LAURINBURG —There were plenty of smiles and laughter at the first-ever community cookout held Saturday at Tara Village Apartments
Residents say it nice change because the Butler Street apartments have not always been a place where joy has been evident. The 114-unit complex has a troubled history with crime and violence.
But area churches, local agencies and community leaders want to change that and say Saturday’s event may serve as a turning point for the complex. Organizers say the community as well as residents themselves need to see Tara Village in a new light.
“We want Tara Village to become a community of choice, rather than a community that everybody wants to run away from,” said John Walker, the pastor of Beyond the Veil, one of four churches that helped organize Saturday’s cookout.
More than 100 people took part in the free event that included grilled hot dogs, festive music, basketball and balloon animals.
Several agencies such as the Robeson Health Care Corporation, the Scotland County Health Department, Scotland Memorial Hospital, the Scotland County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Restoring Hope Ministries, Word of Life Assembly of God Ministries, and Northview Harvest Ministries were on hand to talk about their services and programs.
“We spread out with all different agencies to come together and arm this community with information and resources,” Walker said. “They hope that by introducing residents to each other and a variety of helpful agencies in the community, the crime will go down in the area and everyone will feel safe.
Members of the Laurinburg Police Department offered finger printing for the kids, while the North Laurinburg Fire Department brought along their famous firehouse Dalmatian, along with their fire engine and a safe house display.
Lt. Richard Snipes of the Laurinburg Police Department said the event appeared to have a positive affect on many of the young people present. Throughout the event, there were young children walking around with an array of balloon animals and flowers, while older kids played basketball or tossed corn-hole bags with police officers.
“If you start something positive young, it’s going to continue and people are going to remember that,” Snipes said. “I hope it helps build trust in the relationship with the police department, it’s like mending fences.
“We’re not just here to help spend time with the kids, we’re here to build relations with the kids in the community.”
The group plans to make the cookout an annual event.
“Look for more, this is just the start of something good,” said Snipes.
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.