CAP Needs Help in Renovating Firehouse for Distribution Center

CAP, the faith-based emergency food nonprofit that serves 30,000 people a year, will be in a new distribution center but needs a lot of help in remodeling the city of Conway’s former main fire station.

Work is under way in the building on Third Avenue, which the city has leased to CAP for $1 a year. Once relocated, CAP will have desperately needed space; however, the former firehouse needs an estimated $60,000 in remodeling, including extensive work on the front of the building and in the large bay where fire trucks awaited the next alarm bell.

The huge bay doors will be replaced with a new front and entrance. Single-pane windows must be replaced. Inside, the huge bay will be converted into three large rooms for clients, the food pantry and a receiving area at the back of the building. The ceiling will be lowered to 11 feet. Framing is in place for walls separating the three areas.

The receiving area also will serve as a temporary shelter in cold weather emergencies. The area chapter of the American Red Cross has cots and blankets at the location, CAP director Gail LaSalle noted Tuesday on a tour of the building. In fact, the building housed homeless people during a cold spell this past winter.

The city police and fire departments moved to a handsome new headquarters building on Ninth Avenue.

Half of the former “Conway police front desk will be our front desk,” LaSalle says.

The police counter has been cut in half. Clients will be assigned a number and wait while a food order is filled in the pantry, then brought to the counter and a client’s number called.

Now, in the CAP building at 206 Main St., clients have a tiny waiting room.

“We’re just cramped,” says pantry manager Priscilla Cooper, standing with volunteers, a variety of food just delivered and an assortment of freezers.

The Main Street building has been the CAP – Churches Assisting People – center for 13 years. CAP has the space rent-free, but the owner of the building wishes to sell and the nonprofit plainly needs more room.

“We have to get this done – as soon as possible,” LaSalle says.

She says CAP needs to move to its new location in June.

LaSalle estimates remodeling the firehouse will cost a minimum of $60,000. CAP has raised about $25,000, including a most generous $10,000 contribution. Needs include a new heating and air conditioning system, efficient windows, a kitchen sink and faucet and new commercial-type freezers. Pantry shelves will be moved by Santee Cooper volunteers.

“We don’t need new and fancy,” LaSalle says.

Money is what CAP mostly needs, to finance the necessary renovations. She would like to secure a loan soon to keep the reconstruction moving while she and CAP board members continue to raise money.

“We’re not good at raising money. We don’t like to ask for money.”

CAP started in a couple of rooms of St. Paul’s church in 1984. When LaSalle became the director 19 years ago, CAP typically served about 10 families a day. Now volunteers see as many as 100 a day. The nonprofit provides 267,000 meals a year to 30,000 people. It also helps with rent payments. CAP is supported by 30 churches, with 15 being consistent contributors.

The city of Conway certainly has its corporate heart in the right place in making the building available to CAP. Perhaps the city and a couple of the churches could underwrite or guarantee a construction loan.

Rooms along the sides of the bay will be used basically “as is” for offices and a conference room. The area will be used for Sunday meetings of The Society of Friends, which has been meeting in the CAP center.

The former firehouse kitchen required some work beyond cleaning. On Tuesday, LaSalle admired a counter and cabinets installed over the weekend by a Conway firm, describing them as “Miracle No. 1.”

She and CAP volunteers and board members are hoping for a few more miracles to complete the new center.

[hed]How to help

CAP in Conway needs $35,000 to $40,000 to complete renovation of the former fire station on Third Avenue. Specific needs include a heating and air conditioning system and fundraising assistance. Checks may be mailed to:

206 Main St.

Conway SC 29526

Phone | 843-488-2277

Online | www.capconway.org

Email | capconway@sccoast.net