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Willing Partners director says non-profit 'on shaky ground'

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Staff Report

Local nonprofit Willing Partners is in need of funding, according to Executive Director Kathy Cooley.

She made the statement in a press release on May 2, speaking about financial needs and her hope for the charity to find a new location. It moved on Jan. 31 from its original location near Roses in Galax to two different, smaller buildings in the city.

The food bank set up in the old Sonic Drive-In building at 970 East Stuart Drive, and the thrift store set up at 974 East Stuart Drive, Suite L (on the lower level of the Willow Place Complex underneath the UPS Store and Merle Norman Studio).

Ever since the relocation, sales have dropped drastically, and they are experiencing challenges like never before, says Cooley.

“The move has proven very devastating to us,” she noted, expressing concern for the nonprofit’s future.

Willing Partners has continued the search for a permanent home ever since having to vacate their previous location in the Grant’s shopping center. In addition to office space, they need room to house a food bank and thrift store, which involves areas for processing donations and laundry equipment to wash and dry clothing. The food pantry must be able to meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The space itself must meet commercial building codes.

Willing Partners, Cooley said, “has never maintained large reserves, but rather just enough to lean on if finances were tight from time to time.”

Despite this, the nonprofit, which is over 20 years old, has provided many services over the years to the residents of the Twin Counties. Their primary focus has always been a food bank. In 2018, it served an average of 950 families each month, and supplemented the food budgets of 10,569 families and 22,935 individuals.

If you would like to help, contact Cooley at (276) 233-5416. Donations may be mailed to Willing Partners Inc., 970 East Stuart Drive, Galax, VA 24333; or you may donate at any branch of Skyline National Bank by designating your contribution to the Willing Partners Relocation Fund.