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Island Creek Veterans Park getting new dock / July 25, 2018
Island Creek Veterans Park, the handicapped accessible park near Townsville, N.C., is getting a new boat dock thanks to a recent donation from Microsoft.

Vets-on-a-Roll recently received a $20,000 award from the Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund to cover the cost of installing a dock for the pontoon boats used to take disabled and handicapped veterans fishing. These veterans are brought from VA hospitals in Durham, N.C., and Richmond. Some also come from Danville.

The dock will sit at the end of a cement pathway and pad that was poured in 2015, waiting for the day when there was enough money raised to install a four-slip handicapped-accessible dock.

Island Creek is the first barrier-free park built on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ land. The project has been watched closely by the Corps and members of the military who view it as a prototype for similar facilities around the country. Phase one of the park, which opened in 2015, includes poured concrete walkways that gently slope from a covered picnic pavilion to a fishing pier. The fence surrounding the pier is high enough to ensure the safety of those in a wheelchair, yet low enough that they can comfortably fish. Two swinging gates at either side of the pier offer easy access for wheelchair occupants who want to move from the pier onto a docked pontoon boat.

The new dock will be both handicapped accessible and able to accommodate pontoon boats that can hold several electric wheelchairs, which can weigh over 500 pounds each, explained Kent Hudson, chairman of Vets-on-a-Roll.

Veterans from American Legion Post 45 and VFW Post 8163 provide the boats and spend the morning fishing with their fellow veterans, who are handicapped and disabled. After which they return to the park’s picnic shelter for a meal prepared by members of the local American Legion and desserts prepared by women of the ladies auxiliary.

“This is a great project for this community and the surrounding area,” said Kevin Allgood, Vets-on-a-Roll secretary.

Vets-on-a-Roll treasurer Robert Wilkerson added, “I would like to thank Microsoft for their generous donation to the Island Creek Veterans Park handicapped veterans dock fund. This dock will be used to load and unload disabled and handicapped veterans during the fishing trips provided for them by Vets-on-a-Roll, the VFW and American Legion.”

The Microsoft datacenter community development team established a transformational empowerment fund to support community-led and prioritized projects. The Community Empowerment Fund encourages increased collaboration between and among contributors and award recipients. Their approach is to partner with the community to develop local ecosystems of organizations that team together on common community priorities.

Through this approach, they say they hope to achieve long-term, systematic and holistic outcomes in the communities in which they operate.

Making the award, Microsoft officials said they were pleased to partner with Vets-on-a-Roll and support the building of a new boat dock to better serve the disabled veterans who will utilize it. The Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund awards are an important way for the company and its employees to contribute to stronger, more resilient communities.

Vets-on-a-Roll supports recreational therapy outing and facilities for disabled veterans.

It accomplishes its mission by collaborating with a broad variety of community based groups with similar mission statements.

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