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Cryer Center: ‘A dream come true’

by Larry S. Chowning

Take a video tour of the new Cryer Center. Just press play! If the video stops frequently due to poor connection, hit pause and let it buffer to 100% before resuming.
“It’s an amazing day, isn’t it!” exclaimed Hands Across Middlesex president Penny Lawson to an audience of over 300 people attending the grand opening of The Cryer Center last Sunday.

Lawson paused for a moment and, with noticeable emotion, said, “It’s a dream come true and beyond our comprehension!”

For so many Middlesex volunteers who have worked hard to provide a helping hand to those in need, the new Cryer Center on Route 33 near Topping will provide an “amazing” base of operations, said Lawson. 

For years, volunteers of Hands Across Middlesex and Habitat for Humanity have held organization meetings around a kitchen table in a private home or church; kept clothing and furniture for the needy in a leaky old metal building with no heat or air-conditioning; and stored materials for Habitat homes in private facilities throughout the county. Now, there will be one central location for all activities—in a modern facility.

The new Cryer Center, which is owned by Hands Across Middlesex and Habitat for Humanity-Middlesex, will house offices and supplies for several community service organizations. David and Linda Cryer of the Urbanna area donated all of the funds for the building, fixtures, furniture, computers and other supplies inside the facility, which is appropriately named “The Cryer Center.”

State Delegate Harvey Morgan recognizes the community spirit of Middlesex County, and Penny Lawson presents a plaque to David and Linda Cryer in honor of their generosity.
At Sunday’s dedication, Habitat for Humanity president Lyle Predmore thanked the Cryers in his opening prayer. “Lord we are especially grateful for your servants, Linda and David Cryer. We come together to celebrate the gift that they have shared with us with this structure,” said Predmore. “Lord make their example be an example to each of us. They are an example of sharing talents, abilities and resources. Challenge each of us to join them by making a contribution of our own God-given gifts.”

First District Congressman Rob Wittman said, “What a great contribution by individuals in a community who see a need. The Cryers are certainly to be commended for their efforts, but also everyone else who seizes the need to help other people in need.

“There is no higher calling than helping others in their time of need, and I believe efforts like this are a window into the souls of our community,” continued Rep. Wittman. “As I look around here today at the people here, I see the heart and soul of this community. A facility like this will truly help others in their direst time of need.”

State Delegate Harvey Morgan said, “What a sensational day this is and what a rare opportunity this is for so many people who desperately need help. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be here on this occasion and to see our county move in this direction.”

U.S. Senator Mark Warner was unable to attend because of the death of his mother. However, a representative from his office read a letter from Warner.

“This is a great occasion for Middlesex County and Virginia. In times like these, communities are often the only family that some people have,” he wrote. “Your ability to serve anyone in need or crisis without cost has provided an important resource to help improve the lives of others. Your dedication and hard work are a testament to the pride you take in your community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The Cryers were presented a plaque in recognition of their donation.  “For the last several months, I’ve actually gotten tired of hearing my own name,” said David Cryer. “The real truth of the matter is that the effort it took to build this building for me was in a twist of the wrist to write a check. It was the effort of all the volunteers who have been here every day folding clothes for the needy, building stud walls for a home for a family in need, and people who donate the food. I hope you will consider volunteering, because everyone in this area needs a hand or a helper. Please consider being one of those. We need your help!”

Before and after the program, those attending were given tours of the new facility. Jim Berlinghoff of Topping said, “This facility is incredible!  There’s something wonderful about this county. This new facility is a statement to everyone that we have a caring community.”

Frances Johnston of Hartfield said, “I just can’t believe this building. This truly is a wonderful gift to Middlesex that will have a positive impact on our community for generations.”

In addition to Hands Across Middlesex and Habitat for Humanity-Middlesex, The Cryer Center will be used by The Laurel Shelter for providing emergency services to those in crisis or need; by the American Red Cross for providing help during disasters and personal emergencies; by Court Appointed Special Advocates to provide a voice for children in crisis; by the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic for providing medical care to those without access; and by the Peninsula Center for Independent Living that provides services to individuals with disabilities.

There are rooms in the new facility for a food bank, furniture barn and clothing barn, prom dresses, and a place for young ladies to have their makeup done at prom time.

There are bathrooms and showers for emergency use and everything is handicapped accessible.

As people were leaving the facility, Lawson was seated at the front door shaking her head and saying the same thing she said when she first arrived, “I just can’t believe this. Isn’t it amazing!”

Participating in Sunday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Cryer Center were, from left, Penny Lawson, president of Hands Across Middlesex, Rev. Jim Tinney of the River Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross; Jack Fackler, one of the founders of Hands Across Middlesex; Macey White, a fundraiser for Hands Across Middlesex; Denise Goode, an aide to Senator Mark Warner; Linda and Dave Cryer; Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen Kendall McNamee; Little Miss Spat Katie Brooke; Congressman Rob Wittman; Delegate Harvey Morgan and Mary Ellen Morgan; Sandy Bodenhaner, an aide to Senator Mark Warner; Lyle Predmore, president of Habitat for Humanity; and Donald Fennell of the Peninsula Center for Independent Living. Over 300 people attended the grand opening. (Photo by Tom Hardin)

posted 01.27.2010

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