The United Way of Tri-County is closing out is capital drive, and about to begin construction in the next several weeks on its new cafe and food pantry in downtown Framingham, said President Paul Mina.
“Through the generosity of our landlord for the last 20 years Roger Challen we are able to purchase the building, we currently have our headquarters at,” said Mina. “The price will allow us to save $80,000 a year for what we were paying to lease the former site.”
Mina said “no money from the United Way budget was involved in purchasing the building.”
“This is all being made possible by the generosity of Mr. Challen,” said Mina to Framingham Source Thursday.
Mina said the cost to renovate 46 Park Street to support the cafe & cupboard is about “$150,000 to $200,000.”
The United Way is completing a 2-month fundraising campaign for that expense, said Mina.
Mina said the cupboard and cafe, which serves meals to more than 4,000 families annually, and distributes more than a million pounds of food, needs to be out by the end of the summer.
“We are trying to see if we can stay a little longer,” said Mina.
“We built that (Pearl Street Cupboard & Cafe) with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” said Mina. “The name is very emotional, so we have decided to call the new location Pearl Street Cupboard & Cafe at Park.”
Mina, who said he has been doing this for 35 years, said the organization has a “very strong base of support.”
He said the mission continues to be “to serve people that really need help.”
“The number of people who need food and assistance, even right here in Framingham, is staggering,” said Mina. “There are many in Framingham, who are underemployed. They work every day, but still can’t make ends meet.”
Mina said the goal is to have “no change in services.”
“I dont think the pantry will be effected negatively,” said Mina, who said worst case scenario, the United Way could use its warehouse on Bishop Street to temporarily house the pantry until Park Street is operational.
“The cafe part of the move, is more challenging,” said Mina, who said there is the possibility that “the cafe would have to close down for a bit. I hope not, and we are looking at options.”
He said one option being considered is producing “cold meals offsite.”
Another option is to find “kitchen space in the general area.”
“The goal is to have the least amount of disruption for our clients,” said Mina. “They already have enough on their mind. We want to have no change in service, if possible.”