GraceWorks holds Growing in Grace capital campaign
By Carole Robinson
“God commands us to take care of the poor.” - Tina Edwards, GraceWorks executive director, GraceWorks holds Growing in Grace capital campaign
GraceWorks Ministries began in 1995 when several area churches realized pulling their resources was a more effective way to help people in Williamson County in need of a leg up. For the first time in its 18 years, the faith-based non-profit organization is embarking on a capital campaign with a “miracle” goal of $6 million to purchase land and build a permanent home, with room for the growth that has already taken place and space for the future.
“The Growing in Grace building campaign will enable us to broaden our call to faithfully minister to the poor,” said Tina Edwards, GraceWorks executive director.
GraceWorks strives to meet both basic physical, emotional and spiritual needs to those who have suddenly come upon hard times, from events such as the recent floods and tornados, and the economic downturn, as well as the chronically poor, GraceWorks also assists senior citizens who are alone with access to care and healthcare.
Ninety percent of all donations now go to the clients, but Edwards believes that number can grow to 92 percent or more if GraceWorks owned its own space.
The face of Williamson County has changed in the past five years and GraceWorks has seen 100 percent to 300 percent growth in programs and needs, she said. In 2010, 4,235 families were served at a cost of $1,341,782, including food, shelter housing and utilities. In 2012 5,406 families were served at a cost of $2,002,414.
Every year GraceWorks borrows space for the Christmas Manger program and the annual backpack back to school program. The Food Pantry has expanded to include Fuel Bags – prepared and easy-to-prepare food sent home with 550 school-age children each weekend.
“We have 5,500 kids eligible but we only have space to help 550,” Edwards said. “It takes space to distribute 500,000 pounds of food. Williamson County is really taking care of its own and we feel it will continue to take care of its own.”
It increasingly more difficult for GraceWorks to meet the needs of the community in its current location, however the lease on the warehouse they have been renting on Southeast Parkway ends soon, making this the opportune time to make a change, Edwards said.
Board members have their eyes on a piece of property at the end of Southeast Parkway large enough to build a facility that will meet the organization’s needs for many years and allow for future growth.
Rent money could be put back into the community and the clients who need assistance if we owned our own facility and programs could be expanded, like providing education that equips people to exit poverty, Edwards said.
The addition of new programs does not mean GraceWorks is straying from the original mission of providing basic emergency needs like assistance with utilities, food and housing, rather it is reaching out to teach people to be proactive.
Exiting poverty strategies that include basic budgeting, English as a second language, citizenship lessons, jobs for life skills, parenting skills, resume and interview skills will help the poor get past where they got stopped in life, Edwards said. Growth and space has limited the ability to add such programs.
“Many people take for granted what they know and assume everyone knows it,” Edwards said. “The middle class learns skills from their parents and relatives that aren’t always taught to kids at the lower-income level, whose families live day to day in crisis mode just trying to survive.”
“God commands us to take care of the poor,” Edwards said.
GraceWorks’ new focus is to meet the unmet needs within the community, but to be successful; it needs to meet its own unmet needs.
Posted on: 6/6/2013