HAMLET — Jo Jenkins spent the majority of her life working at several hospitals in North and South Carolina.
“I used to put people to sleep before their operations,” she said. “I was the only one in Richmond County.”
But after 55 years in her field, Jenkins has changed her life to offer “something Hamlet doesn’t have.”
“It’s called Lakeside Venue,” she said. “Hamlet doesn’t have a casual meeting place – until now.”
The venue will welcome reunions, receptions, holiday parties, and gatherings of family and friends.
“I saw the building and I went for it,” Jenkins said, remembering when she started to pursue the building two years ago. Jenkins said she made several offers for the building before the owners came around 3½ months later to ask whether she still were interested.
“It’s been on ever since,” she said, laughing.
City Clerk Gail Strickland said she remembered when Jenkins appeared before City Council to apply for a special-use permit for the building.
“She wanted to preserve the essence of the old VFW facility and the residents of Hamlet who served,” Strickland said.
The use of the building — in terms of holding parties or receptions — wasn’t listed by the city’s zoning ordinance, Strickland said, so Jenkins had to win approval for a special use.
Two years later — and after and much hard work and many donations — Jenkins is preparing her building for an open house this weekend. She said she couldn’t wait to see people’s reactions.
“I’d like to think it will bring the community closer … to have their special events and remember parts of history,” she said.
Jenkins said it was important to her to remember what the building used to be. It’s the former VFW Post 7314, which closed in 2014 as the result of declining membership.
She displays around the building war memorabilia she and a friend found in a box left after the building was shut down, as well as from donations by Hamlet residents.
“History is very important to our daily actions, and we should preserve as much as we can,” she said.
Open house will be 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23 in building off Boyd Lake Road.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]