|Land is being acquired for facility|
Staff Photo by Charles Boothe:
Joanne Patterson, director of Stepping Stone Mission, said a new facility will provide more storage space than the current location.
Friday, November 23, 2012
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
A major step is set to be taken on the path to a new home for Stepping Stone Mission.
Joanne Patterson, the mission's director, said a closing is scheduled for next week on land for a new facility in Rocky Mount, 1.2 acres located on West Court Street on the east side of Warren Street.
The mission, which now operates a soup kitchen out of the American Legion building on Diamond Avenue on the west side of town, has raised about $50,000 and the Town of Rocky Mount recently voted to give $10,000 toward the project.
Patterson said the American Legion has been "awesome" in allowing her to operate the mission in that building, and a meal is served every day at noon to feed the hungry.
But the building has a small kitchen and limited storage space, and the demand has continued to rise.
"It's just a fact we need our own place," she said, adding that the mission feeds about 50 people every day.
Patterson said the land being purchased also provides a more centralized location.
"That's important because a lot of people have to walk," she said.
Patterson has been with the mission since its inception in July 2006. A noon meal has been served every day since then, except for three days during a snowstorm two years ago when the parking lot was not accessible.
"We have been truly blessed by the community," she said. "They support this mission."
Other than a small annual stipend from the town, the mission relies solely on donations, and that includes donations of food.
Volunteers come every day to help prepare and serve the meals. Members of Rocky Mount United Methodist Church were on hand on Thursday to serve the Thanksgiving Day meal.
"We have a lot of volunteers," she said.
With the land purchase, the work will really need to get started, she said.
A company has volunteered to do the excavation work, but other than that, it's literally on the drawing board.
"We need someone to design the building for us," she said. "We really need all the help and participation we can get."
Patterson hopes to have the facility completed in two years, but that will depend on the participation.
"We are making a plea to the community to help us pay off the loan for the land and to build the mission," she said. That help can be monetary, professional expertise or in-kind donations.
In the meantime, Patterson and other volunteers will continue fundraising efforts, work toward a new facility and do what they have been doing for more than six years -- feed the hungry every day.
"We will finally have a permanent home one day," she said.