Clark Gas & Oil is honored to share its success with the community it serves by contributing $10,000 to volunteer and non-profit organizations in Carroll County.
These funds will be used for heating assistance, volunteer fire and rescue training and equipment, educational projects, and programs for county youth. President Blair Clark and Vice President Anna Lester hosted an informal meeting sharing goals and concerns at the March 20 check presentations.
“These wonderful organizations represent love for one another and passion in servanthood for others. Our family has always believed in sharing our blessings with organizations who help make Carroll County such a wonderful place to live and work,” said Clark. “It is our duty as citizens to help contribute to our community’s well being. We hope that our contribution to our county’s schools, non-profit and volunteer groups will help enhance the quality of life for our citizens. We pay tribute to each group that is represented here and thank them for their service and how they are positively influencing our community.”
The Carroll County organizations that were honored included: First United Methodist Church, Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department, Carroll County Department of Social Services, Joy Ranch – A Christian Home for Children, Pipers Gap Rescue Squad, and Cana Volunteer Fire Department. Earlier recipients of contributions included Carroll County Middle School and Hillsville Elementary School. Blair told the group the company made contributions of $11,000, last year for a total of $64,000 in Carroll, Floyd and Patrick Counties.
“We had some cold weeks this winter but we are actually tracking the same as last year so forgive me if I look for some cold, numbing, miserable weather because that allows us to give more back to our communities. It’s not about us. We have tried this year and in year’s past to focus on you all. The main thing when we talk about goals and challenges in your world, it’s what we can learn about, network about and share,” said Clark. “One of my goals is to challenge other folks in business to not only give back to the community but more importantly, brainstorm in our circles to find outside money, if you will, to come and support communities.”
Hillsville Fire Chief Donnie Spanger shared a bit of the concerns common to Hillsville, Cana and Pipers Gap. According to Spanger, most local departments are utilizing partnerships to help on equipment exchanges and building up volunteer bases in the departments. A game changer for local departments has been new State guidelines, which require more time and expense to qualify for certification and State Registry.
He said work schedules and the economy have taken a toll with many local residents working seven days a week. He said daytime calls have increased, which also makes it tough for volunteers working irregular hours.
“Most people don’t work here like they used to. They have to travel so far to work you don’t have local businesses who can let the members leave, run the fire calls and come back like you used to. Carroll Fire and Rescue are trying to help us as well. It’s a work in progress and it always has been. It’s like having another job. It’s a service that is 24-7, seven days a week. All times of the nights, leaving families to run calls,” said Spanger. “It’s worth it when someone comes up to you and tells you, you made a difference. Those are the things that make a big difference and that’s the reason we do it. I know my wife and everybody’s families have sacrificed a lot of time. A lot of grief. too. The stress on marriages, they are our foundation too because they support us in what we do.”
Hillsville First United Methodist Church Missions Coordinator Joe Stilwell said one of the church’s biggest projects is the meals ministry, “The Dinner Bell,” which is a weekly community meal.
“This past second Tuesday in January was our second anniversary. We started out our first night cooking enough stuff for 35 people and we had one person,” said Stilwell. “It grew and now we are averaging 220. We have a good crew of volunteers. The good thing about us is we’re trying to offset from other local programs because there are people who go to both. One thing I’m passionate about is the kids we serve. We have a lot of families and we want to serve everybody. Through our other ministries, too. When there are children involved in this community, that really pulls on us and on me personally.”
He said volunteers are hoping to expand The Dinner Bell from one day a week into two. (Possibly a breakfast on weekends.) He said the church also offers fuel assistance, medication assistance and assistance with utilities.
“There are a lot of volunteers who work in our kitchen who do delivery. We run two vans now. There are people who can’t get there. Not only do they like the food, a lot, who I call the invisible people we see everyday, but we don’t give them a second thought. They come and have someone to talk to. That means more to some that a hot meal. Hopefully it’s going to keep growing,” Stilwell said. “One of our dreams is to promote year-round nutrition for the kids. The school is doing a good job with this but there are kids in our counties they have nobody to fend for them. I don’t know what mom and dad’s doing during the day, but there’s a kid there that can’t enjoy childhood because their stomach is growling.”
Joy Ranch Facility Manager Peter Pratt said it was exciting to hear of all the kid-coordinated relief efforts. He said the Ranch’s ministry to children has been around for 24 years.
“We minister to children in need; families in crisis. We want to help the families. The idea is to take care of the child until the family is ready. Volunteers are so important to me. We survive on volunteers who help out. Right now we have about 16 children. We have five cottages with two open. Other challenges are maintaining staff and maintaining buildings as we go to be better prepared. We can fill them easily but keeping good staff is not easy. It is not an easy job,” said Pratt. “Major goals for 2019 are putting up an industrial arts building which was made possible by a gift to us. I’ve been working out of the basement of one of the buildings. I’ll have my shop in there with all our equipment, hopefully a car lift.”
He said it will be used to teach children about cars, basic auto maintenance and a building/woodworking shop.”
Department of Social Services Senior Worker Ashley Phillips told the group the Department was finishing up aid to those in crisis connected with the winter, such as helping repair heating equipment, getting disconnection notices paid and helping those out of propane or gas.
“I think we had over 1,000 fuel applications and last month we had about 70 crisis applications. The crisis deadline for this is March 15 and it started in January. With crisis it has to be done within 48 hours so we are on a time limit trying to get all of our clients served and making sure they have heat. We’ve been short staffed with a lot of overtime but getting to help our community is definitely worth it. Having resources we can turn to, churches that can give them food and help with electric bills. It’s nice to have someone you can point your client to when you can’t help them. It’s nice to be able to talk with a vendor and get things solved,” said Phillips.
Clark said DSS helps with qualifying those for help which streamlines the process for local assistance groups.
“I think with everyone in here we wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t love our community. It’s nice everyone can work together,” Clark said.
Clark Gas & Oil, whose showroom in Hillsville is located at 135 East Stuart Dr., is a local family-owned business. Clark sells and delivers home heating oil and propane gas as well as appliances, heaters, hearth products, outdoor rooms, and stand-by whole house generators in Carroll, Floyd, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Patrick counties and surrounding areas. The On the Run Store at 26 Airport Road and E-Z Stop at 105 West Stuart Drive in Hillsville are also Clark-owned businesses.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.