Nine years after a devastating train accident released poisonous chlorine gas that caused the deaths of nine people, the Aiken County community of Graniteville is seeing triumph rise from tragedy with Monday’s opening of Christ Central Ministries Hope Center for entry-level job training.
Among those attending the grand opening was Governor Nikki Haley.
“When I look at this Hope Center, this is exactly what we want to see here in South Carolina,” she said. “How do you lift people up to a whole level so they can do for themselves? That is what this is all about.”
The center features a culinary arts school, nursing assistant training, along with other courses. Carpentry and forklift operation classes will also be held in the facility. The center is located in a building that was once considered unable to be occupied after the train crash.
The estimated cost of the building’s renovation is $876,000. Program leaders say only half of that amount has been spent so far, thanks to volunteer labor. Haley says a true dollar amount can’t be placed on the rewards people receive from volunteering their time and talent.
“If you have an hour a day that you might be sitting on the couch watching TV, how about if you gave that hour and helped a neighbor that you may or may not know?” She told those gathered at the ceremony.
Nearly 75 percent of the building has been completed. When fully operational the building will have a mentoring wing for at risk elementary school pupils. The center will also feature a medical services area, where people can receive health screenings, eye examinations, and dental treatments.
Christ Central Ministries is an all-volunteer, cross-denominational Christian organization.