Edgerton Outreach gets funding boost
EDGERTON A $381,000 grant has pushed Edgerton Outreach "into the homeward stretch" in the group's plans to renovate its downtown Edgerton service facility, the executive director announced Monday.
Sarah Williams said Edgerton Outreach is poised to start renovations as early as this fall to convert 6,000 square feet of unused space in the upstairs of the building at 106 S. Main St. into offices, work space and storage.
"It's going to change the whole world for us," Williams said in an interview Monday.
The renovations, including an elevator and stairway work, will "double the useable space" at the food pantry, resale shop and social service center and give more privacy to people who get services at Edgerton Outreach, Williams said.
The grant is through the Rock County Board, which applied for a Community Development Block Grant on Edgerton Outreach's behalf in May, Williams said.
The county announced late last week that it had won the grant, which will match Edgerton Outreach's spending of up to $381,000 for the renovation. The county will officially accept and release the grant money in August, Williams said.
For the last four years, Edgerton Outreach has run a capital campaign to raise $750,000 to renovate the center to add space for storage and offices at the service center, which is in a two-story, 18,000-square-foot former tobacco warehouse.
Edgerton Outreach has operated at the location since the mid-1990s and in 2007 bought the building for $1 from its former owner, the city of Edgerton.
The number of people that Edgerton Outreach serves has mushroomed over the last decade.
Families served by the group's food pantry alone have grown from 30 a week in 2002 to 160 this year, Williams said. Its resale shop alone now does more than $100,000 in business annually.
The squeeze has put piles of donated items almost on top of office areas on the first floor where staff now meets with people seeking services.
"We've been running out of storage space, and the privacy level for our a participants has been nonexistent. It's something we've wanted to change," Williams said.
The grant will allow renovation designs to move to state officials for approval and construction toward a bid phase, Williams said. Work could start by September.
The renovation will create 6,000 square feet in new space for storage of donated food and items for the resale shop and move offices and some work areas for staff upstairs. It will include reconfiguring the downstairs, which now houses the food pantry and the resale shop.
"We'll have adequate space for all areas," Williams said.
The group still must raise about $100,000 to fully match the grant, but Williams said it can move forward with renovation plans now and pursue short-term lending while it continues fundraising over the next year.
The grant is the biggest single financial boost of the campaign, Williams said. She said it became a reality after Madison consultant Cedar Corp. contacted Edgerton Outreach.
Williams said the consultant had read a news story about another of Edgerton's former tobacco warehouses being converted into apartments this spring and offered to help Edgerton Outreach apply for grant funding.
Cedar Corp. wrote the grant application, and the county submitted it in May, Williams said. It was a quick turnaround.
"It's absolutely a prayer answered. I always had faith we'd be able to in some way raise the $750,000. But this truly was the right people, the right place and the right time," Williams said.