Board of directors accepted donation in August
The dream of a new and expanded Help Center begin to become a reality. The Help Center board of directors accepted the donation at the August meeting.
The land is being donated by Alan and Susan Atkins of Mexico and Wes and Anne Atkins Williams of Columbia. The 1.032 lot is located at the intersection of Fairground and West Liberty streets.
"The donation of this land is a wonderful gesture from a family of Mexico natives," John Dial, president of the Help Center Board of Directors, said. "We are deeply appreciative of this donation, which will allow us to not only serve the clients in Mexico better, but also offer services to the area as a regional distribution center for The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri."
The members of the board have been searching for a solution to the crowded conditions at the existing Help Center building. The 3,500 square foot building at 716 E. Breckenridge is rented from the Mexico Housing Authority, and is inadequate for the services offered.
The new Help Center will also include enough space to become a regional distribution center for the Food Bank in Columbia. Bids for construction of the building will be sent out later this fall.
Preliminary plans call for a 4,000 sq. foot building for office space, local food distribution and the thrift store. The storage facility is expected to be approximately 11,800 sq. feet, with both buildings being under the same roof.
In February, the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri (TFB) organized an advisory board in Audrain County. Laura White Erdel, former Mexico resident, is the liaison for TFB and the Audrain Food Bank Advisory Board (AFBAB).
"The additional space for the Help Center is essential in meeting the supplemental needs of our food insecure friends and neighbors. I'm very excited so many people are banding together to alleviate hunger in Audrain Country," Erdel said. "The success of this project is vital in improving the lives of so many. I am certain this dream will become a reality because the generosity and spirit of the people of Mexico are second to none."
Committee members took on the task of finding a new home for the Help Center, and will eventually seek financial help in building and maintaining a new facility.
Members of AFBAB on the Site Committee looked at several existing structures, which they hoped to repurpose. However, with the donation of land, building a new facility became a reality.
Advisory Board members plan to share their vision with area residents, and will be launching a capital campaign for monetary donations along with donations of labor and materials in the future.
The main service of the Help Center is the distribution of food to needy people in Mexico and other parts of Audrain County. Currently, food is distributed two-three times a month at the Help Center, and once each month at the First Presbyterian Church and at the Second Missionary Baptist Church from mobile food trucks.
Moving to a larger facility will bring all food distribution under one roof. The other services of the Help Center, such as the thrift store and Adopt-a-Child holiday program, also will be expanded in the new building.
"We are very excited about the generous donation of land, and the upcoming community support opportunities," Gary Jones, director of the Help Center said. "The Site Committee looked at so many places that each had its ups and downs. To have a new facility is very exciting."
Jones took over as director one year ago. "It's hard to believe the community support the Help Center has received in the last 12 months," he said. "There has been an over-abundance of donations of food and other items, and this donation of land is a dream come true."