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Operation Care expands its reach

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Fundraiser to defray cost of new building

By Spencer Jenkins

After relocating to a new building several times the size of its former home, Operation Care will have a fundraiser this week to cover the costs of that move and continue serving the Shelby County community.

Judy Roberts, executive director of Operation Care, said the new location on Main Street in Shelbyville allows her organization to expand all of its programs.

“We’ve been around for 23 years, and we operate three programs – a medical program, a housing program and an emergency assistance program,” she said. “We needed a lot more space. We were so cramped, so we moved out of forty-six-hundred square feet and into almost  ten thousand square feet, so it was a huge jump for us.

“A lot of people in our community don’t know how many lives we touch. Out of the ninety-three-hundred services we’ve provided, that’s probably about six thousand people [from 2005 through 2010].”

Operation Care has five facilities, but the new location, purchased in December for about $487,000, is the largest and now acts as headquarters, Roberts said.

“This allowed us to expand the thrift store, which the thrift store is the supporting arm of the emergency assistance program,” she said. “The emergency assistance program consists of clothes, household items, food, personal hygiene, cleaning products and school supplies.”

Some of the new space will be used for classes, including financial planning and spiritual counseling.

“Rather than us just giving them something, actually teach them,” Roberts said. “You know the old saying, ‘you can give them a fish, but you can teach them to fish.’”

Many of the women that Operation Care works with are victims of abuse, and they are offered job training through the thrift store and taught how to work in a business, she said. After they are trained, Operation Care can give them referrals to other places of employment.

All thrift store items are donated by the community and are sold to the public, generating money for the emergency assistance program, she said.

“But when the needy family comes in, they need clothes or household items or whatever, it’s free to them, Roberts said. “They just go around and have a free shopping spree you might say. We only give necessity items – beds, couches, linens, stove, refrigerator – things like that. “We don’t give into giving out lamps and curtains and pictures. We kind of reserve that to generate funds.”

Since the move to the new location, many community organizations have become more involved.

“We have had more coordination with the community, more churches have stepped up and want to get involved,” Roberts said. “It’s like all of the sudden people see us, and they want to learn more about what we do, and they want to get involved.”

Fundraising Chairman Teresa Barnes said clients, customers and donations have increased since the relocation.

“I think being more visual and because of where we were before we weren’t that visual,” she said. “Since this has the big windows in the front you really notice Operation Care.”

And with those big windows has become a big need for revenue, which is why there will be a fundraiser at Claudia Sanders on Friday at 6 p.m. There will be a live and silent action, featuring guest speaker Stan Curtis, founder of  Kentucky Harvest. Tickets are $50.

The auction will have items from a fully paid orthodontic package to a 2-night stay at Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Roberts said Operation Care is hoping to raise about $40,000 dollars at the fundraiser, but they owe $375,000.

 “This fundraiser is just one of several that will be going on over the next two- or three-year period,” she said.