“I was sitting here one afternoon, and some donated furniture came,” says Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce Director Paige McKinney, thinking back on the process of renovating the new Chamber of Commerce office. “Very heavy furniture, and I thought, how are we going to get this inside?”
But McKinney didn’t need to worry. “Within twenty minutes of me making just a few phone calls, we had someone from the Town of Mint Hill, someone from Manchester Auto, Phil from Leisure Travel and Patrick from Woof ‘n Hoof. They just showed up! You know you live in a wonderful, tight-knit community when you can reach out to friends and business leaders and they can leave their businesses and come here and help out.”
Stories like this exemplify the process of renovating the new Chamber offices. Previously occupied by a construction company, the new location was just what the Chamber was looking for to house their expanding programming, but the space was in need of a little updating. “We walked through it and we thought could we do this?” says McKinney. “We started vision casting, and then we started reaching out to some of our members, and they got very excited about it with us.”
It’s with vital donations and assistance from Mint Hill businesses and individuals that the new Chamber offices came together. With Barbara and Phil Angelo from Leisure Travel Experts and McKinney’s husband Greg as project managers making sure every detail was accounted for, the renovation was completed in just five weeks’ time. A walk through the new Chamber of Commerce facility is a testament to the individuals and businesses that worked so hard to make it happen.
Rounding the corner from the front room the the board room, you’re immediately greeted with evidence of the donations and volunteer hours that made the space what it is. On the wall opposite the door hangs a sign made by Hinson Designs. “This is a local company in Mint Hill; it’s a husband and wife team, and she grew up in Mint Hill,” says McKinney. “We sent them our logo and they created this piece for us.” The American flag standing in the opposite corner that opens every board meeting was donated by Todd Younkers from State Farm who reached out to see what he could contribute. The boardroom table, the TVs that hang on the walls – they were all donated by chamber members.
“Mint Hill Carpets came and walked this space with us,” says McKinney. “Brad Tart, his dad was originally in the business association, which became the Chamber. He passed away, and Brad said that he wanted to do this project with us to honor his dad and continue his legacy of working with businesses in Mint Hill.” Mint Hill Carpets not only donated the carpet but also the kitchen flooring and the labor to install both. The fresh paint coating the walls comes courtesy of Sherwin Williams. “They donated the paint, they donated the brushes,” says McKinney. “They just kept coming and giving us things!”
As you walk down the hall, you’ll see more evidence of the volunteer efforts that forged this space. Floral arrangements from Abbey Rose Florists grace the front room and McKinney’s office. Artwork from Mint Hill Arts livens up the hallways and the office set aside for junior ambassadors and interns. Mint Hill-specific pieces of art in McKinney’s office and the kitchen were crafted and donated by Kat DePrater from the The Gift Workshop. The extensive shelving in the supply closet comes courtesy of Novant Health, the copy machine from Hendrick Business Systems. “Anytime we were in need of something, it just seemed like our members stepped up and said, ‘What can I do?’” says McKinney.
Truly, it’s difficult to find a space in the new Chamber offices that hasn’t been affected by volunteers. The beautiful custom wood bar in the kitchen is a donation from Tearmann Woodwerks, a local company who also crafted the bar in Mint Hill Roasting Company. The water cooler is a donation from Massage Sanctuary, who also donated a year’s worth of water. Manchester Auto and Suburban Properties, a husband and wife team from Mint Hill, donated the coffee bar and Keurig; Servant’s Heart gifted a microwave.
The courtyard behind the kitchen was landscaped in large part by Matt Schwoebel from Matt’s Lawn Care, who also built a cedar bench and outdoor bar for the space. Sheryl and Tom Smith from the Town of Mint Hill donated a picnic table. These donations help make the courtyard precisely what the Chamber envisioned: a place not only to do projects like painting pumpkins or building scarecrows for Mint Hill events but also a place where business owners can network with one another in a casual environment.
The story of how the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce came together contains story after story of not just donations but volunteer labor that came from unexpected places. The board of directors and Mint Hill’s business leaders and residents showed up time and again to strip wallpaper, pull up carpet, paint and do whatever else needed to be done to make it happen.
“This gentleman, James Rountree,” says McKinney, gesturing to the extensive list of volunteers who aided in the renovation process. “He came in one day, and he said, “Paige, what can I help do today?’ and I said, ‘Do you have any plumbing skills?’ and he said, ‘As a matter of fact I do.’” That afternoon Rountree, a volunteer handyman, completely redid the plumbing in the bathroom.
“This little family here, Anna and Denis,” continues McKinney. “Denis is a nine-year-old boy who needed volunteer hours to get his black belt. His mom called me one day and said, ‘Do you have any volunteer opportunities at the Chamber?’ They came every weekend and after school to volunteer.” Denis became so skilled at renovations that he started training other volunteers by the end of the project!
All the donations and volunteer hours resulted in a space that not only the Chamber’s Board of Directors but the entire Mint Hill Community can be proud of. “They were so generous of their time and their resources,” says McKinney. “You could tell at our grand opening they were very proud of all the work and everything they had accomplished. They knew it was a place that they could be proud of where they could gather.”