Many hands make light work. Join the effort to include people with disabilities and expand services to the community!
Livingston Free Methodist Church (LFMC) sprung into action when Iowa-Grant schools shutdown due to the coronavirus. It opened up its doors and set-up as a hub for food donations and volunteers to sort, package and deliver food to families with children who lost access to free meals at school and cannot afford to feed them. It maintained this service for 31 weeks through Nov 19, 2020 providing 449 family meals including 1150 children.
This is not something new. One of only two churches in a small town with a population of 664 (2010 census), LFMC has served free meals to the community every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month for years prior to the coronavirus. It also houses the Livingston Community Improvement Corporation (LCIC) walk in food pantry and opens its doors for use by other social groups such as the Boys Scouts. This is in keeping with its mission statement “Love God, love people and help others to do the same”.
This church has been serving the Livingston, WI community since 1887. The current structure was built in the 1930’s. It has old wiring, a layout that is really not conducive for efficient provision of free meals or food, incurable water problems in the tunnel that leads to the fellowship hall which is in the basement of the parsonage and yes, you guessed right, the building is not handicap accessible. One has to navigate stairs to get into the building. In addition, all bathrooms and classrooms are located in the basement. The walk in food pantry is located in one of these basement classrooms limiting who can actually get in and physically pick out food. The basement fellowship hall provides the only feasible location where the free meals can be served further limiting who can eat inside the building in community with others. This fellowship hall also provides the venue where food and other donated items can be sorted for placement in the walk in food pantry or packaged for delivery to families. The lack of handicap accessibility also limits who can volunteer to help with the free meals, food pantry and Boys Scout activities, among others.
Solutions evaluated include installing a chair lift but the stairwell is too narrow. The main floor is 54 inches above the sidewalk requiring a 54 feet ramp plus a 6 feet rest area and another 6 feet entrance area. Estimate for installing an elevator is $100,000 which includes site preparation for digging 4 feet below the basement floor, room for the elevator, egress and a mechanical room. The bathrooms still need to be brought up to ADA standards, significant remodeling needed to accommodate the elevator, egress and mechanical room, update of old wiring is still needed and the final result will reduce available spaces for the free meals, food pantry and other services offered to the community without further modifications. The cost of the updates needed basically require a new building.
The new building will be on one level, address all of the above issues and enable the expansion of services to the community including the provision of a suitable venue for hosting community events such as family reunions, birthdays, funerals, and weddings.
Church members have been hard at work raising $60,000 so far. But this is still well short of the estimated $450,000 needed. Please consider how you can join the effort. Help make a difference in Livingston, WI and the surrounding communities by donating to the new building fund.
Church website: http://livingston-fmc.org
Church Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Livingston-Free-Methodist-Church-250854453574/