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Kids, families the focus for ‘Sports Night Out’

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Before everyone took off to jump in the bounce houses, play volleyball, toss the cornhole bags or rustle up some food, the Rev. Mary Hardin posed a question.

“What is the purpose of a family?” she asked.

The crowd, which had assembled for “Sports Night Out” on the front lawn of Livingstone College Saturday evening, gave her plenty of answers, all of which satisfied Hardin.

Families provide belonging, love, respect and understanding, the people answered.

“You are never left alone as long as you have family,” Hardin said. She explained how there can be both biological and spiritual families, and how “if you can depend on your biological family, you can depend on your spiritual family.”

“You don’t have to solve things by yourself,” Hardin added.

Hardin is cofounder, along with Shirley Holt, of FACT — Families and Communities Together. FACT was formed in 2012 to improve the quality of life for tenants of Zion Hills Apartments.

The apartments are jointly owned by two churches, Soldiers Memorial and Moore’s Chapel AME Zion churches. For the first time Saturday, FACT sponsored its Sports Night Out aimed at bringing families together, starting in the West End.

The evening included many lawn games, mostly for the kids, along with food and refreshments. Adults also were invited into the Livingstone College library to fill out community surveys and sign up for door prizes.

This year, FACT has expanded its reach, partnering with nine other churches, the college, Salisbury Housing Authority, Hood Theological Seminary and AARP of Charlotte. The goal is to reach more people, especially kids and their families.

The FACT mission statement: “To educate, to elevate to a higher standard of living.”

What Hardin was trying to tell those gathered Saturday night was that they are part of bigger spiritual families that make up the community and, as the Rev. Carolyn D. Bratton, pastor of Moore’s Chapel, said, “We want this community to be the greatest community it can be.”

FACT has several other free summer offerings scheduled this year:

• A School/USDA Summer Lunch Program, June 13-August, at Zion Hill Apartments. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. each day for ages 4-17.

• A Reading, Creative Expression & Music Camp, June 27-July 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. each day, at Soldiers Memorial AME Zion Church, 306 N. Church St. Registration is required. Lunch is provided daily for ages pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

• The annual Skills & Drills Basketball Camp fill be held at Livingstone College in July at dates to be announced from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. The camp is for boys and girls ages 9-15. Lunch is provided daily. The camp is free, but registration is required.

FACT focuses on the whole family, Hardin said, with an emphasis on spirituality, education, recreation, mentoring and job preparation.

Other churches involved include Crown in Glory Lutheran, Mount Zion CME, Mount Calvary Holy, First Calvary Baptist, Lilly’s Chapel Church of God, Trinity Presbyterian USA, Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion, New Hope AME Zion and Dorsett Chapel United Church of Christ.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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