By: Laura Collins
The Goldsboro News-Argus

The State Employees’ Credit Union held up its end of the bargain Tuesday when officials handed over a $750,000 check to 3HC for the Kitty Askins Hospice Center expansion.

The center, which is owned by 3HC, is in the midst of an expansion that will add 13,000 square feet to the facility and double its occupancy to 24 beds.

The State Employees’ Credit Union pledged $750,000 to the expansion campaign and agreed to pay it once construction hit the halfway point. The expansion is 57 percent complete. Dean Lee, president and chief executive officer of 3HC, said he appreciates the help.

“It feels great to have the support of the community and in particular the State Employees’ Credit Union,” he said. “We’re excited to partner with (the State Employees’ Credit Union) and provide much-needed service and eliminate the waiting list once and for all. That’s our goal.”

Donna Oldham, vice president of the credit union, and several other employees attended the check presentation.

“It’s humbling and rewarding to have the privilege to participate in something that will mean so much to patients and their families, not just in Wayne County, but in the 16 counties Kitty Askins Hospice serves,” said Ms. Oldham, who is also a member of the fundraising campaign committee.

She added that the funding is actually coming from the members of the credit union through its foundation.

“SECU members have made these funds available by assigning the $1 maintenance fee paid on all checking accounts to the SECU Foundation,” she said.

Lee said the construction on the expansion is expected to be finished Nov. 30 and that the new facility will likely start admitting patients in January 2011. The original opening date was planned for the end of 2010, but was pushed back because of a slow start due to rain.

Kitty Askins received state approval last year to proceed with a plan to double its occupancy. In addition to more rooms, the expansion will also include a chapel and will feature a more homelike atmosphere, including natural lighting, an all-purpose room for volunteer activities and family gatherings and a family kitchen.