By Nicole Brodzik
The City of Mound will be open to a one stop shop for those in need starting Nov. 3 when the Grace Family Center has its grand opening.
The new facility is home to the Westonka Food Shelf and Pennywise Thrift Store, and has a meeting room for nonprofits to rent out.
The new Pennywise space has dressing rooms, lots of natural light and plenty of floor space that make it feel like a department store.
With Pennywise and the Westonka Food Shelf in the same building, running errands is easier than ever for patrons and so far, things have been running smoothly in the new building.
The Westonka Food Shelf moved in earlier this month and so far, things have been going better than Food Buyer and Volunteer Michelle Bottenfield said she ever imagined.
“Oh my gosh, it’s been such a blessing,” she said. “One of our first patrons summed it up. She said ‘It’s so beautiful. It makes me feel important.’ That’s exactly what we wanted.”
Over the summer, the food shelf was housed inside a room in Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mound. The new space, which is only a couple hundred feet from OLL, is home to plenty of storage space, including four commercial-sized freezers, which makes Bottenfield’s job much easier.
“We get so many donations, but without the space, I can’t get everything we want or need,” Bottenfield said. “I have so much space now. You have no idea what that means to us.”
The new space has been attracting new patrons, which Bottenfield credits to the more dignified-looking space and the addition of a new shift. Starting in early October, the food shelf started holding Wednesday night hours from 6 to 8 p.m., staffed by students from Crown College. Those extra evening hours mean that working families can still get the help they need without having to take time off.
“A lot of our patrons that are younger are one income families or people working multiple jobs,” Bottenfield said. “We’ve only seen a couple new people coming in on Wednesday’s so far, but I expect it to grow.”
Bottenfield said she sees the Grace Family Center as the epitome of what she loves about Mound and west lakes area.
“All the love, that’s really what it’s about,” she said. “If we can provide service with respect, people feel that. The community really pulls together for each other.”
The Grace Family Center is located at 2443 Commerce Blvd. in Mound. Find more information at http://ourladyofthelake.com/grace-family-center.