food pantry makeover
Excitement filled the air. It was so tangible you could taste it. The Storehouse Food Pantry was being re-dedicated in East Ocean View and our community leaders were on hand for the event.
“The renovation and expansion of the Storehouse brought the best out of this neighborhood. It was an honor to have played a role in it. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when we work together as a community. The storehouse has been changed for the better. It is a sign of the great things to come for this area of East Ocean View. You really had to be there!” said Steve Zollos, Executive Director of Healthy Communities for Bon Secours Health System.
Steve had the opportunity to get to know the leaders of the New Life Christian Center and even lend them a hand as they worked tirelessly to serve the neighborhood. “It’s truly amazing to see how these community leaders continually give to this neighborhood. I really don’t know how they manage to do all they do. Bon Secours decided that if we could help them succeed in their mission, we would be helping the entire community in a very tangible way.”
A completely new structure
Shaun Smith with Designed for Life was the general contractor. Shaun was responsible for the new design of the facility and oversaw every part of the renovation, including the construction of the addition that expanded the structure from 600 square feet to over 900 square feet. Under Shaun’s leadership, the renovation team removed every interior wall, raised the roof, rebuilt the walls to minimize potential flood damage and expanded the kitchen and reception areas. In addition, ODU Theta Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and the Bon Secours chaplains teamed up to built a handicap ramp so everyone can access the facility. In addition Access 1st re-sided the entire building and Operation Blessing built a new deck and play area in the back.
Neighborhood workers hired
“For all practical purposes, it’s a completely new structure,” says Shaun. “We hired five workers from the community to provide employment opportunities to people right here in the neighborhood. We also hired three teens from the neighborhood to help clean up. In the process, they learned new skills such as replacing windows, building temporary support walls, and installing insulation.”
Jose Reyes was Shaun’s lead carpenter, and despite a language barrier, he worked tirelessly, often volunteering his time on Saturdays. Jose helped keep the project on schedule in spite of the cold and snow that shut the entire city down for three days.
One of the local workers hired to help with the renovation had been unemployed and living out of his car with his family. This opportunity allowed him to find a place to live just before the snow and winter weather hit. “Hiring folks from the community turned out to be a blessing for me too,” said Shaun, “I found two exceptional workers here that I have been able to hire on a full time basis.”
Operation Blessing sails into East Ocean View
After the November Nor’easter, flood waters climbed to Hurricane Isabel levels and Operation Blessing sailed into East Ocean View. When they heard what was being done at the storehouse, they jumped in with both feet. “Through our partnership with Operation Blessing, we expanded our vision for the storehouse and for the community at large. We were able to stock the storehouse with food, build a deck on the back, and provide top-of-the-line equipment,” said Pam Phillips, Bon Secours’ Vice President for Missions.
Storehouse ribbon cutting ceremony
Over 100 people turned out for the ribbon cutting, including Michael Kerner, CEO of Bon Secours Hampton Roads and Sister Pat Heath, Senior Vice President of Missions for Bon Secours. Among the other dignitaries attending were Pastor Ken Gerry, Senior Pastor of New Life Christian Center; Pat Robertson, CEO of CBN and Founder of Operation Blessing; Gordon Robertson, President of CBN; Anthony Burford, Norfolk’s Vice Mayor; Thelma Drake, Director of Rail and Public Transportation, Randy Wright, Norfolk City Councilman, and Councilwoman Daun Hester.
420 people turned out for the community grand opening and everyone toured the new facility. Bon Secours provided free health screenings. New Life Christian Center offered prayer and encouragement to all, and Operation Blessing gave away 40,000 pounds of food! It was cold, but the Bon Secours Senior Health buses were there to provide transportation for anyone who needed a ride.
“It was a great day where we fulfilled part of the Sisters of Bon Secours and the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters’ vision. We served the neighborhood, developed new partnerships, and brought our mission and vision to the community. It was a fantastic day and a wonderful project,” concluded Pam Phillips.
Special thanks to everyone who donated time, skills, and materials to help renovate the storehouse food pantry and provided health screenings.
Designed For Life
Operation Blessing International
Access 1st, Inc.
Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center Chaplains
Dave Williams Masonry
Gaddis Heating & Air
Jackie Longworth - Admin Dir., Bon Secours Occupational Health
Jeff Nicolaides - Nursing Student - Tidewater Community College
Kempsville Building Materials
Mark Spivey Consulting
New Life Christian Center Volunteers
ODU Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity
ODU Theta Chi Fraternity
Patty Coco, RN - Charge Nurse Bon Secours OccuMed
Randy Overacre Painting
Sean LeTemp Electrical
Senior Health Volunteers
Bon Secours Healthy Communities Team