The Annex opens across from The Caring Place
Two visionary women, three bags of used clothing, four volunteers, eleven local churches, and $17.00 planted the seeds that grew into today’s The Caring Place (TCP) to help families in crisis. In 1985, twenty-eight years ago, Georgetown’s economy faced serious problems; people in need had few resources besides government agencies or church-to-church quests for canned goods or a few dollars for gasoline. Yoli Branson and Marty Maxwell envisioned a single assistance site, supported by the community, so they approached the Georgetown Ministerial Alliance. Reverend Tim van Antwerp from Christ Lutheran and Reverend David Duncan of First Presbyterian led in organizing other pastors and volunteers. Lay members from each participating church and other community leaders formed a governing board. Mayor Carl Doering offered a former slaughterhouse on 8th Street as a site, and the tiny seedling took root.
Nurtured by sweat, planning, and commitment, TCP was “transplanted” several times as it grew. After four years in Industrial Park North, TCP thrived at 2001 Railroad Street from 1990 until 2004, squeezing ever more client services into 6,700 square feet. Next, a new TCP building blossomed across the street, yet it too expanded in 2005 and again in 2011, to more than 28,000 square feet. Then 2001 Railroad Street came on the market, and TCP’s Board of Directors took decisive action to grow once more with a “new-old” facility. Renovation plans were finalized, walls were reconfigured and painted, and The Annex became operational in September.
Redesigned with three spacious meeting rooms and ten offices, The Annex provides a safe, comfortable place for additional outreach. There’s storage for seasonal decorations and for tools used by TCP’s home repair program. There are fifty more parking spots. The familiar location offers easy access to clients. Prior to opening The Annex, TCP leadership hosted a community-wide meeting with other nonprofits, inviting partnerships that can broaden the base for new programming. Twenty-eight different organizations came. Six offices are available to outside partners so that clients don’t have to travel around town for information and consultation. As Yoli and Marty did when they first envisioned TCP, current TCP leaders understand how strength increases when talent and resources unite for healthy growth.
TCP has planned a new self-sufficiency education program called SOAR (Success Through Opportunity and Resources) that will operate from The Annex. Classes in financial planning, job-seeking skills, and parenting will be offered to families that exhibit personal initiative. John Stock, TCP executive director from 2009 until his recent retirement, visualized “building assets for ‘what it takes to get there’ on a journey toward economic stability.” Additional space, now available, was a necessary component for this program to take root.
At least for now, TCP has more breathing room. Over thirty member organizations now make up the Advisory Council. Ginna O’Connor, TCP’s new executive director, stands ready to help carry the vision forward. The Annex, as carefully crafted as the bonsai cedar out front, forms the newest branch at The Caring Place to welcome the community. It’s all good.