The North Gwinnett Co-Operative Ministry goes back to 1991 in serving needy residents of Buford, Suwanee and Sugar Hill. But it took a step forward Tuesday (Oct. 2) by celebrating its new headquarters -- which it owns.
"We'll be able to serve (residents in need) more efficiently," said Maureen Kornowa, the agency's executive director.
Previously, the agency and its companion thrift store, Second Blessings, were in an administrative building of the Buford school system, and there have been other temporary locations over the years. But not only will the co-op gain obvious benefits of ownership -- the new building on Commerce Drive in Buford previously was owned by People's Bank -- but it should save money on utilities.
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"We knew this day would come," said Carolyn Hill, co-chair of North Gwinnett Co-Op, at Tuesday's opening ceremony. The event was attended by elected officials from Buford, Suwanee and Sugar Hill, agency board members, and various others, including officials from sponsoring companies such as Publix and Sam's Club.
Kornowa noted that funding comes from various sources, but none comes from governments.
"It's all about giving," she said.
And there's plenty of people in need in the area. Kornowa noted that when the economy crashed a few years ago, there were "people with six-figure incomes who lost everything" who came seeking help. "There were too many to tell."
In general, the agency serves people who are below the poverty line. It offers help with food, utilities, and even tutoring for children in grades K-12. Of course, there will be holiday meals, too.
"We can't wait to see what the future has in store," Hill said.