By Mary Elizabeth Dial, Staff Correspondent
The Etowah Baptist Mission Center has begun raising funds to purchase a fourth building in Gadsden. The charitable organization, which was born 30 years ago in one North 27th Street building, has outgrown the three structures it currently inhabits and is seeking to renovate a currently unoccupied building on the same street.
Mission center workers already have ideas for what the new building will house when it is completed, including a nursery, administrative offices and a new chapel. The move will relieve some strain on the existing mission center buildings by increasing the space available for administration work.
The move will also allow the existing chapel to be enlarged and made into a minimart-style food pantry, replacing the mission center’s current method of food relief. Rather than receiving food supplies that have been pre-chosen by mission center workers, clients will be able to visit the food pantry and “shop” for themselves and their families. This is one way the mission center is attempting to, as Director Karen Lee said, “restore dignity” to its clients.
Another intended use for the new building is as classroom space, where the mission center intends to offer literacy lessons, English courses for non-native speakers, and career preparation classes. These courses are a part of the mission center’s objective to help clients take steps towards permanent relief. Rather than simply treating the symptoms of poverty, these classes are evidence of a desire to address its causes.
The mission center aims to “educate [clients] more, so that they know how to prepare a résumé, go out on job interviews, know how to dress, know how to speak so that they can obtain jobs,” according to Lee.
“The brokenness and hopeless we see is challenging,” the mission center states in its promotional materials. “We strive, through providing for these physical needs, to share hope and restore dignity to each individual we help.”
To earn the funds to purchase and renovate the new building, the mission center has begun a capital campaign with the local Baptist churches with which it has existing partnerships. The campaign, as currently planned, will continue until November. The mission center expects that churches and individuals will fill the its fundraising goal of $100,000 through single gifts and long-term commitments.
The mission center plans to recognize those who make larger donations within the building itself. Donations of certain predetermined amounts will be on the “Wall of Gratitude” inside the complex. The mission center plans to honor especially significant donations by naming rooms and wings of the building after benefactors.
Mission center leaders hope to see the community support their efforts to improve Etowah County. By starting this capital campaign, they intend to give the public the opportunity to invest in local outreach.
“We need to pull together as one,” Lee said, summing up the Baptist Mission Center’s ultimate goal. Through this enlargement of its facility the Etowah Baptist Mission Center is actively bringing its community together through charity, education and support.