Oldsmar Cares and City of Oldsmar officials cut the ribbon on the nonprofit organization’s new 3,000-sq.-ft. headquarters on Saturday, Mar. 31, 2018.
Oldsmar Cares has been helping the less fortunate residents of the greater Oldsmar area for more than 20 years, providing food, clothing and services first from the back of a church and, for the past decade, out of a tiny cottage on SR 580 near downtown.
Recently, several board members of the nonprofit organization, along with city officials, cut the ribbon on a new 3,000-sq.ft. headquarters, a sleek, multifunctional facility that shares a parking lot with the old building, but little else.
During the ceremony on Saturday, Mar. 31, longtime board member David Wallace spoke about Oldsmar Cares’ new space, which cost nearly half a million dollars and was funded primarily through donations and fundraisers.
Oldsmar Cares board member David Wallace.
“This is for the people who sacrificed their time and energy, and donated money, to give us the ability to do this,” Wallace told the assembled group, which included Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis and US Congressman Gus Bilirakis.
“We have over 300 volunteers, and it’s because of you we are standing here today. I’m so happy and proud to be a part of this. This started 22 months ago, and it came together absolutely perfectly and it’s about the people. It truly took a village to make this happen.”
The plan to build the new state-of-the-art Oldsmar Cares facility was announced in November 2016, when Wallace told the City Council “the idea is for us to have our own home that we can enjoy and we can better serve the public that we serve.”
After receiving a favorable lease agreement—40 years at $10.00 per year–from the City a few months later, the organization broke ground on the new building last June, with Wallace hoping construction would be completed by the end of 2017.
Oldsmar Cares board member Brenda Gaulin gives tours of the organization’s new headquarters on Mar. 31, 2018.
But being a few months, and a few dollars, off their target didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the new headquarters, which officially opened in January and features amenities like a conference room, an expanded lobby with a separate delivery door, a full service bathroom and enough storage space to allow officials to abandon a separate storage facility.
“As a volunteer-based organization, we had a very cramped headquarters before,” Oldsmar Cares board member and marketing director Brenda Gaulin said as she conducted a tour of the new building during the ribbon-cutting.
“We have a lot more people coming through here now and we’ve never had an administration office, never had a meeting room, never had a place for on-site storage of food and supplies. So we really needed a new facility.”
While the news of the expansion didn’t sit well with some nearby residents after it was announced, due mainly to misinformation that the building would be used as a makeshift homeless shelter, there’s no question that the organization needed more room to serve its growing constituent base.
“It’s a good and bad thing that they outgrew their space, because that means there’s a lot more people down on their luck,” Mayor Bevis said as he mingled among the crowd while a live band played in the parking lot.
Oldsmar Cares officials recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new, 3,000-sq.-ft. headquarters on SR 580.
“But it’s a necessary evil, and we’re fortunate to have a tremendous organization to help take care of them. The community leaders stepped forward to make this possible, and that’s what a community is all about.”
Congressman Bilirakis, a longtime supporter of Oldsmar and its treatment of veterans, said helping others in the community is what the city, and the country, is all about.
Oldsmar Cares board member David Wallace (r) gives a tour of the new facility to US Congressman Gus Bilirakis on Mar. 31, 2018.
“This is a real special place, the City of Oldsmar. Just dare them to get something done and they’ll get it done,” Bilirakis (R-FL12) said.
“This community gets together and helps each other, and that’s what America is all about.”
Wallace said he was happy the organization will finally be able to adequately care for the many families in need in the area thanks to the new facility.
“It is so wonderful because we can now focus on other programs, including a tutoring program and a class that teaches senior citizens how to use cell phones, and we will be able to help more people this year,” Wallace said.
“Oldsmar Cares is all about people wanting to make a difference, and now we will be able to make a difference in so many more lives.”