OWBC donates storage building to Operation Liberty Hill

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By ANTHONY FLORES

Finding the silver lining during trying times can be difficult. Operation Liberty Hill Executive Director Susan Baker is finding hers in the increased cooperation and coordination that COVID-19 is inspiring between various nonprofit organizations.

With the amount of growth that Operation Liberty Hill has experienced over the last few years, space is becoming an issue when it comes to the storage of food.

“We had an issue with the amount of food we were able to order,” said Baker. “We didn’t have a place to put it. Even though we had access to food, we didn’t have the room for it, so we were limited to how much we could order from Central Texas Food Bank.”

While they have a container, the summertime conditions make it challenging to store food.

“It’s not climate controlled, and, in the summer, it gets up to 120 or 130 degrees in there,” said Baker.

Because of COVID-19, Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties canceled one of their upcoming events. The cancellation left extra funds on the table for spending, and the organization opted to use the money to help other nonprofits.

“When COVID hit, we knew we had some very vulnerable populations,” said Director of Development for Opportunities Lauren McAndrews. “We predominantly work with low-income families, and we knew we had seniors that wouldn’t be able to get out. We had children and families who are what we call food insecure. We aren’t a food pantry, so we reached out to our food pantry partners and asked what we can do to benefit the community.”

McAndrews reached out to Baker to what their greatest need was going to be.

“I said we need space,” said Baker. “She said to figure it out and send her some bids on portable buildings. She said to give her our best, medium and lowest range, and she’d take it to her board.”

Not long after sharing their needs, Opportunities board members voted to approve the mid-range bid.

“At about 9 p.m. on a Sunday a few months ago she called me and said the board approved the middle-level building, a 12×24 garage with an overhead door,” said Baker. “I was just ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it.”

The unit was provided by local business Moore Liberty Buildings and still needs a few adjustments before storing food, such as electricity, cooling, and heating.

“We are going to have to run electricity through it, insulate it, get shelving, and an air conditioner combo heater for it. We’re hoping to get a lot of that donated,” said Baker. “We can store canned goods, which we purchase by the case. We can store boxed items, which need to be kept at a certain temperature. We won’t have to compromise the space in the pantry where we’re already so limited.”

Because of the positive turn of events, Baker finds the silver lining in troubling times, thankful for the increased unity.

“The one good thing to come out of COVID for us is our networking and relationships with other nonprofits has just blossomed. It was good before, but it’s incredible now,” she said.

After installing the newest unit, it’s becoming apparent that more space is needed as Operation Liberty Hill grows. Baker believes the next step is eventually finding a new, more spacious home.

“That’s the next thing I’ll be taking to our board,” she said. “We really are going to need some donated land where we can build or even better-donated land with buildings on it.”

While Baker is aware of the need for more space, it’s just now that they’re ready to announce that they’re ready to move and need the land.

“We haven’t looked into purchasing land because we would also have to build buildings on them,” she said. “We need these things to be donated, especially the land. If we had a head start with the land, we could build one building at a time.”

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