“We had plans drawn up several years ago for that piece of the property to see what we could do with it,” said Reba Terry, director of The Caring Place. “Three years down the road we are having second thoughts concerning continued growth on the property.”
Terry is quick to reassure that the organization does not wish to leave the community.
“I believe it would be accurate to say we want to remain in this community in order to serve our folks. We have a lot of people who walk and share rides in this community. If the Lord were to open up another place in this area, then we would certainly want to think about that,” Terry said.
There are currently two buildings on The Caring Place’s sloped property. On the hill rest the organization’s offices, donation site, and free clothes retail unit in a 6,000-square-foot building. The food bank sits below in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse.
The staff of The Caring Place have mastered in space efficiency and thriftiness. Employees work two to an office when possible and additional space is found for food storage. The number of families the organization serves has grown exponentially.
“This has been a crazy week because we were closed last week,” Terry said on Friday. “This is not the norm, but we served 483 families this week. According to our charts, it is not unusual for us to serve 1,500 families in a month — that is 375 a week, so 483 is not that much off.”
A 21,000-square-foot building would be required for the entire current organization to be under one roof, Terry said. The Caring Place would once again be at square one. A building of that size would leave no room for growth. Terry said she believes a structure of 30,000 square feet would be ideal.
“... Tearing down the building was a step forward in terms of the next step for The Caring Place. The money we had to spend to tear it down was kind of like an investment,” Terry said. “We feel the money will come back to us when we place the property on the market.”
According to Terry’s charts, in November 2005 the charity reached the highest number of families it had served up until that time. The Caring Place served 614 families in 2005. The same number can currently be exceeded in two months. By this July, the number of families aided reached 1,337.
A review of the charts reveals a steady increase from 2005 to 2012. In 2008, The Caring Place distributed 5,922 articles of clothing. The number more than doubled to 12,144 in 2009. The numbers increased marginally in 2010 before jumping again to 13,739 in 2011.
According to Terry, the organization served 3,439 families unduplicated in 2011. Over the course of the year 15,607 bags of food were given out.
“One of the things people may not realize about these statistics is an individual may come once a week while a family is allowed two visits,” Terry said. “This means the max number of times available are either 12 or 24. What people may not realize is the average number of visits is 4.7.”
While there are families and individuals who visit every chance they get, Terry said a majority do not.
“The general public seems to think our folks are coming every chance they can. That is just not true. We would not be able to handle those numbers. That would mean we were serving 3,489 families every month,” Terry said.
Terry and the board for The Caring Place are looking to the future. Where the organization will call “home” next is uncertain.
“We want to remain in the community, so if the Lord were to open up another place in this area then we would certainly want to think about that,” Terry said.
The immediate plan is to play it safe and see what will happen.
“When I first came in April 2005 we had to close on a Friday in August because we had no food and only $11 in the bank,” Terry said. “That is the only time we have had to close, but there have been many times we have wondered if we would have enough food. ... Now the food is so full we have had to find racks to stack pallets and [must utilize] additional storage.”
Terry is the first to admit she does not know if or when the organization will move. For now the old lot will be used as a much-desired parking lot. For more information concerning the caring place, visit thecaringplaceonline.org.