Center welcomes new director
BOB SLOAN Editor
The reasons for celebration were many at the Courtney McGinnis Graham Community Center on May 29.
In honor and memory of the center’s namesake on what would have been her 50th birthday, the community center held an open house/birthday party. The occasion also served as an opportunity to introduce the center’s recently appointed new director and to show off recent upgrades to the facility.
Graham, an impassioned supporter and advocate for the homeless in Florence and the Pee Dee, died in June of 2015. In October of 2016, the center named in her honor was opened.
The McGinnis-Graham Center, located on Church Street, is one of three transition shelters that are part of House of Hope’s ministry. It is the largest single facility dedicated to serving the homeless in the Florence area. The 6,000-foot facility includes 36 beds for men, 24 beds for women and five rooms for families. It has a dining space, chapel, outdoor storage, and a small kennel. There is also space for limited counseling and job search services.
Welcoming guest to the center for the special occasion was new director Wanda Vereen. Vereen, who has worked with House of Hope for more than 10 years as a case manager, began work as director on May. 1
“I have a passion for this job and the people we serve,” Vereen said.
As part of a birthday celebration in memory of Graham, a butterfly release was held. Vereen passed out to each guest a small, triangular package containing a live butterfly. Following the reading of a poem by Vereen, the guests simultaneously released their butterflies.
“What a beautiful tribute,” said Angara Williamson, a volunteer at the center.
Prior to the birthday celebration, guests had a chance to tour the newly renovated facilities.
The Center will sponsor a First Friday Homeless event Friday from 9-11 a.m. at the Poynor Adult Education Center on South Dargan Street.
Participants can learn about free services from non-profit agencies in the Florence area.
Contact the Courtney McGinnis Graham Community Center at (843) 731-9315.