Ordinary men show extraordinary character

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 2004

AHOSKIE – Restoration is a word that Rob Chamblee, president of Ahoskie’s FCD (Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge) Club is very familiar with, but when he and his group took on their most recent project, they had no idea their efforts would be instrumental in restoring broken spirits.

The group got its start five years ago when Chamblee and a group of friends decided to organize their passion for reconditioning old cars and trucks into a formal club, a passion that is now reaching beyond chassis and shiny bumpers to provide a Merry Christmas for children whose lives have been touched by violence.

&uot;We wanted to give something back to the community,&uot; Chamblee said, &uot;but we weren’t sure which organization we were going to donate to.&uot;

The group, which now has between 30 and 35 members, already raised about $1,000 toward the endeavor before contacting Roanoke-Chowan S.A.F.E., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families facing domestic abuse and sexual assault.

&uot;Initially, we were planning on giving to the churches, but when one of our members, who was familiar with the work of S.A.F.E., shared the mission of the organization with us, we felt compelled to reach out those families,&uot; said FCD member Guy Hayes who helped coordinate the mission.

So, members of the FCD Club pooled their resources together and brought Christmas to them.

&uot;They called us on a Thursday or Friday and by Sunday they were ready to deliver packages to us,&uot; said S.A.F.E. Executive Director Lorraine Lassiter.

Familiar with the tainted reputation often associated with men as a result of domestic abuse and sexual assault, Lassiter said that this outreach would send a positive message to many hurting women and their children that not all men are abusive.

&uot;This is a very special group of men,&uot; Lassiter said. &uot;Not only did they donate gifts for the children, they purchased a 27&uot; TV for the recreation room, two DVD players, a VCR and some kids videos.&uot;

And, according to Lassiter, the men also agreed to volunteer their time to speak with the kids and discussed the possibility of having cookout and other events to give the kids more positive relational experiences.

&uot;We wanted to show people we had something to contribute,&uot; said Chamblee. &uot;A lot of people get the wrong impression about clubs and mistakenly stereotype them as being trouble, but we want to set a good example for others. Maybe one day, the kids will see our cars or trucks driving around and say, ‘Hey, that’s a good guy there’. We want to see the kids happy,&uot; he said.

&uot;These guys are some great role models in our community and we are so pleased they chose our organization,&uot; Lassiter said. &uot;I think their example is living proof that there are still men out there that are understanding, gentle and compassionate.&uot;

The gifts, which were delivered to S.A.F.E., will be sent to families currently receiving help from the organization in addition to imperishable items that were also donated by members of the FCD Club to help during the holiday.

&uot;It made us feel good to help out,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;I hope it helps some of the women and children to see that not all people are abusive. That’s one of the reasons we chose this organization.&uot;

S.A.F.E. provides direct services, support and education to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties and offers a 24-hour crisis help line, limited emergency transportation, shelter, court advocacy, hospital accompaniment and referrals to other agencies in addition to offering domestic and substance abuse support groups.

Members of the FCD Club meet every weekend in their clubhouse on Highway 13 in the Pinewood Chapel area.