By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Efforts are underway to help build a better home for the Agape Centre in Cornwall and the services it provides.
© Frank Burelle
Giving these stairs to the Agape Centre's Thrift Store entrance an overhaul is part of the food bank's upcoming building campaign Within These Walls.
The city's largest food bank and only soup kitchen is launching its Within These Walls building campaign at the Navy Club (30 Sixth Street East) on Thursday, September 4, from 7-8:30 a.m.
"Over the past three years, we have seen a 30 per cent increase in requests for food assistance," said Alyssa Blais, executive director of the Agape Centre. "Our building has deteriorated due to the upsurge and itâ€™s not OK."
There's a long list of desperately needed infrastructure repairs.
Representatives were told that their heating system made it through its last winter earlier this year, the bathrooms also have no diaper changing stations forcing parents to use the floor, and the entrance stairway is severely rusted and on the verge of becoming a safety issue.
The Agape Centre Board of Directors, staff and volunteers have looked at the pros and cons of moving to a different location.
They conducted a feasibility study as well as received expert advice from local commercial realtors.
"The cost of moving to a new location, whether it is a lease, build or buy, far outweighs the cost of staying," said Blais. "This facility provides a vital physical location from which we are able to receive more than 500 visits a day and serve our residents through the services that are hosted within our walls."
Top reasons for staying in the current location at 40 Fifth Street West include access to Cornwall transit, ample parking, central location, 27,000 square feet of floor space, established customer base, and several amenities built for Agapeâ€™s needs: dock, freight elevator, commercial kitchen, and six bathrooms.
"The kick-off to this building campaign will give attendees a rare inside look at how hunger affects those in our community," said Blais.
The capital building campaign's target fundraising goal will be unveiled at the breakfast launch.
The event's guest speaker Sheila Burnett started working with the poor in 1983 and recently finished her 30th year at Ottawa's Shepherds of Good Hope.
The public can purchase tickets ($20) or RSVP by contacting Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org and (613) 938-9297.