As June 30 draws near, the remainder of residents at 100 Brookside Drive in Conway continue to pack up their belongings as they make their transition out of the mobile home community.
Residents at the mobile home park were informed on April 15 by owner Bruce Keathley of Diamond Investment Co., that they would need to vacate the premises by June 30.
City of Hope Outreach and other local nonprofits have been working together with Brookside Village Mobile Home Community residents to help find homes for the nearly 350 individuals who would be displaced by the mobile home park’s closure.
On Tuesday, CoHO Executive Director Phil Fletcher gave the Log Cabin Democrat an update regarding where that process. He said that of the more than 130 households, they still had 35 mobile homes that needed to be moved – 17 of which were scheduled, nine funded but not scheduled and nine left that they had no idea about.
As far as residents go, he said they had five left – one had been funded and four still needed to find a place to live.
In addition, he knew of two specific legal cases that were pending with residents, attorneys working pro bono to make that happen.
Throughout the past couple of months since the vacation notice hit, CoHO and crews have worked tirelessly to help residents with the transition, creating an application process for funds received, seeing cases one-by-one, looking at the needs of every individual.
“We just went one-by-one and looked at each situation, and many times, we had to make phone calls just to clarify some information,” Fletcher said. “From there, we would issue a check to the supplier. The check would go directly to the mover or to the landlord or to the mobile home business.”
He also wanted to stress that 90 percent of the families in Brookside were able to personally contribute to their aid as well, with few exceptions.
“This has not been a ‘woe is me,’ type of situation,” Fletcher said.
Whether it be through the Brookside Family Fund that was set up through First Security Bank, individual donors, help through the Conway Ministry Center and other community aids, at least $38,000 was raised to help.
“Those funds have been very helpful to offset the costs of this situation,” Fletcher said.
At this point, he said, they have about $3,400 left. Fletcher said there’s still work to be done before Sunday, but the volunteer list is dwindling.
“As things come to an end, you have to see it across the finish line,” he said. “It’s also necessary to be mindful that we’re still going to have families up toward the end because of a number of situations.”
One of those being residents still having to work during the day, not able to drop everything, life still moving forward.
“An extra hand can go a long way in helping close this out,” Fletcher said. “I would just encourage people let’s not forget things going on here as June 30 comes to a close.”
As far as his mindset goes, he told the LCD that his focus from the beginning has been on the residents, but as Sunday nears, things are shifting.
“In my head, I have not had the opportunity yet to emotionally process this whole experience because I’ve just been in go-plan mode, execute mode,” Fletcher said.
He recalled one moment during a group meeting at the start where he had to put himself in check, remembering that he was there to provide guidance and direction and insight, and to listen to the residents, putting them first.
“Ultimately, they’re in a very difficult, emotional situation and they need to be heard and listened to,” Fletcher said. “My feelings and my emotions about the matter are secondary.”
As it’s getting closer, he’s starting to feel the true weight of the situation, with every family that leaves the park.
At this point in the conversation, Fletcher started to show his emotion, tearing up a time or two recalling last moments.
“It’s a lot of thank-yous, a lot of God bless yous, it’s crying, … it’s not ‘goodbye, see you later,’” he said. “It’s realizing that things do come to an end, but anything that comes to an end, has a new beginning.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a reaffirmation that at the end of the day, people should be our ‘why.’ What we do is help with education and housing and putting on events and stuff but the why is the people.”
Regardless of what comes next, Fletcher said the memory of Brookside will continue.
“This is not going to be forgotten,” he said. “This community is not going to be forgotten. Whatever comes after this … there were people that lived here. There were people that had birthday parties and just great hangouts, all types of different types of life events that shaped all of us involved.”