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Northampton Commissioners approve more nonprofit funding

JACKSON – After contributing funds to a few local nonprofits last month, the Northampton County Commissioners approved two more grant requests at their regular meeting here on Sept. 9.

The commissioners first established this fund in 2019 in order to provide support for area nonprofits which serve the local community. According to Northampton County Economic Development Director Franklin Williams, the commissioners have already distributed a total of $8,000 in grants this fiscal year.

“So we have $12,000 in this fund left,” he explained before he presented the two requests.

The first application came from Gaston Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad. Though the group provides a number of services to citizens, the request was focused specifically on funding part of their cadet program, which gives young people experience in working with emergency services with the ultimate goal that they’ll pursue a career in that field.

The cadet program, which first began in 2014, has had several graduates go on to work at other local fire departments and rescue squads in the county or surrounding area. They’ve also had 10 graduates of the program join Northampton County EMS as employees.

“You can see it’s producing young people who have visions and goals and want to go further,” Williams said.

In their application, the organization requested $1,300 to cover the cost of sending four cadets to the National Junior Firefighter Academy in West Virginia.

“They have met all the requirements we have, and my recommendation is they be awarded at least $1,000,” Williams concluded.

“This is a great recruitment tool for the county, and I think this is a good investment for the county,” added County Manager Charles Jackson.

Board Chair Charles Tyner and the rest of the commissioners expressed their support for the program and what it offers.

“Volunteer firefighters and rescue people are now hard to find,” explained Tyner. “I can’t think of another nonprofit in this county who would be doing what they do. We want to make sure our citizens are taken care of. I just want to commend Gaston Fire and Rescue for an excellent job.”

“This is so critical to the care that we need,” said Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe.

Commissioner Nicole Boone agreed, mentioning that the opportunity to attend the academy, “sounds like a very vital opportunity for them.”

Buffaloe motioned to approve the grant for $1,300 and Boone seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Williams then presented the second application request which came from Hannah’s Place, a Roanoke Rapids-based nonprofit which provides services to domestic violence victims in Halifax and Northampton counties.

“They provide shelter, food, emergency clothes, and other basic necessities along with job training and transportation,” Williams explained. “They are a resource to help people who fall into these circumstances.”

The organization requested funding to help in a variety of areas including financial assistance for victims, production of informational brochures and educational materials, and covering operational expenses. It costs approximately $436 per day to house a family of four at their emergency shelter. Victims are not charged for their stay.

The application also noted that community donations have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the grant money would help continue to keep Hannah’s Place open.

Williams recommended they be awarded at least $1,000.

“There’s not a place in Northampton County that does these services for our citizens,” Tyner noted.

The vote was again unanimously in favor for a $1,000 contribution to Hannah’s Place. Boone provided the motion and Buffaloe seconded.

Last month, the commissioners approved donations to the Community Senior Enhancement Program in Severn ($5,000), the Lake Gaston Community Center ($2,000), and the National Center for Missing and Endangered, Inc, which is based in Jackson ($1,000).