'Open minds open doors': Pair have vision of bringing safe youth space to Fayetteville neighborhood

Michael Perchick Image
Friday, August 18, 2023
Humble building could soon become safe space for Fayetteville youth
Carl Pringle foresees that the property, which will be called 'Uncle Carl's Safe Space', will include computers, a gaming area, food pantry, and more.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Carl Pringle walks around the vacant property on the corner of Gavins Street and Andy Street in Fayetteville, he's not dismayed by the boarded-up windows. In fact, he sees an opportunity.

"I call it a blank canvas," Pringle said.

The home, in the Bonnie Doone neighborhood, is near the often-busy Bragg Boulevard. Despite that, Pringle said opportunities for young people are lacking.

"This area is too far for any kid that wants to go to Colleges Lake (Recreation Center) or Smith Recreation Center. (It's) too far to go to Westover (Recreation Center). So any kids that's over here that may need a positive, they're stuck," Pringle said.

Pringle foresees that the property, which will be called 'Uncle Carl's Safe Space', will include computers, a gaming area, a clothing closet, a food pantry, and a kitchen. Known for his Flip Flop BBQ Sauce, Pringle plans to offer culinary lessons.

He even wants youngsters to learn from the renovation process.

"A vision I have is say we're doing the drywall, the painting, the plumbing. To have a young person or someone who may be interested in learning, watching. So they can maybe see drywall isn't that bad, plumbing isn't that bad. Then I have connections with Fayetteville Tech to maybe help them get in a program," said Pringle.

Pringle is teaming up with Tony Brown, the CEO and founder of the nonprofit group Southern CC Inc., which is providing the property for the project.

"We wanted to clean up the community. Me being a soldier from Fort Bragg, I always said my contract says foreign and domestic. So even though I could fight overseas and liberate people, I feel like I could do that in my own community," Brown explained.

The pair plan to open a community garden as part of a separate endeavor, a project which will also be free to children. Both men pointed to their upbringing in hopes of serving as role models for others.

"I'm 45, so I'm born in the '70s. So when my mother had to work, I had to stay at my neighbor's house," Brown said. "You see what I'm saying? So we need to bring that back where it takes a village to raise a child. Now these kids are coming home from school and they wandering the streets. They're not going to the neighbor's house. So we create that love and that community essence, then a lot of things will change."

"It's very important. I do it because someone saved me," Pringle said. "Someone helped me out. I come from a single-parent home. I had a couple of coaches that took me outside of my neighborhood. I'm from Washington, D.C. and they took me outside of D.C. to run track, to see different things, to run in different places. I always tell people an open mind opens doors."

Pringle hopes to open up by late 2023, to make the building available to those in need when temperatures need during White Flag shelter nights.