A building that once saw life as a print shop and taxi service has found new life as Good Samaritan Ministries’ Donation Center.
The building, at 200 W. Chandler, is behind Main Street Car Wash and near Good Samaritan Ministries’ facility on Clark Street. The Donation Center opened last week and includes a covered drive-through bay where the big blue containers for donated items are located.
That takes the containers away from the outside of the Clark Street facility and creates a safer and weather-friendly space for those donating the items as well as volunteers and staff.
Drivers would sometimes stop cars in the middle of the street to unload items for donation, creating safety issues, Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) Executive Director Leesa Stephens said.
The volume of donations each day also covered the sidewalk, creating problems for pedestrians, Stephens said.
Opening the Donation Center was a matter of being good stewards, Stephens said.
Inside the donation center, Becky Warren, who was recently hired to organize and manage the donation center, has sorted and organized the items. Most of those items will end up in Good Samaritan Ministries’ Resale Store.
GSM has owned the building that now houses the Donation Center for 13 years and previously used it for storage.
But thanks to the generosity of Brown County residents who donate items, the volume of donations had increased, creating the need for additional space to accept and process donations, Stephens said.
“When I first started here about four years ago, this building was the black hole of anything,” Stephens said. “Any time somebody didn’t know what to do with something, they just brought it over here and they dumped it. Last summer we began the renovation process.”
Tunnell Construction was the contractor for the renovations, which were paid for from the GSM building savings fund, Stephens said. She said GSM has been making a payment to its building fund since competing a major renovation of the Clark Street facility in 2009.
“People in this county donate things to us and they entrust us, whether it’s food or money or whatever,” Stephens said.
A year ago, the GSM board looked at the building that now houses the Donation Center. “They agreed that the size of the space didn’t lend itself to moving the resale store,” Stephens said.
“We already knew had a problem with all of the donations out on the sidewalk. “We said ‘that’s not being a good neighbor to the downtown Brownwood people. How can we better use this building (and) clean up that sidewalk.’ The idea to turn this into our donation center was born.
“Now instead of leaving things on the sidewalk, you have a place where you can drop them out of the weather.”
Warren, who was hired to manage the Donation Center last month, had been a GSM volunteer for 2 1/2 years.
“She walked in one day and said ‘God told me I hold apply so here I am,’” Stephens said.
She said the interior space consisted of “a big, dusty, dirty, messy room that nobody was doing anything with. ”Becky is getting it organized. “Everything you see in here was either out on the sidewalk on any given day or packed up in totes.”
Warren, busy sorting through items, said going through the donations is “sort of like Christmas every day.”
The Donation Center has the same hours as other GSM offices and the Resale Store: 1-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. After-hours donations can still be placed in the blue boxes.