New home a good fit for Operation Liberty Hill
By Lauren Jette
Operation Liberty Hill celebrated the move to its new location on Highway 183 North, just south of Seward Junction with a ribbon cutting on Monday.
“Well, this is an awesome day. It’s been a long time coming and this is just the perfect time, because God’s timing was so great,” Operation Liberty Hill Executive Director Susan Baker said.
“He’s brought together just the right people for our board, just the right volunteers to do all the hard work, just the right county commissioners, judges and just the perfect location to make this such an awesome community center, not just for the area, not just Liberty Hill, but the whole area. Anyone who needs help, we will try to assist them in any way that we can.”
Community and Chamber of Commerce members gathered at the new location to peruse the new thrift store, and see the larger food pantry. The site has three buildings — one for the thrift store, and the two-story building houses the food pantry and offers a meeting space and media room for the community.
The site formerly housed LifeSprings Church before being purchased by Williamson County.
“We are excited that the building has the opportunity to have new life,” said County Commissioner Precinct 2 Cynthia Long.
“It was kind of just sitting here and we had purchased it years ago when we widened US 183, and to be able to use it again for such a great organization and such a worthy cause, we’re really excited about it.
“Operation Liberty Hill does so much in the community and does such a great service to the community, the County’s just a little part of it and we’re excited that we can be a little part of it,” Long added.
Commissioner Long presented Operation Liberty Hill Board member Randy O’Dell with a small bulldog statue, because he was such a driving force in securing the property for the organization, she said.
O’Dell said when the location on Highway 29 became too small, a search for a larger location began.
“We explored about building, we went through everything in Liberty Hill and kept circling back to this building,” O’Dell said.
“We had thought it was the highway department’s and that they had no interest in doing anything with it because it deteriorated so much in the last three years, but come to find out, it was actually the County’s.
“With that in mind, we started massaging that and that’s made the whole thing work. We did a bid process, got the bid, 10-year lease, they gave us a grant, so that helped. Then we just did the work. We had some hired people and a lot of volunteers. It’s worked out well,” he said.
When she first saw the property, it was in poor shape and she wasn’t sure how it would come together to be what Operation Liberty Hill needed and hoped to be, Baker said.
“This place was completely covered in grape vines, all the sidewalks, everything,” she said.
“They got a tractor and found one root about this big and when they pulled it, it was like an unveiling of this property and right then I knew, I think this is possible. I think it could possibly happen. Without the County and our board, we couldn’t have done it.”
Baker said the addition of the thrift store will allow Operation Liberty Hill to have a ministry that wasn’t there before.
“Besides our food pantry and clothes closet that are both free for our clients, we’re going to now have a thrift store, which we believe is a ministry in itself because people can come and buy things at very low cost and we just don’t have anything like that in this area, so we think it’s going to be a great ministry,” she said.
The store has clothing for all ages, including shoes, furniture, appliances and other household items, and is all priced very low, so that people can come and get whatever they need, Baker added.
Seeing all the hard work and dedication finally come to fruition proved emotional for Baker.
“It’s so strange, I want to jump up and down. It’s been such a process. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s finally here, it’s finally going to open up here,” Baker said as people gave her hugs and congratulated her on the new home.
“It’s very exciting, but I know that there is so much more to come. This is just the tip of the iceberg and God has so much to show us and different ways to use this. I have no idea yet, but it’s exciting. I get up every morning and say, ‘ok, Lord. What adventure are you taking me on today?’ and that’s honestly what I do because everyday is just a new adventure.”
Baker appreciates every moment of the journey and appreciates all who had a part in making the new location happen.
“It’s just been an awesome experience. We have a great board that has made this happen and the County has been awesome. They could have sold this property, tore down these buildings. They could have sold it for a million dollars easily, but they chose to partner with us and help the community. We’re thrilled about it,” Baker said.
The thrift store is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The food pantry is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and 3 – 6 p.m. Thursdays.
Baker says she is still looking for more volunteers to help cover shifts at the store and pantry.
Operation Liberty Hill is located at 1401 U.S. Highway 183.