Members of Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville community gathered at the Tony Rand Student Center Nov. 19, at
Volunteerism was the theme of the night as the Community Blueprint Advisory Council members set up a two-part panel round robin, where they explained how they have impacted the area.
The Blueprint is a way for leaders and citizens to address several issues affecting veterans and Family members. They meet monthly to address issues in the community and host events throughout the area. From job fairs to fundraisers, the Blueprint is trying to reach its goal of making a difference in town.
Dr. Barbra Van Dahlen, founder and president of the Give an Hour nonprofit organization praised the blueprint members on their hard work and efforts.
“We are here to talk about what we have done and where this community is headed,” said Van Dahlen as she addressed the audience.
Pictures were displayed and a presentation of all the Blueprint had accomplished over the past two years was shared. The panel members explained why they are a part of this organization and gave personal accounts of how their efforts are making a difference.
“At the end of the day, it is really just us, helping us,” said Sonny Kelly, director of Operations and Programs for Fayetteville Urban Ministries, a military veteran, and to military spouse.
“We need to take care of each other,” said Kelly. “This is a way to do that.”
Kelly said that even though his church helps others in need, he felt he needed to do more for the veterans, so he became a part of the blueprint Council.
“When you are helping someone in uniform, you are helping your community,” said Kelly. “They are going to get out of the military, and they will be your nurse or your provider. We need to make sure we are taking care of them.”
Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, was a speaker at the town hall and explained the various programs Fort Bragg offers Soldiers, veterans and Family members. He provided detailed information about each program and also addressed the importance of community involvement.
“We all know what is happening with the budget,” said Anderson. “If it wasn’t for volunteers, Fort Bragg wouldn’t function and we know that. The question now is, how can we do it better?”
The town hall ended with a question and answer portion.
A few questions were asked but mostly praise was given to the members of Blueprint and to Give an Hour.
“I think that letting the people interact with the Fort Bragg general and ask questions speaks a lot for this community,” said Van Dahlen. “It was great to hear all of the efforts happening on base and to talk about how we can move forward.”
FTCC donated the room for the town hall, and the master of ceremonies Gilbert Baez, a veteran and former news broadcaster, volunteered his time.
Van Dahlen said that it is people and good deeds like this that make the organization possible.
“From the efforts on base, to the state representatives, to the people in this town, everyone has been willing to do what it takes to take care of each other and that’s what makes this work,” said Van Dahlen. “I’ve been so impressed and truly touched from the support we are receiving in the Fayetteville community. We are going to keep everyone focused and keep moving forward with progress but tonight, we were here to celebrate just how far we have come.”