Open Door Community Center receives $100,000 from General Assembly

Published 8:14 pm Friday, December 14, 2018

It’s a project that’s been three years in the making — a full-service shelter that will serve women who are experiencing homelessness and their children. On Friday, the Open Door Community Center received a big boost towards bringing that vision to fruition.

A check for $100,000 from the North Carolina General Assembly, secured with the assistance of retiring N.C. Senator Bill Cook, will help the shelter complete final renovations and stock up on supplies ahead of its anticipated opening in January.

“This building used to be a doctor’s office and had been sitting vacant for a number of years,” ODCC President Michele Mayo said. “It looked much like what you would picture a long-vacated doctor’s office to look like. It’s taken a considerable amount of planning and effort to make it look like a home.”

The impetus for the project came about in 2016 when a group called Beaufort County 360 was taking a look at needs in the community. Among their findings, the group discovered that while Ruth’s House was providing temporary shelter to survivors of domestic violence, there were no shelter options for women and their children who were not in that category.

“We found out, in that year, that there were more than 100 children in Beaufort County Schools who were considered homeless,” Mayo said. “That was really the piece of information that spurred us to break off of Beaufort 360 and form a group of people to address that issue.”

Ultimately, the goal of the ODCC will be to creating meaningful change in the lives of the shelter’s clients, helping break the cycle of homelessness for good. To that ends, the ODCC board has worked during renovations to establish connections and memorandums of understanding with the services and organizations that will help make that possible.

As for why Cook decided to help secure funds for the organization, the retiring senator said that his wife had volunteered for many years with Ruth’s House. Through that vicarious experience, Cook says he became more familiar with the needs of displaced and homeless women in the community.

From education to employment assistance and housing placement, coming to the shelter will be the beginning of a new opportunity. A paid case manager will help shelter clients work step-by-step towards financial independence and self-sufficiency.

Moving forward, the organization will rely on a combination of donations and grant funding to maintain operations. With support from churches in the community and a number of fundraisers that have already taken place, donations are still needed and welcomed. As the center looks towards its opening day sometime next month, there will also be opportunities for individuals interested in volunteering. For more information about ODCC, to donate or to contact the group for volunteer opportunities, visit