Meals on Wheels partners with Bridging the Gap

by W. Winston Skinner

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Don Gangell, president of the Meals on Wheels of Coweta board of directors, and Alison Wallace, founder and director of Bridging the Gap, shake hands after reaching an agreement to work together to serve area senior citizens.

Bridging the Gap has a new home – and a new partnership with Meals on Wheels of Coweta.

BTG and MOWOC now have a partnership that leaders with both groups say will allow them to serve the needs of senior citizens in the community. In July, BTG will begin providing cooked meals to MOWOC – which will continue their program of delivering meals to seniors in Coweta County.

“We were looking for ways to increase service to seniors in need. Our funding had been cut back over the past several years and we had to think outside the box for solutions,” said Don Gangell, president of the MOWOC board of directors.

“With perfect timing, in stepped BTG,” he said.

BTG has recently relocated to a new facility on First Avenue in downtown Newnan, and the new space includes kitchen facilities that will be built out to further support the partnership. This move has allowed BTG to expand services to partner with MOWOC.

Alison Wallace, BTG’s founder and director, said the organization’s approach is to unconditionally serve people in need. For two years, BTG has been collecting data on almost everyone who has come through the doors to receive food or other services.

“What we have found is that a simple box of food will not cure the root issues. In fact, it will only bring relief for a few days. The goal, then, is to identify the root issues of hunger and poverty and work to bring lasting change to individuals and families,” Wallace said.

While BTG got its start distributing food that was near its expiration date – donated by grocery stores – “we’ve never been about feeding people,” Wallace said, but rather about learning “why they have a need and coming up with solutions.”

During the month of January 2013, in providing approximately 1,300 pounds of food, BTG identified that 32 percent of the food recipients were senior citizens. This realization laid the plans for the partnership with MOWOC. 

“We knew we had to do something to help the people who serve the seniors,” Wallace said.

Wallace said she knew that if she could partner with an organization that had an established mission of meeting the needs of Coweta senior citizens on a daily basis, more seniors could be served. For BTG and MOWOC, she said, the timing could not have been more perfect.

“By both organizations working together we will be able to increase service to seniors by 50 percent, and this is just the beginning on what the two great organizations like BTG and MOWOC can accomplish by working together,” Gangell said.

Both BTG and MOWOC are non-profit organizations that rely on community support to provide services. For more information on volunteering and donating to either of these organizations, visit the Bridging the Gap website at www.btgcommunity.org, or the Meals on Wheels of Coweta website at www.mealsonwheelsofcoweta.

BTG began moving a few weeks ago from the longtime location on Andrews Street across town to the First Avenue site. On First Avenue, there are two buildings – a storefront and part of the old Manget-Brannon warehouse that was once used as an arts center.

The new space gives BTG many options for expanding its food ministry and incorporating other projects into its programs. Gangell said MOWOC was excited to make the connection with BTG and to learn “they want to work with us.”

The cross pollination from the two groups is already bringing about good results. BTG has training for volunteers each Tuesday morning. On July 2, “I didn’t expect anybody to be here,” Wallace said.

There were 19 volunteers who took the training, and 11 of them also volunteered to work with MOWOC. “This is all coming together,” Wallace said.




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