Location, location, location.
It’s a watchword for real estate, and one of the key components for the new home of United Methodist Open Door ministries in Wichita, the largest food bank in south-central Kansas.
Open Door, which opened in 1965 as United Methodist Urban Ministry, recently moved its food operations from its former home in downtown Wichita to 2130 E. 21st St. in Wichita, which puts it onto public transportation lines and in a cul-de-sac with the Boys and Girls Club and The Opportunity Project’s Early Learning Center, a day care and preschool for low-income families.
“We’re sitting very nicely,” Open Door executive director Deann Smith said May 15 at the new facility’s open house. “The other building was not on bus transit. Now there is a bus stop literally here in front.”
Open Door's shelter and used clothing operations remain in downtown Wichita.
With its new neighbors, “we hope to meet and have conversations about how we can work together with each other’s clients,” Smith added.
It also puts Open Door within blocks of Wichita State University, which will help both low-income students and students wanting to volunteer for community service.
The new facility is about 24,000 square feet, compared to the 14,000-15,000 square feet it had at its food locations on Moseley Street in downtown Wichita.
A former training facility for Cessna Aircraft, the building was opened thanks to a $2.75 million capital campaign that included financial support from Textron, Cargill, the Kansas Health Foundation and the Mabee Foundation.
“We called upon many of our city’s great corporations, and they gave us unbelievable response and support,” board member Steve Martens said.
Open Door provides two food programs – a community food ministry, a food box program that provides nutritionally balanced, emergency food assistance; and the commodity supplemental food program, a monthly food box for items provided by the USDA for income-eligible individuals 60 and older.
The new location is also the home of the Head to Toe Hygiene Pantry, which provides personal items that are not covered by government aid programs.
Jeremy Kindy, Open Door development director, said the new location is more inviting and less intimidating for those in need.
“The biggest thing is people swallowing their pride and coming in here for the first time,” Kindy said. “The hardest thing to do is to ask for help. I’m hoping by this central location that people will feel welcomed and can come in here and get the things they need.”
Smith said that about 24,000 individuals are served by Open Door, which reached a height of 34,000 at the peak of the 2008 recession.
“We’re very thankful that’s coming down,” she added. “We’d love to work ourselves down to where there wasn’t any more poverty. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.”
Smith said the capital campaign, Open Door’s second in 10 years, will give way to more strategic planning for the organization’s future.
“We’re going to take a moment to breathe and celebrate and then go back to the drawing board,” she said.
Contact David Burke, communications coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.