MJ Help Center celebrates permanent facility
After over three decades of operation, the Mt. Juliet Help Center finally has a permanent home of their own.
For years they occupied temporary facilities, bounced around and had hard times of their own, but they managed to successfully lend a hand, and assistance, to those in need.
Saturday was a huge day for the center, one they've waited 32 years to celebrate.
Stakeholders, supporters, board members, volunteers and some community members applauded this long-awaited accomplishment with a private ribbon cutting and meet and greet at their new, brick-and-mortar building at 3425 Mt. Juliet Road, next to Celebration Lutheran Church.
"This is a fulfillment of our dream," Center Board President Bob Carrizzo said. "We are elated, and for 32 years the Board put away money for our building fund."
Through the years there have been numerous fund raisers and donations for a permanent building.
The center has provided quality, short-term emergency assistance to needy community members out of all sorts of facilities through the years. The current Billy Goat Café building was once a temporary site, as well as a double-wide, and most recently they operated out of the former Chief Rental building that Environmental Science let them use.
Celebration Lutheran Church Pastor Howard Mettee explained their church donated the land next to the church for the permanent building.
Center Director Carolyn Smith said their space has doubled to 2,400 square feet. She's been the director for seven years and has watched their family-base grow each year.
"Last year we served 1,394 families," Smith said.
She said as of June this year, they had served 654 families.
"We have been very frugal all these years to save money for our permanent home," Smith noted.
They have about 20 steady volunteers to help disperse food and run the center. Charlene Foutch is a dependable volunteer and sits on the board.
"It's been a community effort to get to this place," she said. "We give away food and help at times with utilities."
There is a registration process to prove need, and clients can request food assistance six times a year from the pantry that includes canned goods, frozen foods and perishable items.
Along with limited utility assistance, the center provides assistance in finding community aid and information is areas such as homelessness, disabilities and domestic abuse. They also offer gently used clothing, bread and bakery items while supplies last.
"We also appreciate any leftover garden vegetables people may want to donate," Smith said.
Victory Baptist Pastor Chuck Groover was on had at the grand opening and stood next to two huge refrigerators that store perishables.
"This is the culmination of a lot of work and the history dates back to 1982," Groover said. "It's gotten back to the original intent and the churches help out."
His church has a weekly food drive where parishioners (there's 1,100 members) bring along a food item to Sunday church.
"Last year we donated about 1,400 pounds of food to the center," Groover said. "We are ramping up again and excited about it."
Victory's Benevolent Committee works a lot with the center.
Current needed items include flour, sugar, jelly, crackers, canned fruit, canned soup and tomatoes, canned kidney, pinto, chili and baked beans.
For more information call 615-754-4357.
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at email@example.com.