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After years of anticipation and months of waiting during construction, FAITH Neighborhood Center (FNC) opened its doors January 3. The FNC broke ground on its new 6,000 square foot facility in Groveland eight months ago.

The looming start of operations in a facility with twice as much space as before has the staff really excited according to its director, Trish Kry.

Many had a chance just before Christmas to operationally check out the building and share their excitement with clients of the center as the FNC held its annual Christmas toy and food giveaway to over 200 families and 600 children. Volunteers at the event included George Rosario, mayor of Groveland, and City Councilwoman Deana Sweatt.

"The staff loved being able to take care of so many people without bumping into or tripping over each other," said Kry, Executive Director of the FNC. She added, "They are looking forward to having the space to more efficiently receive, sort, store, and distribute food items."

The current FNC staff of 50 plus volunteers serve about 700 families in an average month. These families depend on the center to provide direct assistance such as food and clothing as well as assistance in filing for food stamps and Medicaid, and obtaining scholarships for job training programs.

Center leadership is confident the facility's size and capabilities will enable it to support more clients. Layout of the building is designed to provide a user-friendly operating environment for both clients and staff. For example, there will be two client intake rooms to allow staff and clients greater privacy during the registration process.

Kry noted, "The new center has dedicated training rooms for both clients and for the volunteers themselves. In the past, the FNC worked with community partners to offer workshops and skills training. We believe our new facility will enable us to eventually host our own workshops and life skills training programs."

The center expects to offer training in areas such as budgeting, computer training, effective job searching, English as a second language, good nutrition, and healthy habits.

In anticipation of increased operations, the FNC is pumping up its volunteer recruitment efforts. As a result, the center is developing enhanced in-house training for its expanded volunteer pool to standardize service delivery. Leadership hopes that having a new facility will make the center more attractive to volunteers.

With responsibility for its own facility comes a demand for increased operating funds. Consequently, the center will be unveiling a robust fundraising effort that builds on existing support it receives from its usual venues such as churches, businesses, grants, foundations, service organizations, and individuals.

Even though the center had not started operations at the new facility at 14727 Timber Village Road, Groveland, staff got exposed to the potential of the new operating space, when it received a food delivery of 19,222 lbs that included meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fresh fruits on December 14. That delivery set a record for the FNC.

Susan Sherman, an FNC volunteer and member of the Board of Directors said, "This was an all time high delivery for the center." Sherman noted, "Having freezer and chiller rooms enables the center to store and deliver more food. The chiller enables us to deliver more fresh produce, eggs, and milk than we could before."

She added, "It was a timely delivery, because it helped the center get ready to distribute over 200 Christmas dinner food bags on Saturday, December 17. We also handed out Christmas gift bags to over 600 children. Through our event, over 1,400 people had a nice Christmas dinner."

For information about the FNC, contact Kry at 352-429-1200, or visit faithneighborhoodcenter.com.


FNC's new facility helped provide the space for gifts for children over the holidays. But the main focus of the FNC is still providing food for families with over 700 households receiving help each week. (Photo by Stuart Wilson, Mango Tree Arts)
FAITH Neighborhood Center opens its new
facility in Groveland with the start of the new year
FAITH Neighborhood Center
FAITH Neighborhood Center
FAITH Neighborhood Center
Volunteers from the FAITH Neighborhood Center stop for a photo before going back to work helping families over the holidays. More volunteers are needed at the new facility which helps over 700 families each week. (Photo by Stuart Wilson, Mango Tree Arts)
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