GraceWorks will hold ‘Live at The Franklin Theatre’ tonight as part of their capital campaign to raise funds for a new facility to accommodate the organization’s growth. Board Member Bob Rudman (left) and Kristi Sylvester, development director, met at the theatre yesterday to finalize details for the event that will draw at least 200 people. Tickets are still available. Kerri Bartlett
The holiday season marks the busiest time of year for Susan Reagan, food pantry director for GraceWorks.
Williamson County parents who have fallen on hard times flock to the aging building on Southeast Parkway in Franklin to gather food for their families, many in emergency situations.
Although the community rallies behind those in need during peak holiday times, Reagan worries about where she will store the increased donations.
“It’s like the pig in the python. There is a huge bulge in donations during the holidays, but we don’t have proper storage for some items year round,” she said. “We are trying to collect more perishable items. There is a direct correlation between poverty and obesity, and we want to give healthier options.”
Reagan said that electrical circuits are maxed out with no capacity for additional refrigerators and the food pantry lacks air conditioning. “It hurts our efficiency,” she said.
“It killed me that I had to throw away $21,000 worth of grits because we cannot store grains during the summer because it got too warm.”
The situation reflects the many ongoing needs of the organization that has operated out of the same building since 1995. Like a living breathing thing, GraceWorks has grown over the decades and now feels the intense growing pains, coupled with a growth in donations as well as increased need in the community.
Executive director Tina Edwards, along with the board of directors, embarked upon the organization’s first capital campaign this summer, aptly named Growing in Grace.
The campaign was designed to help raise money for the construction of a 40,000-square-foot new building just down the street from its current location adjacent to Brightstone. An option to purchase the land has moved forward, but it is contingent on raising the needed funds.
Three highly respected Williamson County natives are rallying to assist GraceWorks in achieving their capital goals. Tandy Rice, Jimmy Gentry and Calvin LeHew have banned together as part of the Campaign Leadership Team.
“Growing up during the Depression without a daddy and with multiple siblings, there were many times there would be a knock at the door and food stacks and staples deposited on the front porch would be our only source of food, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have eaten that day,” Jimmy Gentry said. “That memory motivates me to actively support GraceWorks as it continues its outreach to Williamson County.”
The campaign’s largest fundraising event to date, “Live at the Franklin Theatre,” will take place Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. to benefit GraceWorks.
Thus far, a little over 200 guests are projected to attend, but tickets are still available, according to GraceWorks board member Bob Rudman.
General admission tickets begin at $35. Balcony seats are $100 with cabaret seating at $500.
Two renowned show stoppers will take center stage, both acts bring in talent locals may personally know.
The band Soul Incision (a group of healthcare executives turned performers) plays a blend of oldies, Motown, Disco and Funk from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
2Country4Nashville, a classic country male/female duo featuring Franklin’s own LeAnne (Smith) Ulmer, sing the songs that made Music City famous. Ulmer is a Williamson County native herself—Franklin High School Class of ’84.
The entertainment reflects the benefit—local folks supporting a charity for locals.
WAKM’s Tom Lawrence will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening. Sponsors of the event include Renasant Bank, Synergy Bank, Jackson Life Insurance, Impact Stewardship and Edward Jones.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.franklintheatre.com or by calling the box office at the Franklin Theatre at 615-538-2076.
Family needs swell
“If people come out to tour our facilities and see how the operation exists, then they will see the need for expansion and the growing need in the community,” Rudman said.
GraceWorks has helped families over 25,000 times this year through their wide range of services including food, shelter, clothes, transportation and medical assistance.
Last year, about 5,400 families received emergency assistance to fulfill their most basic needs, while this year the number of those served for emergencies has risen to over 7,500 families. The food pantry gives about $1 million worth of items each year to the hungry.
“We’ve never had a capital campaign before, but now we are growing and have more needs,” Rudman said.
“People in Williamson County don’t realize the need. We have the homeless, people who are retiring who lost their 401k’s, and we have families who have never been in a financial crisis, who have to work through many emotions when they walk through the door to ask for help.”
“We have rented the building for 17 years, and we have outgrown it,” Rudman said. “We need more space to accommodate our 200 volunteers.”
The organization’s rent costs about $150,000 a year and increases incrementally. The owner lives in Texas.
“The need in the community is a reality,” Edwards said. “We know that most of the community knows about GraceWorks. This is an opportunity for people to come out for a great concert and be entertained and informed about the needs in the community and what we need to meet those needs more efficiently and effectively.”