By RICK CURL
Of The Record Staff
A little over a year ago, the building that would become the Linden Community Building sat in disrepair and in need of a new roof.
Now, 15 months later, through the hard work and dedication of hardworking volunteers, the kindness of community, county and corporate donations and most of all a love of community, has brought the project to completion.
Linden Mayor Marie Butler called it a blessing for the community, one that will enrich the lives of everyone in town.
“It’s a blessing, it is a blessing to this area,” she said holding back tears. “Everyone has been so nice to chip in and do what they could. We just have a small, loving community. Of course, we’ve had a lot of outsiders come in and do things. It’s remarkable what has happened here.”
Grants came from multiple sources, including $10,000 seed money from the Giving Together Community Challenge Grant from the Cumberland County Community Foundation and a $40,000 grant from the Lowe’s Gives Foundation.
Erwin Lowe’s manager Jackie Bunch said it was an effort well worth the time it took to convince corporate officials Linden’s needs for the building outweighed the need from other places across the country.
“We just found someone to write the grant,” she said. “Then we lobbied the corporate office to pick this and choose the Linden project as the most needed project in a community.”
Behind the efforts to not only get the project — and the included library — off the ground was Betsy Small. Ms. Small went from place to place seeking the help the project needed. She was responsible for knocking on all the doors and bending the ears of those who would eventually help make the project a reality.
“I think this is going to be such an asset for the community,” she said. “In addition to our park, we now have a viable community building. When people move into an area there are two things they’re looking for — a place to have meetings, if they want, and a park.”
Ms. Bunch was quick to credit Ms. Small for being the catalyst behind the fundraising efforts and for getting out and encouraging, urging and persuading those who could help it was a worthwhile effort.
“It’s all about Miss Betsy and everything she did,” she said. “It was for Linden, but it was for Miss Betsy. She’s a wonderful person and without her this just wouldn’t have happened and we were privileged to be part of it.”
When the project first came to mind, it was thought it would only take replacing the roof, but volunteers from the Linden Men’s Christian Fellowship soon discovered it would be a much larger effort.
When pulling the trusses off to replace the roof, one of the exterior walls fell in leaving an uncertain future for the building.
“It’s almost like Christmas morning,” said Terry Fenwick, who led the construction efforts. “It’s just a joy because it’s been a long time. It’s like bearing a child and carrying that child for 14 or 15 months and finally having it so other people can enjoy it.”