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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2004

Delta: Open Door scrambles to help county's needy

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Volunteers are renovating a former grocery store that is used for Open Door's thrift shop. Volunteers are renovating a former grocery store that is used for Open Door's thrift shop.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

DELTA - As construction work continues on the second phase of the Open Door of Delta project, volunteers are scrambling to find funds to keep the doors open.

"We're fulfilling our plans, but we are coming to the end of our funds. We need money pretty quick," said Dick Beehner who was instrumental in the creation of the Open Door, a nonprofit organization that operates a thrift shop in a former grocery store at Palmwood and Monroe streets.

Volunteers are renovating the building into permanent space for the thrift shop as well as a community room; youth center; kitchen, and office space for Delta Outreach, a community group that provides financial assistance to needy people, and for Hands of Grace, a nonprofit agency that provides services to Fulton County residents who are elderly, frail, and/or disabled.

"We are looking for donations and we are applying for grants," said Mr. Beehner, president of the Open Door nonprofit group. About $25,000 is needed as soon as possible to help pay for furnaces to heat the building. "If we had $25,000, we would be in good shape. We need heat before winter," he said. Additional funds will be needed to pay for electrical work and other remodeling expenses.

Each of the four furnaces costs about $10,000, said Gary Baker, Open Door's treasurer, who noted that so far, all of the labor for renovation work has been donated by volunteers from Delta and surrounding areas.

Many churches and organizations are involved in the project, and about 80-100 names are on the list of volunteers who are willing to help with a variety of tasks, including staffing the thrift shop, the revenue-producing agent for Open Door that opened May 1.

Volunteers work 3 1/2 days on the remodeling work and then clean up areas so the thrift shop can be open for business Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Plans call for the thrift shop to be open five days a week when the renovation is completed.

Customers don't seem to mind. "We are getting people from far away places" at the thrift shop, Mr. Beehner said. "The word is out."

The shortage of money is the Open Door's "first real crisis," said Mr. Beehner, but he is optimistic that supporters will pull together and try harder to make sure the project doesn't come to a "screeching halt."

Open Door has a three-year lease with option to purchase the former grocery store. Don Eicher of Delta donated the use of his building for a year. In January, Open Door is to start paying $1,000 a month for use of the building. Mr. Baker said that officials should know by the end of this year whether Open Door could afford to purchase the building.

Open Door has obtained a $34,000 community development block grant through the Fulton County commissioners to pay for construction of handicap accessible rest rooms. Remodeling costs for the building, including the new rest rooms, has been estimated at $200,000.



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