Everything that happens at the old Finklea Community Center brings it one step closer to being the viable part of the community that it once was. Built in the 50s as a separate but equal school prior to integration, it served for years as an all-black high school. Once schools were totally integrated, there were no more classes there and the school began serving as other things, including the Finklea Career Center, where young people learned many trades.
Parts of the school are in bad shape, but other parts are being used for important events and there are many plans to improve it so that the lives of people can also be improved.
During the community’s tribute to Black History Month, several films have been shown there. The last one will be “Glory,’ which is to be shown on Friday at 7 p.m. Popcorn is free. Other refreshments may be purchased at reasonable prices. Everyone is welcome to the center with a family atmosphere.
Brenda Rhue, whose dream of providing transitional housing for people in need there. and ways for them to get educated so that they can not only have a job for themselves but provide jobs for others, hinges on the success of the improvements to the building. “I’m just moving slow like a turtle,” she said. “Whatever God says, that’s what I’m doing.”
Rhue is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Project Hope, which has saved numerous women coming out of jail from going back to the streets or to their traffickers, and has helped many more men and woman for various reasons.
She said she has contracted with the Lowcountry Food Bank to feed the children of the community at the center during the summer. With the help of some volunteers, she has also opened a clothes bank. She needs volunteers for both of those.
She is meeting this week with a grant writer in her efforts to get a grant to repair the roof, which already was damaged some but got more damage with Hurricane Matthew, so that transitional housing can be offered to people with no place to go. She is also meeting with a barber, and is hoping that barber will open a barber school there to provide careers for some of the young people and allow them to do the same for others. “It’s coming along slowly but surely,” she said.
Rhue said they had a great play there during Black History Month and a lot of people attended. Although parts of the center have been setting unused, activities there have not stopped and over the past few years, a group of women have made it famous in desolate spots around the world by making and sending hundreds (maybe thousands) of dresses to little girls who might never have owned a new dress, and probably never have seen any made with the love that those women stitch into theirs.
Check out the Fnlklea Community Center and find out how you can help and have fun at the same time. You can find Project Hope Outreach on Facebook or call Rhue at 855-7039.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.