Saturday, February 24, 2018

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Nonprofit to open food closet in Chippewa Falls

Legacy Community Center leases downtown property to provide food, counseling

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    The nonprofit Legacy Community Center has leased a downtown Chippewa Falls property to open a food closet to provide food and counseling services to homeless individuals.

    Staff file photo

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CHIPPEWA FALLS — Agencies and organizations that help the homeless and people in poverty in Chippewa Falls are scattered across the city, in a variety of locations.

However, a new nonprofit agency called the Legacy Community Center has leased a downtown building with the goal of providing an emergency food closet and counseling services for those in need.

The Legacy Community Center has signed a lease for 26 W. Grand Ave. in downtown Chippewa Falls. 

It is roughly 2,500 square feet, featuring nine rooms plus the pantry.

Dave Gordon, LCC president, said the goal is to have the food closet open later this month or early February and have the rest of the services up and running by spring.

“Right now, people wander around until they get to the right agency,” Gordon said. “They go to two or three places, then quit. I envision that someone who needs help comes in and sits down with a counselor, or trained volunteer, and it is essentially an intake. The object is that when you leave the Legacy Community Center, you have a next step.”

Gordon stressed the building will offer an emergency food “closet,” meaning it will provide nonperishable items but not refrigerated or frozen foods. The plan is to have it open Saturdays.

The Rev. Paul Oppedahl, who serves on the LCC committee, is excited to have a building of their own.

“We’ve got skin in the game, and we want to see ourselves succeed,” Oppedahl said. “A big emphasis is they can experience the human dignity they deserve. They can come in and get the help they need, and they can leave knowing the next step to take.”

Oppedahl said that poverty levels in Chippewa County are high,and the need for help is greater than it should be.

“There are pretty significant levels — a good 10 percent of the county is below what a family of four needs to sustain itself,” Oppedahl said.

The idea for the LCC has been in the works for several years. Originally, the plan was to construct a facility at the corner of North Bridge Street and Birch Street. 

Gordon said his goal was to build a two-story, 20,000-square-foot center costing perhaps $2 million. Annual operation costs would have added another $100,000.

“It was just too big to start with,” Gordon said. “This became an alternative plan.”

When the LCC board learned that the West Grand Avenue space was available — it used to house a phsyical therapy business — the board quickly signed a lease. 

He noted it is near important services, from the courthouse to a grocery store, to churches that provide Agnes Table free meals and the Open Door Free Clinic.

“The board said, ‘We can’t pass that up.’ It’s an ideal location,” Gordon said.

In recent weeks, Mayo Clinic donated furniture.

“We’ve had computers and a phone system donated,” he said.

Gordon said long-term plans would be to possibly move Agnes Table meals into their building.

Gordon was involved in the discussions of how to continue helping people in poverty after the sudden closure of Starting Points on Feb. 14, 2014. 

He said his nonprofit group wants to house organizations that are filling the void after Starting Points ended. The LCC got its nonprofit status in 2014.

“We are trying to do some of the things they did,” Gordon said. “This is something that will help people who need help.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer with the organization or find out more may contact Gordon at 715-222-1170 or visit legacycommunitycenter.org

Contact: 715-723-0303, chris.vetter@ecpc.com


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