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Helping domestic violence survivors

BB&T Lighthouse Project provides home startup kits for Wesley Shelter clients

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Dozens of new bedsheets, pillows, comforters, air mattresses and cookware lined the shelves inside Wesley Shelter.

BB&T employees had just stocked the room with many home startup kits that also included dishes, towels, shower curtains and basic cleaning supplies. It was one of several projects the company took on at the Wesley Shelter for this year’s Lighthouse Project.

Executive Director Lynne White said so many shelter residents don’t have much when they start all over again after fleeing domestic violence. She said when they do move out of the shelter, they have to first pay rent and a deposit, which leaves them with little if any money to spend on bedding and necessary items.

“These inflatable mattresses give them time to save for bedding,” White said. She said if survivors have to move in with their families, the inflatable bedding can go with them.

White said the home startup kits are vital for shelter clients.

“We use every single of one of them,” White said of the kits, which are put together each year by BB&T staff.

PRODUCE AND GARDEN LIFE

This year, BB&T employees took on five projects at Wesley Shelter, one of which included building a vegetable garden where children and clients will be able to pick their own produce.

“It’s beautified our garden and playground,” White said.

A separate team of BB&T employees built raised garden beds and planted sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, zucchini and herbs. They even created an irrigation system for the garden.

“We use a lot of produce in the safe house,” White said. The safe house is where women and children are housed after fleeing domestic violence. “Our residents like fresh vegetables.”

She said the team also added bird feeders as well. White said the garden is another opportunity to teach children about vegetables and nature.

“They get to interact,” she said.

Another group of BB&T employees organized the agency’s children’s library, which was a massive undertaking. The team grouped books together by reading level and age.

“That was labor-intensive,” White said. Other teams replaced ceiling tiles, painted walls and beautified the landscape outside Wesley Shelter offices. They also trimmed hedges, donated crafts and game supplies for the children and power-washed other areas.

One team bought a new, large upright freezer, and members will be stocking it with meat.

“That’s a big budget savings for us,” White said. “We get lots of donated food, but not a lot of donated meats.”

White said meat is an expensive food item, and the donation will help the agency save money so it can use the funds for other programs.

Wesley Shelter housed 166 women and children last year alone.

“That’s 11,000 meals,” White said. “We are providing three meals a day for clients.”

Another BB&T team put together outreach bags filled with water, toiletries, washcloths and other items as well as information about Wesley Shelter. Those bags will be used to reach out to the Hispanic community.

‘WE ARE SO GRATEFUL’

Wesley Shelter, a United Way agency, has been participating in the Lighthouse Project for eight years now. White said every year, her staff submits specific project requests, and each year, BB&T comes through. In addition to the donated items, the volunteer hours are a tremendous blessing.

“BB&T believes in our mission as our community does, and they want to support it as they do with so many other agencies,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of extra money for things that we would like to do. The Lighthouse Project fulfills that need. We are also building lasting relationships with the people we work with. Every year we are so grateful.”

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