Haywood's prison makeover is on a roll
Some may say the stars are lining up in Haywood County for a community project to turn the former Hazelwood prison into a halfway house, an emergency shelter and a soup kitchen to become a possibility.
Others call what’s happening with the project divine intervention.
Among that crowd is Nick Honerkamp, the senior pastor at New Covenant Church who heads the Haywood Christian Emergency Shelter and is spearheading fundraising efforts for the project.
Honerkamp is certain God is guiding the path to success on this endeavor. A quick look at Haywood’s meteoric rise to the top of a national contest to bring Extreme Makeover television star Ty Pennington on board is a case in point.
In just four days of voting, Haywood’s project catapulted to the top of the 238 applications for a $50,000 award, plus the help of Pennington’s crew for a day. What was so amazing was that the Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge actually began on March 25. Haywood’s project wasn’t entered until May 23, and took the lead in online voting with record speed.
While online votes are only part of the criteria (20 percent) to be selected, it is the only aspect that can be influenced by the community. The worthiness of the project is another 50 percent and the soundness of the business plan and partnerships makes up the rest. With local government, the faith community and nonprofit and educational agencies banding together on the Haywood project, it truly stands a chance of being selected.
“I want to just knock this out of the ballpark,” Honerkamp said of efforts to gain online votes and thereby demonstrate support for the project.
If Haywood’s project is selected as one of the top 50, there will be another round of voting, this time based on a video. The top six projects will be selected from the 50, with runners up garnering up to $10,000 and the winner taking home the grand prize of $50,000, plus plenty of help — and priceless publicity.
Honerkamp and others working on this project are convinced it is one that can change the community. The project is part of a bolder movement to eradicate poverty in the county by creating jobs and starting social enterprises — businesses that serve the greater good.
Thanks to all the 1,500 folks who have already made a spectacular point to those at Guranteed Rate’s Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge — Haywood County is unified and ready to stand as a model of how other communities can work together for change.
The voting ends June 9, so for those who haven’t already voted, click here.
Then please follow the project carefully over the next several months. There will be other points where the community will need to stick together to hit a home run.