WECT Feature: Nonprofit Established to Help Others, Build Community
Updated: May 21, 2018
Hurricane Matthew destroyed Tina Toler-Keel's home.
(Source: Tina Toler-Keel) COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) -
A group in Columbus County continues to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew more than a year after the storm. In fact, the nonprofit is just getting its feet off of the ground.
Community Connecting People and Resources, or Community CPR, is an organization Wallyce Todd started last year after seeing a need in the county where she grew up.
“There were needs that weren’t being met, so Community CPR has come about because there’s a need and there’s a way to meet the need," Todd said. "But there have been gaps in between, so we’re designed to make phone calls and emails and go visit and connect people with the resources they need.”
Todd wants Community CPR to provide tangible and spiritual needs to Matthew victims. CPR teams up with other groups in the county like Catholic Charities, Lutheran Services, Baptist Men, Hope for North Carolina and the county’s disaster response group, to organize and hand out donations.
Todd said beds are among the most frequently requested item. She said once families are finally placed in new homes, they don’t have necessities, like beds and other furniture.
“I could not have told you that in October of 2016, 'Oh, a year from now I will be setting up an office in my father’s former warehouse and I will create a space where nonprofits can work together to help the community,'” she said. “It was something God had in mind. He hadn’t told me quite yet, and maybe if he told me, I would have resisted, so it has come about just in trying to meet the needs. Where we are a year later is that Columbus County still has needs that are not met."
Tina Toler-Keel is one of those still in need. Matthew destroyed her home and everything inside.
“It was a loss. It was like a death. It was unreal,” Toler-Keel said. “When we first walked in, it was surreal. I can’t even tell you how I felt. I don’t think I felt anything. The smell was so bad from the raw sewage coming in with the flood water. That was so sickening that we could only stay five minutes, so I didn’t take time to think about it. It was just like, 'Wow, this is unreal.'”
Toler-Keel’s home being ruined is how she met Todd, who was one of the first to help Toler-Keel and her family. They met through Facebook.
“She came in with all of her cleaning supplies and flamboyance and said, 'I brought you cleaning supplies and I will bring more,'” Toler-Keel said of Todd.
Ever since, Community CPR has provided Toler-Keel’s family with clothes, beds and other donations.
It also sparked a friendship that has grown between the two women.
“Meeting (Todd) and knowing that she knows everybody and seeing what she is doing in the community, that gave me so much help for how a community should be," Toler-Keel said. "It’s almost like stepping back to The Andy Griffith Show. That’s how a community should be, a small town community all getting together, all helping each other and she has been instrumental in that.”
According to Todd, Community CPR has helped about 75 to 100 families like Toler-Keel’s in just under a year.
She said those they’re helping don’t always react the way you’d think they would when they give them donations because, she said, they’ve been through so much.
“Their responses aren’t always going to be ‘Aw, wow, this is amazing and wonderful,’" Todd said. "But then later you’ll get a text that says, 'Thank you. My child had the best night's sleep she ever had after sleeping on the mattress' or 'Thank you. I can finally feel that I have a place to cook for my family.' Those kind of responses do give you the motivation to go on.”
Toler-Keel said after seeing how much Todd has helped the county, she has gotten involved.
“I’m catching some of Wallyce’s energy and I feel like I can do this and I want to do this,” Toler-Keel said.
Todd said the county needs volunteers to help those displaced by the storm. She said those affected by Matthew also need financial donations, furniture and household items.
If you’d like to help, send donations to PO Box 243 Whiteville, NC, 28472. Donations are tax deductible.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to volunteer.
Community CPR will be hosting Continuing Hope for Columbus along with other groups from the Long Term Recovery Group on Oct. 21. The event will provide resources for Hurricane Matthew survivors and will have free food and entertainment. It will be at West Columbus High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.