After 30 years in the Laramie Plains Civic Center, Interfaith-Good Samaritan has acquired its own location near LaBonte Park.
The new building features greater accessibility, space for a larger food pantry and allows Interfaith to explore potentially expanding its services to address bigger needs in Albany County, including food insecurity and homelessness prevention.
Interfaith’s Executive Director Mike Vercauteren said while the nonprofit wasn’t actively looking for a new location, it’s been obvious to board members “for quite some time” it is at capacity at the civic center and would need a bigger space soon, especially in the food pantry.
“In 2018, we gave away 882 pounds of food every day,” Vercauteren said. “We have very limited storage capacity, so we are doing food drives regularly. … We have to keep a regular flow coming in and out because we don’t have the capacity to store enough.”
The new building, he added, a former Ark Regional Services building located on Canby Street, was “too perfect” for their needs, both geographically and physically.
“We have about 2,000 square feet right now that we’re utilizing on three different floors, and now we’re going to have about 3,250 feet,” said Mitchell Cushman, president of Interfaith’s board of directors. “It’s a big difference, and it’s all on one floor.”
Having one floor means greater accessibility, which Cushman said will not just help not the clients that use Interfaith’s services, but also the nonprofit’s “life blood” — volunteers.
“Our volunteers sometimes have special needs, too, and going up stairs is sometimes an impossibility,” Cushman said. “This is going to be good for both clients and volunteers.”
Having ownership of the building and the extra square footage will also help Interfaith further expand its services, Cushman said.
After a recent strategic planning training session with the Wyoming Nonprofit Network, Vercauteren said the board started to rethink its overall mission.
“With a new location and new space, we will hopefully have the capacity to not just hand out food but to work on food insecurity issues in Albany County and to collaborate with partners around the issues of food insecurity,” Vercauteren said.
Looking at the “bigger need,” Vercauteren said, could also help Interfaith and its partners address issues of homelessness prevention in Albany County beyond distributing rent assistance and motel vouchers.
“This new facility is perfect timing for us to step up and actually work on larger issues in the community that directly affect the clients that we serve on a daily basis,” Vercauteren said.
Although the building fits their needs perfectly, it does need some repairs and updates. Cushman said they expect to open the new location in August once construction is complete.