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Progress made, but Kennedy Home needs remain

It has been a year since Hurricane Matthew devastated much of Eastern North Carolina –– including Kennedy Home (KH) in Kinston. The storm on October 8, 2016, toppled trees and damaged a number of buildings and cottages leaving $1.5 million of damage in its wake.

Throughout the past year, Kennedy Home continued to serve children and families while in the midst of major repairs and restoration efforts. One year later, there is still major work to be done, but according to KH director Brian Baltzell, spirits remain high.

“There has been an incredible outpouring of support, concern and love,” Baltzell shared. “The amount of debris removed and reconstruction that’s taken place is just incredible.”

Since mid-October of last year, Baltzell, KH staff members and children have seen 6,000 volunteers come onto campus. Some of those workers have come multiple times to help.

“They’ve come every weekend, throughout the week, and even during Christmas,” Baltzell said. “It’s been churches, boy scouts, banks, businesses, and community groups. Many of them came to Kennedy Home for the first time.”

Volunteer help has been critical in removing the debris that flood waters swept onto the campus and cleaning the insides of buildings where water caused substantial damage. Skilled volunteers have assisted with building renovations and tree removal. The volunteer labor has saved thousands upon thousands of dollars.

One of the major projects in process is the repurposing of certain buildings. For example, the food storage building, which was inundated with water ruining its supply of food and damaging the walk-in refrigerator and freezer, is being located to another building that sits higher off the ground.

“This should protect our food supply if there are any future storms,” Baltzell said.

Approximately $500,000 is still needed to tackle some of Kennedy Home’s biggest needs. The new refrigerator and freezer still need to be purchased and installed. The campus electrical system, including poles and transformers, needs upgrading. An additional 20 trees need to be removed. And some campus roads need repairing.

“We are looking for more skilled laborers who are willing to volunteer their services,” Baltzell explained. “We also need volunteers to help us with regular maintenance projects that have been on hold because of hurricane repairs.”

These projects include remodeling eight bathrooms and two kitchens at the children’s cottages which will cost thousands of dollars. Baltzell said if not for financial and volunteer support, none of the projects would be possible.

“It’s been so significant to see the hearts of the people who have come and blessed us.”

To help, call Brian Baltzell at 252-527-4403 or email him at

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