Edgerton Community Outreach nears end of $800,000 renovation

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Andrea Behling
Friday, June 20, 2014

EDGERTON—Renovation of Edgerton Community Outreach offices means Sarah Williams and her staff can serve people with dignity, she said.

Before $800,000 in remodeling began in September 2013, Williams and her staff worked out of a single office.

“Up to six people worked off of one desk,” said Williams, executive director.

It was nearly impossible to meet privately with sick or upset homeless clients, she said.

“It was horrible. There were always interruptions,” she said.

Now, the non-profit has double the space for its food pantry and other services.

The project added 6,000 square feet of office, utility and storage space in the upper level of the former tobacco warehouse at 106 S. Main St. The renovation included the installation of an elevator and four bathrooms finishing the ceiling and walls in the retail and food pantry areas and making the building disabled accessible.

The organization hopes to have major construction done by June 30.

Staff conducted business during construction. The food pantry briefly was moved to Edgerton United Methodist Church in February.

“The fact that our volunteers are as phenomenal as they are and dealt with it, it was amazing,” Williams said.

Jackie Scherrer, a six-year volunteer, said she appreciates how new windows have brightened the retail area.

“Everyone comments on how beautiful it is,” Scherrer said. “I can't believe it's the same place.”

While the renovation helped alleviate what Williams called a “severe lack of space,” the project went $50,000 over its $750,000 budget because of unforeseen electrical and masonry work and flooding issues. The organization still needs $50,000 to make sure the project is finished by the end of the summer, she said.

The Community Development Block Grant and donations from The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation made up large portions of the financial support for the project. The organization's “fill-the-gap” campaign looks to the community to cover the remaining deficit.

“We've had a lot of success with people giving over the course of five years,” she said.

Edgerton Community Outreach  hopes to raise an additional $50,000 to pave the parking lot and install catch basins to correct water drainage.

The building ran into a flooding problems during construction, which put about three inches of water in the unfinished basement. Wisconsin & Southern Railroad removed unused tracks beside the building and trenched and sloped the area afterward. That eliminated about 75 percent of the water issues, Williams said.

Despite minor setbacks, Williams said, the success Edgerton Community Outreach has had in raising money and completing the project has been amazing, and community members have noticed.

“It looks brand new,” Edgerton resident Tamara Swenson said.

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