When people need assistance, whether it be for food or for clothes in Audrain County, they go to the Laura Miller George Help Center. The facility originally opened its 15,000 square foot facility June 2014. Through generous donations, The Help Center is now able to expand its facility by 7,000 square feet.
Exterior construction is about halfway complete. The new addition is expected to open by February, said The Help Center Executive Director Phillip Iman. While the facility is being built, The Help Center also is conducting a fundraising campaign, he said.
“The addition is to our thrift store warehouse,” he said. “The thrift store is so well supported by the community that we started not having room for everything.”
A discussion to expand happened over a six-month period, Iman said. It will allow for donated items to go through an intake process — where donations can be sorted by size, age group and so on. Once the addition is complete, The Help Center also will take in donations of large furniture items, such as couches or kitchen tables and chairs. The only items The Help Center will not accept are mattresses, Iman said.
As of now, The Help Center is serving as an intermediary for people seeking to donate furniture. People have had to keep furniture donations in their homes until The Help Center can find someone in need of furniture. Once the addition is finished, that will no longer be necessary.
The Help Center’s meeting room also will be moved from the main facility into the addition.
“If (a nonprofit group) holds a meeting at night, I’ve had to stay to close up,” Iman said. “We’ll now be able to rent out keys to the meeting room.”
The old meeting/board room is intended to be converted into sales space for the thrift store.
The Help Center is supported financially through its thrift store as its only continuous source of income, as well as donations from foundations and the public. The center also hosts food distributions from donations it receives and food provided by The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
“People come in every day and donate food to us,” Iman said. “You never know what people are going to donate. Thrift store donations all come from the general public. It’s amazing the amount and quality of stuff people donate. It astounds me every day.”
The Help Center will get a boost Wednesday when the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train rolls into town 4 p.m. at 326 S. Jefferson St. The Help Center will receive a number of gift cards it can then distribute throughout the next year for emergency needs.
“The Help Center Exists to help friends and neighbors in Audrain County. If you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards and we’re moving forward,” Iman said.