The Marietta-based organization marked the beginning of the build-out of its new facility at 11 Brown Industrial Parkway with a celebration inside the new location Friday morning.
At approximately 8,900 square feet, the 2.5 acre facility will replace the one on Marietta Road just outside of downtown Canton that is roughly 5,400 square feet. MUST serves Cherokee County clients with its food pantry, clothing closet, financial assistance, translation assistance, housing and other seasonal programs.
Ike Reighard, president and CEO of MUST Ministries, said the kickoff was a very momentous occasion for his organization.
“It seems very appropriate that we’re marking the launch of a build-out today of this facility that it’s also right at our 25th anniversary of being here and able to serve Cherokee County,” he said.
Reighard said MUST was able to serve about 34,000 people last year, 11,000 of whom reside in Cherokee.
He said the facility will allow MUST to better serve clients by having enough space to accommodate the growing need.
“I thought as I was driving up today, it raining is kind of appropriate,” Reighard said. “I would think about how our clients would be standing out in the rain, waiting to get in the door and standing under umbrellas. This facility really does represent a brand new opportunity to be able to not only to be able to serve, but to be able to do it in a much more efficient and affective manner.”
Reighard, who is entering into his second year as CEO of the non-profit, said more than 400 people gained employment through MUST last year.
“And that to us is being able to transform someone’s life,” he said.
Reighard thanked all the board members, local government, volunteers and supporters that made the relocation possible.
Board member Linda Hasty, a lifelong resident of Cherokee County, said she and board member Don Hausfeld co-chaired the capital campaign that helped raised over $2 million to secure the new building.
“I’m proud to tell you we not only exceeded our initial goal of $1.7 million but we went beyond that,” Hasty said. “We now have in the bank enough for the first full year to cover this building.”
Hasty thanked many people, including the small MUST Cherokee staff and dedicated volunteers, as well as the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners for helping secure a community development block grant that enabled them to purchased the space.
But Hasty said she felt it most important to thank God.
“This was truly a God-led effort,” she said. “He opened doors for us. He cleared the path.”
Additionally, the Rev. Dr. Jim Lowery, district superintendent of the Atlanta United Methodist Church, said a prayer to bless the new space.
Hausfeld said he anticipates the build-out to begin next week and expects it will take somewhere between 90 and 120 days for construction. He said a ribbon cutting will be planned for the opening of the facility.
“The biggest thing is we’re trying to allow people to rebuild their respect for themselves and you can’t do that when you’re telling someone the most private things in your life if you have a curtain between you and the next person,” Hausfeld said of the additional space. “This gives them the respect that they need.”
Hausfeld said the facility will be very similar to the Marietta location, which serves as the non-profit’s headquarters.
Hausfeld added the location was ideal because it provided access to public transportation and is close to many other county services on Brown Industrial Parkway.
“It gives us the exposure because a lot of people still don’t know about MUST,” he said. “They do not know that we educate so that people can go out and get jobs. We provide food, clothes, computer training and we allow them to get an e-mail address so they can come in here and use our computer lab.”
Chamber President and CEO Pam Carnes said she hopes to celebrate the grand opening in just a few weeks with better weather.
“We hope the sun shines that day, but you know if it doesn’t, it isn’t going to matter,” Carnes said. “We will cut a ribbon no matter what’s happening outside.”