LUMBERTON — According to Lumberton Housing Authority and city officials, their first joint-sponsored Fun Day, held Saturday at the Hilton Heights public housing complex in West Lumberton, lived up to its name.
About 350 children and adults attended the event, which offered entertainment, free food, information about programs and opportunities of interest to public housing residents, and lots of giveaways, including supplies that students will need as the new school year begins.
“This is a good turnout from all areas of the city,” said Lumberton Councilman Leon Maynor, whose district includes Hilton Heights. “It’s a good day for this event because it’s hot, but not too hot.”
Jean Stewart, safety and security coordinator for the Housing Authority of the City of Lumberton, was the event’s chief organizer. She said that she considered the event a way of giving something back to the community.
“This is something that can touch lives,” she said. “It’s kind of a vacation for some of those who may not be able to get to places like Disney World … And with school starting, it’s a way to get kids started back in the right direction.”
For more than two hours, police officers, fire fighters and Housing Authority staff and other volunteers mingled with the crowd enjoying food, music dancing, and raffle drawings. At one point, a fire hydrant was opened, allowing water to pour out and cool off young children.
Tonika Billings, from Meadow View Apartments, attended the event with her two children, Ermelle, 4, and Bella, 2.
“This is an awesome event,” she said. “It’s important as residents (of public housing) that we become involved in our community.”
Angela Kallel, a resident of Lumbee Homes, also said that she enjoyed the day’s activities. She was at the event with her three young children.
“When I heard about Fun Day. I decided to attend,” she said. “I figured it would be something for my kids to do.”
Larry Russell, the executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Lumberton, said that the Fun Day was not just for young people, but also adults.
‘We’re trying to create a family atmosphere so that our residents know what we have to offer them,” he said. “We want them to take advantage of opportunities we have to offer.”
Russell said the Housing Authority wants to partner with organizations and agencies in the community that provide services that benefit public housing residents. He said he would like to see the current GED program offered by Robeson Community College at Weaver Court expanded, as well as increase the Housing Authority’s involvement in programs offered by Lumberton-based Two Hawk Employment Services.
Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis said that his administration is 100 percent “in support” of Housing Authority efforts to provide expanded services to public housing residents.
“This is a great event” Davis said. “Fun Day is an excellent way to promote unity in the community. This is just the beginning. We are going to make this an annual event.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.