This commentary is about the old county jail on Market Street in downtown Wilmington and vision. You see, some people are near-sighted. Those are the people who operate out of fear and are opposed to everything. In this case, the near-sighted people complained that the county sold the building too cheap and they feared the building would become a homeless shelter.
Then there are the far-sighted people, the ones with vision like Pastor Michael Queen and the parishioners of First Baptist Church. At first, they didn't know exactly what this building would become, but they knew it could make a difference in people's lives in a positive way.
Through a generous gift from Bobby Harrelson in memory of his wife, Jo Ann, and the money invested by First Baptist Church to renovate it, the vision is being realized. This 30-year-old dilapidated shell of a building has become the Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center, home to Phoenix Employment Ministry, a non-profit organization that helps its needy clients find meaningful, productive employment. It's also home to Life Transitions, an organization that helps ex-offenders find homes and jobs as they transition back into society and Life Builders, an adult bible study organization. It's the temporary home of The Community Arts Center as its building undergoes renovation, and soon it will become the home of WIRE, the Wilmington youth center for Inspiration, Recreation and Education, a project from Communities in Schools to serve at-risk upper middle and high school students by giving them the tools they need to succeed and help them stay in school.
We should thank the people from First Baptist Church, and the individuals who serve on the board of the Harrelson Center, for their vision. They're turning this building from a place of incarceration to a place of transformation. We need more far-sighted people with vision and fewer near-sighted ones.