By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern
PATERSON, N.J. — The current home to the Center for United Methodist Aid to the Community, or CUMAC, for over 30 years, is about to undergo some major changes.
The 28,000 square foot facility, which is speculated to have been built in the early 1920s, is currently divided into three main areas and offices.
The largest is a warehouse area where food donations are received, processed, and sorted. It is a marketplace where clients are able to “shop” for free groceries, and a thrift shop where clients are able to purchase gently used clothes and housewares for discounted prices.
However, the minds at CUMAC thought it was time for a change. The building is undergoing a set of renovations aimed at making the facility more accessible for clients and more comfortable for employees.
Laura Purdy, Director of Operations for the nonprofit, has been with the organization for 17 years, and welcomes the changes. “It was a long discussion on space and whether we were using the space in the best possible way,” she said.
The current marketplace area is being moved to the former thrift shop, which will give clients more room to move around and shop, and more importantly will cut down on lines and enable clients to wait inside during harsh weather.
“I think for the [new] marketplace, it’ll suit our needs,” Purdy said. “It’s three times as large as the other one.”
There are also plans to expand CUMAC’s social service options with the new space.
“We’ll have an area for benefits enrollment, and I’m hoping for dietary advice and other health professionals,” said Purdy.
While the renovations, once completed, will add to the appeal of CUMAC, the focus remains on client interaction.
“We hope to create a more trauma informed space, we want people to find CUMAC to be a safe place,” Purdy said.
Renovations on the space began early in March of 2022 and are set to be complete in the fall.
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