May 17, 2023 - Riding through Spring Lake with Carl Manning of Kingdom CDC, there is an almost tangible sense of anticipation and excitement for what is coming.
With the impending closure of Fort MacPherson in Atlanta, approximately 40,000 military personnel and civilians will be reassigned to Fort Bragg in Cumberland County. For comparison, the most recent Census data for Spring Lake lists the population at 8,098 people.
“Right now, 45,000 cars per day go through Spring Lake,” said Manning, Kingdom’s Executive Director. “After the base realignment, it will be at least 110,000 cars per day. Nothing is sacred anymore, because so much is going on.”
Manning explained that Spring Lake is at the heart of the matter, since it is located right outside the gate to Ft. Bragg. “What we have to look at now, is what do you need to do to capture what’s happening, before it happens.”
Kingdom is working to establish three major presences in Spring Lake: an IHOP restaurant and Candlewood Suites Hotel; a green affordable housing development; and a downtown commercial building that will house Kingdom’s satellite office and local businesses. “What you see here is the beginning of a major change,” said Manning. “It may take five, ten, fifteen years, but it’s going to change; it has to.”
Even with all that is coming in Spring Lake, Kingdom remains extremely active in Fayetteville. They are part of an ongoing effort with the City, the Housing Authority and other nonprofits, to revive a downtown neighborhood. “About 40 years ago, they relocated all of the people out of there, and left it destitute,” said Manning. “A lot of slum lords came in and just drained it. The Housing Authority got some Hope VI funding from HUD to tear down the projects and build new housing. Fifty lots went to us and 50 went to Habitat for Humanity.” The partnership is engaged in tearing down the old public housing, in order to build new affordable homes in its place.
Manning is quick to give credit to his staff. “All of them work very hard,” said Manning. “Renee Barrington is our Fiscal Officer. Maintaining all the records - all the accounts we have and the projects we have going on - is quite intense, and all of our audits have been clean. Elsie Gilmore, our Housing Director; she’s been great on the programmatic side—counseling and educating clients, getting them prepared for homeownership. And Meredith McAllister, she’s been excellent with the foreclosure mitigation work as far as maintaining composure and compassion with the clients that are in very, very dire situations when they come in.” Their newest staff member is Angelina Porter, Intake Specialist, who will be the initial point of contact for program clients.
Their enthusiasm for the work they do is apparent. McAllister, the Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Specialist, said that since she joined Kingdom in the spring of 2009, they have seen over 200 clients, with a 90% success rate in coming up with a resolution for the homeowner.
“My experience with Kingdom has been phenomenal,” said McAllister. “I came from a much larger organization, but I’ve been amazed at the impact Kingdom has — being able to help so many families and touch so many lives, even though we’re a small organization.”
Kingdom may be a small organization, but the big dreams and hard work of its staff will leave a lasting impact on the community.