can’t do it without them and they can’t do it without us,” Murphy said while talking about the services provided and forming partnerships.
Following the presentations and feedback, the commissioners approved the Easter Celebration for Monday, April 2, at the Softball Complex. The event will include an egg hunt, vendors, games, and other attractions for families. In addition to the upcoming celebration, the volunteer group would also like to host a rally for children going back to school in August. The purpose of the event is to help families with school supplies needs and provide motivation in the process.
“If these proposed community events are established as annual events held on specific dates, they can be more successfully promoted,” Simmons said. “Greater participation would mean greater outcomes for Garland.”
During the meeting, Mary Smith, a resident and volunteer, also expressed her concern about not having a community building for local groups to meet. With the police station being set up in the annex, Smith added that there’s no longer a town visitor center.
“As a volunteer, I hope that we have the much needed support of our town leaders, moving forward, and establishing a permanent building for all of Garland to share,” Smith said.
Murphy hopes to find a solution for the issue and to have a place for events. One of the hurdles of meeting space is having a small library and no school in town. For 2018. Smith added that group is trying to host a language swap workshop so participants can learn English and Spanish. They would also like to address Autism by planning events to spread awareness.
Reach Chase Jordan Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.