Soteria Kitchen Transformation Completed
Despite delays caused by the pandemic, the Soteria kitchen renovation project has been completed.
What a year for Leadership Greenville class 46.
When our class first met in mid-2019, we were all eager to learn about the community we aimed to serve and forge long-lasting relationships with fellow team members while actively fundraising for our projects. The monthly classes proved interesting and allowed us the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about how various agencies work together to support our community. The poverty simulations were incredibly impactful, as were the tours of correctional institutions, where we heard some touching and inspirational stories.
Our fundraising efforts were going well, as was the planning for our big event at the Wyche Pavilion in April. Named "One Greenville One Give," this event would, for the first time, to include all three project teams working together for a bigger purpose. Shirts had been screen-printed, items donated for the online auction with many vendors confirmed. Each group was excited to come together and celebrate Leadership Greenville and the organizations we were supporting.
Then Covid-19 threw a gigantic wrench in the works, and a mad scramble ensued to find alternate plans. Our Fresh Start team dug deep, worked together, and managed to raise additional funds without an in-person event. Lockdown was a challenging time, especially when coordinating final installations at the Soteria house in Travelers Rest. Our team members had already completed the demolition and prep, and some incredibly generous building partners graciously offered up many in-kind services for the cause.
Now, how does the Soteria organization feed three meals a day to a group of 10-15 people while the kitchen and dining area are being renovated? It isn't easy; however, we pulled together once more and found people who were willing to donate meals, collect them and deliver while remaining socially distant – we sincerely appreciate all those involved in this endeavor.
"From the very first day we were in here, chipping up the old tile thick-set mud bed," said Brandon Scott, Fresh Start team member," that's not fun work, it's hard! The number of people that were in here using whatever tool they could get their hands to help was incredible".
The expansion of the Soteria dining area and gathering space adjacent to the kitchen was demanding; however, we are excited to announce that despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, the project is now complete! The renovations provide an efficient kitchen workspace as well as a more open floorplan design. A vital element of the project was to deliver a physical and visual connection from the meal prep areas that would flow into the dining and gathering space. A long-term food storage area was included within the scope of work, featuring a dedicated pantry to provide a more efficient storage solution with easier access.
The project scope included many elements, ranging from renovations to new beds and furniture.
Throughout the space, the design highlights the craft of the Soteria at Work individuals. The kitchen prep island counter, the figurative and literal "heart" of the kitchen, is a butcherblock fashioned from reclaimed wood. The Soteria residents made the barn doors featured throughout, created from repurposed materials as well. These elements are the focal point accents within the space that adds warmth and character to the surrounding areas.
"My overall impression of the team, I think about that a lot," shared Jerry Blassingame, Founder of Soteria. "I wanted to brag on them because this was a high-level project that included fundraising, construction, and monthly meetings - but everyone was so accommodating, they knew my name, and they involved me. We got a new library, a new laundry room and were able to get 16 new beds and furniture for our living room. We got half of our facility renovated, and it was such a blessing, we are so thankful."
From the generous donations we received for the kitchen renovation project, our team was also able to purchase new furniture and new beds and bedding for the residents. It's clearly understood this has been an unprecedented year on many levels. The project could not have moved forward had we not received such an outpouring of support from our in-kind and financial donors to make this a highly successful project.
To view our Fresh Start Team Soteria project video, please click here.