As 2021 comes to a close, the Grayson County Alliance is looking ahead to the start of its next major project: the renovation of the Alliance food pantry.

The Alliance is currently raising funds for the estimated $175,000 renovation of the food pantry, which, officials say, will allow the non-profit organization to create a classroom space within a teaching kitchen and expand its capacity to advise and mentor clients with its food and tax programs, as well as offer referrals.

“This renovation project is in line with our vision to feed our community, teach life skills, and empower family stability,” Grayson County Alliance Executive Director Debbie Childress said. “It is the next healthy step for the growth of the Alliance as a non-profit.”

According to Childress, in 2019, the Alliance board and team envisioned the renovation, but were forced to delay it as the Alliance’s focus shifted to a COVID-19 response in March of 2020.

“In the past two years, we have learned a lot from the demands placed on our agency,” she said. “Our current configuration of the warehouse and lack of sufficient heat or air is limiting our ability to effectively help in this next season.”

With that in mind, Childress said that creating an environment conducive to learning and mentoring will be an important part of what the Alliance hopes to do next.

“We will be able to expand our informational and educational opportunities with the addition of a teaching kitchen/classroom,” she said, adding that the new layout of the client side of services will also enable the Alliance to expand its free tax filing program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).

After the renovation, the Alliance plans to offer its food pantry clients and VITA clients financial literacy classes and one-to-one coaching.

“Connecting our clients to additional services while they are at the food pantry is a priority for GCA,” said Childress. “Having a dedicated space for community partners to meet with individuals at the food pantry will be an excellent way to further this referral service.”

According to Childress, the Alliance’s board will meet in mid-January to discuss final project details, and the project is expected to begin as soon as possible; though the start of some portions will be determined based upon how much funding the Alliance has obtained. A tentative completion timeframe has been set for early fall 2022.

“This entire renovation project will help us grow and focus our efforts toward overcoming the other issues of poverty in Grayson County,” said Childress. “The Alliance has faithfully served our community for the past 21 years, and this project assures that we are here to serve for many more years.”

For more information about the Grayson County Alliance, visit gc-alliance.com.

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