GraceWorks will close all services including its drive-through food pantry this Friday and Saturday.

GraceWorks will reopen our modified service structure again on Monday, May 4, with one change. Starting in May, the previously offered Wednesday evening distribution will be discontinued. Food will still be available from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday. Rent and utility help will be available from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The thrift store and donation center for clothing and home goods will remain closed temporarily.

“The decision to continue our modified services and keep our thrift store and donation center closed was twofold. We want to continue serving protecting our neighbors seeking assistance and staff providing it, and with the incredible increase in demand we have seen for food, we need to dedicate our entire parking lot and more areas of our building to the distribution of food. We are forgoing thrift store income, but we trust in the Lord’s provision and the proven generosity of our amazing community to help us continue this important work,” GraceWorks CEO Valencia A. Breckenridge said.

GraceWorks modified its 15+ programs March 19 to offer only food and rent and utility assistance. Food is distributed through a drive-through system in GraceWorks’ parking lot, where families can get a shopping cart full of perishable and non-perishable food. Staff members in gloves and masks bring out carts and load car trunks without families exiting their vehicles.

Rent and utility assistance, which is GraceWorks’ second most requested service after food, is provided over the phone.

GraceWorks employs 35 staff members. Normally, an average of 260 volunteers help facilitate programs and thrift store weekly. Volunteers were asked to remain home to protect themselves and staff. A few of GraceWorks’ regular weekly volunteers will be returning to help starting in May. They will be adhering to CDC guidelines with staff.

GraceWorks staff, no matter their normal job description – thrift store cashiers, managers, truck drivers, development staff, directors and the CEO – have tirelessly taken over tasks they have never done before. They’re sorting food donations, filling shopping carts, greeting neighbors, answering phones, collecting data and doing what they can to continue GraceWorks’ vital services of food, rent and utility relief.

GraceWorks has had more than double, and sometimes triple, the demand for food. Before the modification, GraceWorks provided food, on average, for 37 families in a seven-hour day. Since the pandemic onset, GraceWorks has served up to 140+ families a day in three-hour sessions. A recent mobile food pantry in Fairview drew a record-breaking 292 families, up from an average 175 families.

Rent and utility assistance requests have also doubled – from 30 requests a month for help to 60 requests a month.

About 60% of families asking for food have never been to GraceWorks for help before.

“These are families who normally live paycheck to paycheck in service industry jobs or jobs that have now been furloughed,” said Alicia Bell, GraceWorks director of development. “However, now even their small savings are gone, and they have incurred debt that will take months to climb out of. GraceWorks will likely be seeing increased demand for our services for the rest of 2020.”

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