When Onslow Community Outreach purchased its Hargett Street location, the nonprofit’s leaders saw more than a building.
Executive Director Theo McClammy said that when clients come to them for a meal at the soup kitchen, a bed at the homeless shelter or health care at the Caring Community Clinic, they have immediate needs and OCO is often the first place they have come to for help.
“We’re like a first responder agency because when they come to us they are in crisis; they need help right now,” McClammy said. “They need employment, they need counseling, they need to be stabilized.”
Onslow Community Outreach stands ready to help but has one major challenge: lack of space.
That is where the Hargett Street location – the old Piggly Wiggly in the New River area of Jacksonville – comes into play.
As McClammy stands inside the soon-to-be renovated 27,000-square-foot building, he points to the future space for each of the programs. First up will be the 5,000-square-foot area dedicated for the homeless shelter and housing program.
On the opposite side of the building will be a large space that will be used for Christmas Cheer and serve as a flexible space for events such as the annual Community Thanksgiving or other functions and activities supporting services to the community.
McClammy said there is also space for training and for bringing in community resources such as employment or assistance programs.
“It is more than a building,” he said.
As a three-phase renovation is implemented, the administrative offices, soup kitchen and all programs now located in OCO’s Court Street location will move to the Hargett Street location.
McClammy said they look forward to being able to serve more clients.
The homeless shelter, for instance will grow from serving a maximum of 26 people, with one family room to having space for 50 beds and four family rooms. The soup kitchen will move later but will have a commercial kitchen and large dining area for a more personal atmosphere.
Equally important, said McClammy, is the additional space to accommodate volunteers.
While they can use only 15 volunteers a day at the soup kitchen due to lack of space, the new location will allow for about 40 volunteers.
“We’ll have space to accommodate more volunteers and that is very important for a nonprofit,” he said.
The outreach program started in 1990 with the soup kitchen, added the homeless shelter in 1994, and in 1999 expanded to include the Caring Community Clinic. Most recently it started a free dental clinic.
The new focus is getting moved into the Hargett Street location.
But before that can begin, the organization needs to retire the debt and take ownership of the building so that it can focus on renovations, said OCO Board of Directors Chairman Don Herring.
“It is a journey, and paying off the building is a first step in that journey,” Herring said.
The goal is to launch housing and shelter services in the building by 2020.
Onslow Community Outreach announced at its annual meeting the start of its Changing Lives Onslow campaign to raise about $500,000 by the end of the year to pay off the debt from the purchase of the building at 1210 Hargett St. so that renovations for Phase 1 of the project can begin.
“It is the most significant and ambitious capital campaign the outreach has ever had and once it is completed it is going to be a big achievement,” Herring said.
Community members can donate as always by visiting the current administrative offices on Court Street or by making a donation online at onslowco.org.
Anyone can stop by a Wells Fargo bank branch in Onslow County to make a donation to the Onslow Community Outreach building fund. Those who donate $1,000 or more will have their names placed on a brick for the new facility.
Sponsorship and naming opportunities are also available by contacting the organization.
For more information, contact Onslow Community Outreach at 910-455-5733.