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Dinner raises money, highlights impact of local community center

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Guests mingle and enjoy BBQ during Dinner on the Grounds, a fundraiser held Sunday at the Third Street Education Center.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Monday, May 20, 2019

Barbecue and redemption were the central themes on Sunday as hundreds gathered at the Third Street Education Center during its annual Dinner on the Grounds.

The event — which featured a barbecue dinner and talk by North Carolina pitmaster, writer and food critic Bob Garner — celebrated the center’s impact on young men in the community. 

Garner has a personal connection to the center, he told the crowd, sharing  how it has impacted the life of his son, Everett. 

Before becoming the head of catering at center’s Third Street Catering business, Everett battled through substance abuse and addiction, Garner said. More often than not, it was their shared love of cooking that broughtEverett and his father together.

Prior to working at the center, Everett spent years working in restaurants where he was consistently exposed to drugs. Once he left rehab, he swore he’d never work in a kitchen again.  

What made the difference at Third Street Education Center was the work environment, according to Garner.  

The education center strives to be a nurturing home where young men can change their lives while also receiving moral and spiritual support.

“I just have been so captivated by the whole idea of educating young men under the power of the gospel to become loving fathers, husbands and community leaders,” he said.

Like barbecue, the redemption and Everett’s subsequent recovery has been a slow and tedious process requiring patience, love and a healthy dose of faith, Garner said.

“Barbecue has always been the food of celebration in North Carolina,” Garner said. “I’m personally convinced they are talking about BBQ in the Bible when they say, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’”

He also mentioned just how successful the catering business at the center is.  

“I learned so much more since Everett came back in March,” Garner said. “They have gotten lots and lots of catering jobs to the point where it’s almost too much for the manpower that they have right now.

Lead volunteer Reagan Howell, who also co-chaired the event, said Dinner on the Grounds comes down to uniting the community. 

“At the end of the day, community is everything,” Howell said. 

Nathan White, who serves as director of the center, was overwhelmed by the amount of support shown by local residents and hopes the event can showcase the great work going on at Third Street Education Center. 

“The purpose of tonight is to gain the family of people around Third Street and to help make that bigger,” White said. 

The center, in addition to its academy, also provides employment opportunities through its landscaping, home repair and catering businesses.  

Last year, revenues from the landscaping and home repair businesses funded the salary of a teacher at the center.  

“Everybody has a part to play at Third Street,” White said. “We are excited about celebrating as a common family, knowing that God is at work in everyone’s life and we want to help people uncover that.”

“There’s so many opportunities for them to touch people’s lives in a very positive way. I feel like this has been a real feast of celebration and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you,” Garner said.  

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