The long-awaited Oak City Outreach Center will have a soft opening this Saturday at the warehouse at 215 South Person Street, starting at 9 a.m.
The Center will hold an official opening ceremony in July but anyone needing food assistance on weekends from now until then can stop by the center between 9 and 6 p.m. for breakfast, lunch or a late afternoon meal.
After public outcry in August
when Raleigh police threatened to arrest faith leaders for giving out food to homeless people in Moore Square Park, the City of Raleigh contracted with the Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, and spent $111,000 to renovate the 3,200 square-foot former Salvation Army warehouse.
The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness chose Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, in coordination with dozens of churches and ministries as well as non-sectarian humanitarian groups, to oversee and run the Center.
The temporary Center will operate at a cost of $50,000 a year to the City until a long-term plan to end homelessness is implemented.
The space accommodates 150 people inside and another 50-100 people at picnic tables outside, and bathrooms and hand-washing stations are available for guests.
Rick Miller-Haraway, the director of the Raleigh Catholic Diocese Regional Office, said he expects to provide food to between 200 and 300 people each weekend.
“It’s hard to know (how many people the Center will reach), because there was no coordination of the groups providing food up to this time,” Miller-Haraway said. “No one was keeping track before. This will give us an opportunity to learn more about what the need is in the community.”
Miller-Haraway said the different groups involved hope the Center “will be a place where everyone knows your name.”
“It’s an incredibly diverse group of folks coming together to accomplish a common purpose to provide nourishment to people who don’t have enough food to feed themselves or their families,” he said.