Hope Center opens in Graniteville, aims to help community

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WRDW) -- Opportunity is stacking up and doors opening wide, for a community in Graniteville, ready to see more change.

"Having somewhere where they can go and get some direction," said Cori Mitchell who works at the Hope Center.

Those directions led Mitchell to this kitchen, helping teach anyone who wants to learn a little southern hospitality. Everything from a full service kitchen and buffet, to a dentist office...even an eye clinic.

"This is just a great jumping point for most kids in the area," Mitchell said.

"We saw how a community fell so quickly," said South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Back on a cold January night in 2005, this community was shaken. A train derailment spilling toxic chemicals, left Graniteville like a ghost town.

"I do have a lot of friends that were impacted, they worked around this area," said Mitchell. "As a result, they had some health problems."

Businesses shut down, and residents moved away, but the community still held on to hope.

"Look at the strength of the community and how it's risen up," Gov. Haley said.

Less than a decade since that terrible night., today is a stepping stone for what's to come.

"We're going to give them training in nursing, give them their GED's, make sure they go and they have any opportunity to work," Gov. Haley said.

With more businesses like Firestone, already back on the streets of Graniteville, a little hope is all this town needs to get stronger.

"Even though it was such a bad thing, it allowed for change in this community," Mitchell said.

"This is exactly what happens when you have strong community that goes through a challenge and comes out on the other end as survivors," Gov. Haley said.

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