NEWTON GROVE — While holding a bow, Pamela Gonzalez smiled as a large bumble bee held a pair of scissors. During a ribbon cutting, the snip represented a new era for Sampson County’s domestic violence prevention program.
The Bee Hive Thrift Store and volunteers from U Care, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of a new location at 306 Main St. in the town’s Circle Plaza. It was previously located at 301 Weeks Circle St., opening in the early-2000s. Proceeds from the store support U Care, which aids sexual assault victims. Gonzalez, executive director for U Care, said the store was named the Bee Hive in honor of the women and men who escape abuse.
“Bees are not supposed to fly, but they do,” Gonzalez said about the complex method of bees flying. “Our survivors are beaten down and told that they’re never going to make it. The store is in honor of anyone told they were not going to survive.”
Kaitlin Norris, executive director of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, said the organization loves to see businesses grow and expand.
“We’re always happy to support them,” Norris said. “A lot of people don’t realize how much it’s needed until they’re in that situation or until they volunteer. It’s wonderful thing they do and it’s a benefit in the community.”
U Care outgrew the previous location and wanted more of a visible presence. In the plaza, the store is operating out of the abandoned Movie Gallery, near Food Lion and Family Dollar. So far, the old sign is attached to the building, but Gonzalez plans to move it soon.
“It’s going to be lit up in big letters,” she said about having the Bee Hive sign soon.
Store Manager Teresa Williams hopes to get more business and traffic. It’s one of two stores in Sampson County. The other one is located in Clinton. It was opened in 1999.
“I hope they come in and shop and come back again,” Williams about the new location.
All of the proceeds stay in Sampson County, so clients can shop for free anonymously. As a former domestic violence victim, Gonzalez remembered the feelings of seeking charity, which was belittling.
“I was a proud person and I did not want people to know what I was going through,” Gonzalez said. “I try to make it where at our stores, they don’t have to tell someone something unless they want to tell them.”
Pastor Bernistine Royal led a prayer during the ribbon cutting and discussed a family member who was a victim of domestic violence. U Care helped her through the troubles.
“I’m thankful and grateful for the ministry put here in Newton Grove,” Royal said.
Volunteers began moving a couple of weeks ago and took about five days to move everything.
“That’s because of the volunteers,” Gonzalez said. “If we didn’t have that manpower, it would probably take us a month to move in.”
Volunteer Jaquita Wilson believes the store is in a great location and hopes it brings more dollars to U Care.
“The people in this area are ready to shop,” Wilson said.
Wanda Jones, of the Bee Hive, feels the same way.
“It’s really good for the community to have a place like this,” Jones said. “In a small town, we’re very fortunate to have something like it. And the fact that people are willing to bring in donations is great.”
The store is operating from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Donations are accepted at the store and the Clinton location, 308 College St. At the Newton Grove location, donations may be placed in a drop box after the store is closed. Larger furnishings must be left during business hours.
For more information about U Care, Inc. visit www.ucaredv.org.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.