Bill Scott, of First Citizens Bank in Clinton, center, presents a donation to Paul Viser and Johnny Pridgen of Sampson Partners. – Courtesy Photo | Sebrinia Johnson
Crews make improvements for a building addition at Sampson Partners. – Courtesy Photo | Sebrinia Johnson
Next to the Sampson Partners’ building on Main Street, progress is being made for the next chapter of the organization’s history of helping people in need.
Leaders Johnny Pridgen and Paul Viser are watching the eyesore with no roof transform into new space for The Shop on Main. Through a $400,000 investment, Sampson Partners would like to expand furniture sales at the thrift shop. During a special celebration in January, they unveiled drawings of the future — a building with windows and awnings attached.
“We’re just excited about how smoothly things are going,” said Viser, president of Sampson Partners. “We have a lot of people who are a part of it on all levels.”
HN Carr is handling the construction, which began in March. Completion is scheduled for November. After it’s finished, the additional 4,000 square feet will expand the total amount of space to 11,000 square feet.
Although improvements are being made, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Christian-based organization is not letting it delay their mission. The exiting shop continues to accept donations of clothing furniture household goods to sell with discounts. Each month, Sampson Partners brings in an average of $3,000 in net profit. Funds are used to provide financial assistance to Sampson County nonprofits such as Tim’s Gift and UCare.
“We’re going to get behind all of these as we have in the past, but we’ll be able to do more in the future because of a bigger operation,” Viser said. “All of us are excited and we’re being encouraged by people all across the county who are also excited and doing things to help us out when it comes to moving furniture and sorting clothes.”
United Way recently received a donation of $2,000 for its disaster relief fund to help immediately after incidents such as hurricanes or tornadoes.
“We greatly appreciate their support of not only the United Way, but also of the community,” said Nancy Carr, executive director of United Way of Sampson County. “We are excited about the direction that they’re moving.”
Assistance is also provided to churches for programs dealing with hurricane relief, hot meals, and the Backpack Buddies initiative, which provides low-income children with food when school lunches and breakfasts are not available.
When the new building is fully operational, the organization is expecting to increase its cash support to $75,000 each year. All of the money will be distributed throughout Sampson County.
Fundraising for the new building are exceeding expectations. Personal and individual gift have ranged from $1 to $10,000. According to a news release, First Citizens Bank is leading the way with a $10,000 donations, an addition to providing a construction loan with favorable terms. Officials also noted that things have gone smoothly with the guidance and advice of Bill Scott, senior vice president of First Citizens Bank in Clinton.
Support is also coming from Star Communications, Jeff Nethercutt and Jeff Shipp; Performance Automotive, Ingrid and Vince Burgess; Coastal AgroBusiness; and State Farm Insurance, Ken and Kim Sutton.
Sampson Partners wants to have their new building paid for within the next 12 months and to have at least 500 donors who are able to make contributions within their financial means.
“We’re actually ahead on schedule with our fundraising plan to have the building paid off by next summer. I don’t see anything that’s going to keep us from doing that,” Viser said. “After that we can focus on running our shop in a efficient matter and deploying the funds to things within the county.”
Viser and Sampson Partners also showed appreciation for volunteers who are referred to as “a small army” of eager individuals. They play an important part with the labor-intensive work of sorting through donations and organizing them for display at the shop.
“The volunteers are energized and the number of volunteers are growing,” he said.
Male volunteers have been under -represented in the past, but many of them have already signed up to be the first group of volunteers for the new furniture department.
Sampson Partners started in 1986 as Clinton United Churches Crisis Center, Inc. and became known as Sampson Crisis Center, Inc. a few years later. During that time, Pridgen’s father, J.C. Pridgen Sr., was on the original board of directors.
The group’s assistance has undergone several changes, one of them being the discontinuation of food distribution and crisis intervention in 2014. The thrift shop continues to be a profitable operation.
Through reorganization, the name changed to Sampson Partners in the summer of 2018 and over the past three years, the organization donated $30,000 to help people around the county.
“It’s been an exhilarating ride,” Viser said. “There’s been so much change since last July and it’s been fun and challenging.”
Along with Viser and Pridgen, the other directors are Peggy Melvin, Willie Mitchell, Margaret Spivey and Rhonda West. A seventh board member to handle management of furniture pickup will be added in the future.
“Overall, Sampson Partners is already successful with its current business model, but the hope is to do so much more in the years ahead,” officials stated in a news release. “The Board of Directors anticipates being an increasingly meaningful part of the fabric of Sampson County’s humanitarian outreach. It is a team effort, and the broad base of enthusiasts ensures a secure future for the organization. More importantly, Sampson Partners will continue to have the capability to extend a hand of financial support to others across the county.”
Donations can be made online with a credit card at the website www.sampsonpartners.org or by check mailed to: Sampson Partners, 309 E. Main St., Clinton, N.C. 28328.
Every gift will be followed by a handwritten note of thanks and also a letter to keep on file for tax purposes. All donors will be permanently recognized on a plaque within the new building, with donors simply listed alphabetically, not by giving categories.
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Reach Chase Jordan at 910-592-8137. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.