Fundraising continues for Blackmon Road wash house

adouglas@heraldonline.comSeptember 22, 2013 

Supporters of the wash house on Blackmon Road are continuing fundraising efforts to keep the facility open while a non-profit group’s volunteer board studies long-term solutions.

The wash house provides clean water, toilets and laundry machines for one of Rock Hill’s most underserved streets, Blackmon Road.

A Place For Hope, a non-profit community center, opened the wash house in 2010, and the effort was primarily funded by private donations. The group was forced to close the building earlier this year due to finances.

The cost to run the wash house is about $12,600 a year which includes insurance, electricity and water.

Donna Berry, A Place For Hope founder, remembers Blackmon Road in days before the wash house, or any organized support for the residents, existed.

She and her husband were living in Tega Cay when her mother read an article in The Herald about the community, Berry said.

The couple loaded their car with groceries on a Thanksgiving Day about 13 years ago and drove to Blackmon Road.

It was then that Berry met Hope Whitlock, one of the community’s oldest residents and the namesake of the community center, A Place For Hope.

Since then, the organization that Berry founded has gone through ups and downs.

But the mission is still a “God thing,” she says.

After the building was closed for about four months earlier this year, Agape announced it would oversee the facility and help pay its utility bills. Agape hosted Saturday’ fundraiser.

A Place For Hope – with a center next to the wash house – offers afterschool homework help for children and summer camps to support at-risk youth. Its original mission was bringing city of Rock Hill water and sewer service to the street.

The center’s reach goes beyond Blackmon Road and the programs serve children from other areas of Rock Hill.

Dave Keely, co-chair of the center’s board of directors and local doctor, said the organization is revising its three-year plan to chart out possible long-term solutions to the challenges that Blackmon Road residents face.

One option, he said, is to see what economic growth may come now that York County has widened Albright Road – the main thoroughfare which is close to the Blackmon Road community.

There is about 70 acres of land between Blackmon Road and Albright Road, Keely said, and the possibility of building housing for residents is a “hopeful next step.” New housing would be connected to the city water and sewer systems, limiting the community’s dependence on the existing wash house.

Once plagued by problems stemming from drug and alcohol abuse in the community, Blackmon Road has improved, supporters say, after years of community help.

In addition to Saturday’s fundraiser lunch, Agape held a “Reaching the Mass for Christ” concert on Saturday night with all proceeds going to the wash house fund.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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