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Grant awarded for renovation

LEWISTON-WOODVILLE — Their concept is to put health first: healthy living equals a healthy community.

One place in Bertie County that’s tried to always uphold that enterprise is The Hive House, located here. Now, the Hive House’s Healthy Living Project will receive a boost toward renovating and remastering its community center in West Bertie. That center will provide underserved youth and families with expanded health and recreational opportunities.

“It’s a healthy initiative not just here, but all across North Carolina,” said Hive House CEO and founder Vivian Saunders.

Now, the North Carolina Community Development Initiative (NCCDI) has received $149,250 in funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to acquire and renovate the Hive House.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, established in 1947, is now one of the largest private trusts in the state of North Carolina. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and quality of health for the financially needy of the Tar Heel state. Some examples include: the Poor and Needy Division, which responds to basic life needs and invests in solutions that improve the quality of life and health for financially needy residents within the Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point). The Health Care Division promotes wellness statewide by investing in prevention and treatment.

“This grant is going to be used to remodel the Hive so it can be used as a safe and stable environment for our young people to have activities in. It will help us totally renovate and update the inside and outside of the Hive,” added Saunders.

Traditionally, this area of Bertie County has not had the infrastructure to provide resources and health-oriented programs to the youth and the community in general. Saunders says she feels the Hive House helps build more resilient families by providing for the under-served youth in the county. Activities include: access to afterschool programs, a technology and education center that offers Wi-Fi, a community garden, a food pantry, and a temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence.

As part of their health improvement efforts, NCCDI has already joined with the Bertie CountyYMCA in Windsor to utilize the community center as a satellite site for the YMCA’s movement program that encourages healthy living among both the youth and their families.

“This project is so important for this community,” Saunders maintains. “This award helps small, non-profits like we are because we don’t have the means to handle this kind of funding.”

The Kate B. Reynolds Trust made their award on Saunders’ behalf to NCCDI. The program’s Director Tara Kenchen, a former teacher for Bertie County Schools, will mentor Saunders through the NCCDI with a goal of making the Hive a strong non-profit.

“The Hive House was an old Victorian house that was about to fall down,” Saunders continued. “Before we received funding from the Trust, we didn’t have the means or labor needed to renovate it. Up until recently, there were no real affordable afterschool programs for the youth and their families. Now, that’s changed.”

The renovation began four months ago and the group has set a goal to re-open its doors in Spring 2017. With the planned improvements, the NCCDI hopes to reach more than 520 young people each year. The partners hope to serve more than 900 clients each month through the expanded food pantry. Additionally, the renovations will allow for more partnerships to increase recreational opportunities for young people in Bertie County, beginning with the YMCA.

“The work being done to renovate the Hive House is so important to Bertie County, said Reynolds Trust Program Officer Adam Linker. “It speaks about the importance of collaboration and using innovative methods to reach and inspire community members.”

Linker, a former organizer and lobbyist with the North Carolina Justice Center, left that post to oversee the more than $17 million in health care grants that the Reynolds Trust provides.

“We will continue to watch the Hive House as is it grows into a place for community members to go, gather, teach and get healthy,” Linker added. “It truly is a piece of the county’s legacy, and one that the Trust is proud to support.”