By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Three charitable organizations rely on Twin Cities Community Outreach for shelter, heat and electricity — but the nonprofit is now in need of assistance of its own.
The outreach group is in the midst of a considerable fundraising campaign to replace the Ridge Road building's deteriorating roof after deciding last year that patch repairs weren't working.
"We were completing patches for a long time, and we looked at the bills and figured out that it wasn't helping the roof," TCCO President Greg Lureman said. "We had to get it done right, so we began reaching out to the community."
Last year, the East Hill Foundation awarded TCCO with a grant of $38,000, which allowed for the replacement for a small part of the roof, measuring about 4,750 square feet. But the main portion of the roof, which is 20,700 square feet and shelters most of the tenants, is still in dire condition.
TCCO has raised $45,000 over the past year to help preserve the building that houses the North Tonawanda Meals-On-Wheels, the NT Inter-Church Food Pantry and the Inter-Church Clothes Closet. The building is a former hockey rink and was donated to the group for $1 more than 20 years ago.
The outreach group has participated in many events, including NT's Snowflake Ball and Canal Fest, to help raise money for the effort. St. Martin's Lutheran Church also organized a fundraiser, and the TCCO has held events of their own.
"I think we are doing a phenomenal job. Our volunteers have been busting their butts," Lureman said. "We have done so much, and we started with nothing, and we're up to $45,000. That may not seem like a lot, but it is."
But the job will likely cost between $175,000 and $200,000, so the organization still has a long path ahead.
"In some places, you can look up and you can see that it has deteriorated and rotted away. There is nothing there, " Lureman said. "There have been times we have had buckets in there, times that the paperwork has gotten wet and has had to be thrown out. Food can't be near the affected area, and we know where the problems are, but it has had a major effect."
TCCO, which is run entirely by volunteers, also pays the building's bills, which have amounted to $1,100 for electricity and $1,380 for heat in recent months. The outreach group's entire purpose is to provide housing for the three organizations, which outgrew the churches they were initially founded in.
"We really just need the community's help," Lureman said. "We are looking for those people who know someone who have benefited from the services of the organizations in the building."
Bonnie Schaffer, the coordinator of the food pantry, said they value the assistance they receive from TCCO. The pantry provides food for 200 families every month.
"The potential for damage and what it would cost for us to replace our food and equipment is what we are trying to avoid happening. We do have quite a few leaks," she said. "The community really comes through for us, and that is why we are putting this plea out."
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.