Out of space, community outreach program asking for city's help

August 06, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Rosanne Phiney faces the same challenges moms everywhere face this time of year. Summer is in its final stretch, the first days of school are upon her and she's got kids to clothe.

Kids that have sprouted up under the summer's rays. Phiney has three sons, 2, 5 and 13; and two daughters, 12 and 14.

She was in the basement of Faith Temple Church on Otter Street Wednesday sifting through clothing at a Community Friends Outreach giveaway.

"With five kids every little bit helps," Phiney said.

Wednesday was one of the last clothes giveaways at the church. The pastor wants the clothes and food out of the basement, which doubles as the fellowship and youth hall, by the end of the month, said Jolene Bailey, a volunteer with the group.


Bailey says that on good authority. She's the pastor.

The group has asked the city for help, but Bailey also has on good authority that it won't happen. City Manager Darrell Blenniss wrote them a letter.

The outreach took over from Bluegrass Community Action three years ago. Once a week the group gives out food. Once a month they give out 100 boxes from God's Pantry at the county fairgrounds.

Donations pour in. There are 10,000 pounds of food collected by postal carriers lined on shelves in the small foyer of the basement. Food is stacked up in the pastor's room. A deep-freeze and boxes of detergent are in the fellowship hall. Clothes are piled up everywhere.

"We're doing our part, but we need some help," Bailey said.

As she talked, a man came up with a bag of clothes and asked if he could get a box of food.

"Sure," she told him.

She filled out paperwork, required by the government, on a desk in the foyer. There is no room for a chair, so she leaned over the desk and asked him questions. When she did, there was no walk space for people to get to the door with their clothes.

"We've outgrown this place," she said.

Blenniss said in his letter that he had looked at city property but couldn't find "any suitable space available."

Seeking to use vacant Save-A-Lot building

The group asked City Commissioners if they could use the vacant Save-A-Lot.

"The city has both short-term and long-term plans for this space and therefore it is unavailable," he wrote. "The City of Danville wishes you well as you seek a suitable location for this service to the community."

He said that he didn't want to have the friends group move in and only have to move out a short time later.

Bailey thinks the city doesn't want to deal with people-in-need here.

"They'll put a quarter-of-a-million in a park, why won't they help us?" she said.

Blenniss told The Advocate that the city commissioners want to put the police department in the old Save-A-Lot until they find a way to finance a new station and city hall. Police Chief Jeff Peek has said that the officers are cramped, sharing a building with the fire and communications staff.

But the city commissioners have not officially voted to renovate or build anything. Blenniss said they reached a consensus to look into the costs of both during a workshop with a consultant about city property.

Bailey said she thinks they ought to come down to her church and see how they help families. There are senior citizens who otherwise might be forced to choose between medicine and food.

"You'd be surprised the people that have to live on $500 a month," she said.

There are two-parent families who worked in factories and were both laid off. Grandparents raising grandchildren. Single moms. The food bank helps these people make ends meet, Bailey said.

There are some who take advantage of the system. When that happens Bailey said they work with other organizations in town to prevent it.

She knows what it's like for struggling families

Bailey said she knows so much about what it's like for struggling families because she's been a single mom.

"When I was a single mom my daughter needed a coat and I had to hock a ring," she said.

The need is even greater this time of year. With school starting there is extra strain and with winter starting people need clothes.

Bailey hopes that someone in the community will come forward to help. Already, Commissioner Chester Kavanaugh has come to the church. The volunteers are hopeful that he will help them find a place.

Find a place to help people like Pearl Roberts and her 42 grandchildren. She helped fold clothes Thursday as she sorted through bags looking for things her grandchildren could wear.

She had 10 children of her own.

"I sure feel sorry for an only child," she said, her eyes sparkling. "I'm the most luckiest woman in the world. I wouldn't trade places with a queen. Of course, I understand they have a lot of work to do."

She picked up a set of fleece feety-pajamas.

"My grandson can wear that," Roberts said. "His daddy's out of work right now."

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