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Menu changed, but the purpose is the same

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Kathy McNeilly presents a $1,000 check to Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg from the Mt. Vernon Community Club.

For decades the Mt. Vernon Community Club has hosted its popular mouth-watering, delicious country ham and chicken pie suppers. In addition to the fellowship of the people, proceeds from the supper were given to various nonprofits and groups in the area.

Saturday, February 10, the menu is changing, but count on the spirit and the fellowship being the same, perhaps better.

For the first time since Covid, folks arriving for Saturday night's supper will be able to dine inside the clubhouse or there will be plates to go.

It is a perfect evening to take a Valentine's sweetheart to a fundraising dinner as the weekend jumpstarts the holiday.

Saturday evening's meal will be a delicious meal of spaghetti, bread, salad, homemade dessert and tea.

Volunteer Emma Walker said in addition to the Covid rules, the price of food has increased and the suppers became more challenging. She said just to break even on buying country ham, at least 70 plates of ham had to be bought, and that didn't count all other costs. That meant much more work, additional costs and less money going back into the community.

Walker and Kathy McNeilly have been volunteering at the suppers for a long time, as well as others across the community. They sat down recently and talked about the history of the club and where it stands today. Believing in its motto for 66 years, "Let's do good while we can" club members will be there to work Saturday night and for years to come.

"Please come and enjoy a great meal and give back to the community," Emma said.

During the meal Hudlow Fire Department will set up a table if anyone would like to get a reflection 911 address sign for a donation of their choice.

Its history

In 1957 the community club began from a dream of the Mt. Vernon Home Demonstration Club. For a number of years, their desire was to see a clubhouse built to be used for community and charitable purposes.

In January 1959 the men of the community were invited to attend a meeting at the Mt. Vernon School to discuss the plan and they agreed a clubhouse was needed. Walker said the entire community united to make this dream come true.

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church donated the land for the clubhouse and Mt. Hebron Methodist Church gave water rights from their parsonage well to supply water to the clubhouse. Members of the community gave lumber, labor and money towards the construction of the building. Mt. Vernon School FFA provided the wood and installed the wood paneling and cabinets that are still there today.

A major player in making all of this possible was H. D. Dillingham, who was instrumental in the planning and organization of the work required to make this dream come true.

Fundraisers paid for construction of the building in the 1960s. At that time either chicken or country ham suppers were held Saturday nights to pay their debt of $7,500 to construct the facility.

In 1962 the club members planted 1/2 to 3/4 acres in half-runner green beans to serve at the fundraising meals. Volunteers picked 25 bushels of beans and canned 704 quarts of beans for the dinners. A ham plate was $1.25 and $1 for chicken. The club was debt free in 1965 thanks to a lot of hard work, commitment, planning and support by the community.

Through the years there have been a number of organizations that fell under the umbrella of the Mt. Vernon Community Club: Boy Scout Troop 143, Girl Scout Troop, A and One 4H Club, Mt. Vernon Home Demonstration Club, Mt. Vernon Homemakers Club.

The group that currently represents Mt. Vernon Community Club was organized in 2011 originally from a group of Mt. Vernon Baptist church members who were looking for a way to send a youth group to Canada on a mission trip. A ham and chicken pie supper appeared to be a great way to raise those needed funds and the clubhouse was the perfect place to carry on that tradition.

In 2018 there was a celebration to recognize those who have carried the torch to keep the lights burning at Mt. Vernon Community Club for 60 years.

Because Mt. Vernon Community Club does not qualify as a 501C3 organization there are not a lot of opportunities for grants, but much appreciation goes to the Rutherford County Community Project Grant program that awarded the club $1,000 for each year between 2014 and 2019. The grants were matched by $1,000 each year with matching funds by the Mt. Vernon Community Club. There were also grants totaling $900 provided by the NC Cooperative Extension Office - these funds were used to purchase a window A/C and install new LED lights.

Traditionally there were four suppers each year at the clubhouse but the last dine-in was in November 2019 before Covid. During 2020-2023, there were two suppers each year. Depending on the success of the spaghetti suppers will determine the number of fundraising suppers each year, Emma explained.

During the past 12 years, the club has given approximately $20,000 back to the community by financially supporting Mt. Vernon Ruth School, Hudlow Fire Department, Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, Hospice, Mt. Hebron Methodist Church and Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.

The club has also given back in other ways such as doing appreciation meals for the Mt. Vernon Ruth teachers, Hudlow firefighters and the gas pipeline workers that were in the county several years ago. There have also been times when the club members helped individuals financially in times of need.

The clubhouse is also rented for various community events and that has helped to sustain the clubhouse financially. For the past 60 years, the Logan family has rented the clubhouse for the annual reunions.

Recently there was a presentation of $1,000 to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department and another $1,000 was given to Hudlow Fire Department. There are plans to donate $500 to Out of the Ashes as they recover from fire damage to their facility.

Mt. Vernon Community Club members are grateful to all who supported the ham and chicken pie fundraisers and also the renting of the facility.

The members feel that the clubhouse should be "a place where the community can gather and celebrate the precious moments of life".

Gather Saturday night and enjoy one another's company - and a good dish of spaghetti with trimmings.

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