bridges

Amanda M. Usher | The Valdosta Daily Times

A groundbreaking ceremony is held Thursday for a new Living Bridges Ministry warehouse and work center on Ivey Road. Michael Smith, the Greater Valdosta United Way executive director, Charles Barnes, Barnes Drug Store chief executive officer, Tony and Darcy Gunter, Living Bridges co-founders, Lowndes County Commissioner Joyce Evans and Giovanni Panizzi of Teamtemps Personnel Staffing.

VALDOSTA – Living Bridges Ministry broke ground on its new Ivey Road warehouse and work center Thursday during a ceremony. 

Darcy Gunter, ministry co-founder, announced in July the nonprofit was planning to build the facility.

She said it was overwhelming to see plans come together. 

"It's just a great day for our ministry and hopefully a great day for the clients that we serve," she said, "and so, we're excited and we hope they're excited, too, once it's built and they can actually appreciate what this place does for them."

The metal structure will hold an estimated 1,000 square feet of processing space and will be utilized to store donations. Gunter said events may be hosted at the facility.

She said the Living Bridges East Adair Street community center will remain open. 

Funding to secure the new facility largely came from the Barnes Healthcare Services/Barnes Drug Store 100 Years 5K Fun Run held in July. 

Gunter said the event raised $25,000 more than its initial goal; $20,000 of the proceeds went toward the land purchase. She said the owner was willing to "to take a hit or loss" on the sale of the land, and someone donated the metal building that will be utilized.

Charles Barnes, chief executive officer of Barnes Drug Store, said though it was shock to raise more than the intended goal, it was a blessing.

"We're so excited," he said. "It was a big surprise. We were very concerned with the year with COVID-19 and getting sponsorships, and we had by far our best year ever. We generally have a better year every year and we were blown away by the support."

Barnes said the 5K raised more than $80,000.

With a purpose of caring for people, he said the concept of the 5K was being able to give back to the community.

"This by far is one of the most amazing groups that we've ever worked with. Darcy and all of the volunteers here, they never cease to blow me away with what they're doing," Barnes said of Living Bridges.

"I'm so grateful to be here today to see the building growing and being able to help more lives. That's what's it's about. It's about investing into our community and servicing those locally and having the human touch."

Barnes Drug Store will continue to support Living Bridges, he said.

The ministry needs money to assist with the foundation, wiring, air conditioning, getting appliances and building restrooms. 

"We are still fundraising, but it's not going to cost nearly as much as it could've cost us, so we are blessed in that regard," Gunter said. 

Opening of the warehouse and work center is tentatively scheduled between December and March.

Call Gunter, (229) 234-7427, for more information about Living Bridges Ministry. 

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