Small Jones County non-profit receives large grant to expand area outreach with leadership academy
A small eastern North Carolina non-profit has received a large grant that will help expand their mission to meet a variety of needs in one of the state’s most economically distressed counties.
The Filling Station opened in 2017 to help address nutritional needs in Jones County, and Executive Director Mary Ann LeRay said the $75,000 grant will help them move into other areas of need.
“It's going to help make the leadership Academy possible, and I bet you're wondering what is the leadership Academy? It's a grassroots Academy that we will be able to teach, educate, and equip people with key leadership skills here in Jones County,” she explained.
Those interested in participating in the academy can apply online HERE.
“We're taking applications right now,” LeRay said. “Our Board of Directors is helping nominate people throughout the county, so it may come from our church, partners, county government, town, government, clients. We want a very diverse group.”
The Filling Station has continued to grow since it was founded.
“We started five years ago empty building,” she said, “It was the old Jenkins gas and oil operations they used to sell gas propane, so now we have repurposed the facility into filling stomachs … and minds.”
In fact, the organization opened its food pantry just two weeks before Hurricane Florence left behind devastating damage in Pollocksville in September 2018.
The disaster relief facility was open for six days a week for 14 weeks after the storm to serve those in Jones County that needed shelter, food or other help, and LeRay said they provided assistance to about 100-thousand people.
“We are 30 miles from the coast and had no idea what was coming,” she said, “Our region experienced historic levels of rainfall, and the rivers flooded to incomparable levels. The overflowing Trent River essentially destroyed the town of Pollocksville. Luckily, The Filling Station was on high ground, and we were able to serve the needs of the people in Jones County as an official disaster relief center,” she said.
In addition to the long recovery from Hurricane Florence, like other area food and community resource organizations, LeRay said the coronavirus pandemic, the recent spikes in fuel and energy prices, and the steep rise in inflation have impacted The Filling Station – but that hasn’t stopped the nonprofit’s growth.
“You know, God just keeps right on providing,” she said, “He stays one step ahead and keeps right on providing exactly what we need and when we need it. So, the impact has been great on both sides as far as demand as well as abundance, but the abundance stays ahead of the demand.”
LeRay said the source of the grant funding, the True Inspiration Awards, were established in 2015 to continue the legacy of S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. Tom Pike, Chick-Fil-A’s Operator in New Bern nominated The Filling Station for the award.
“He used to live here in Pollocksville,” LeRay explained, “So, Pollocksville is very near and dear to him. His home was flooded and so when he realized that we had a need and he had an answer, he nominated us for this award.”
More information about the organization is available on their website HERE.
Follow The Filling Station on Facebook HERE.