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Chamber learns about Better Business Bureau, Hope Abounds 

By Erin Smith

John D’Ambrosio

The Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina addressed the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon. John D’Ambrosio, who works with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), said the BBB is a form of  voluntary self-regulation for businesses.

“We try to advance marketplace trust,” said D’Ambrosio.

The goal of the BBB is to ensure consumers are informed so they can do business with trustworthy businesses. He explained the way the BBB works is a business will ask to join and pay their membership fee, and the BBB will conduct a survey of the business. D’ambrosia said the business will either pass the survey with a grade or it won’t pass. He siad if a business race an “F” grade on the survey, they cannot join the BBB. In order to be an accredited business with the BBB, the company must score either an “A” or “B” grade.

“You can’t pay for your rating like you can with some other company rating systems,” said D’Ambrosio.

When someone wants to become an accredited business, the BBB will investigate. D’Amborsio said they will look at such things as how many complaints does the business have; how do they try to resolve problems; are they licensed for the type of business they are registered to do.

A business cannot join if it has not been in business for six months or longer.

BBB monitors advertising and selling practices and is preparing to start issuing a monthly scam alert. The BBB also promotes consumer and adult education as well as investigating complaints and unethical and biased business practices.

D’Ambrosio said that systemwide, the Better Business Bureau resolved more than one million complaints last year.

Also speaking at the Chamber luncheon was Kim Walloons with Hope Abounds in Wilmington. The program was started by Elizabeth and Kenny Barnes of Wilmington after their daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer and began to attempt to navigate the health care system.

Kim Wellons

Wellons related the Barnes family learned how expensive cancer treatment can be and how difficult it can be sometimes to get assistance. The Barnes started Hope Abounds to help women to navigate the health care system and to help them to receive assistance for such things as paying bills. Wellons said the program also provides patient advocacy.

Wellons said Hope Abounds has added teens and children to their clients. The program provides things such as care bags for moms; Hope bags for women undergoing chemotherapy; educational programs, and call on patients once per week to check on their needs.

Hope Abounds will conduct a fundraiser called “Beach, Boogie and Wine” on Sunday, April 8, at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery from 12:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. The event will feature the sounds of Jim Quick and the Coastline Band and Blackwater Rhythm and Blues. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 if purchased at the gate. To purchase tickets go to HopeAbounds.org.

There are also opportunities to help sponsor the event. To learn about sponsorships, call Penny Mills at 910-297-7688 or Kim Wellons at 919-915-2984.

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