Hands and Feet Ministry searches for new storage space

Jack Cantrell, of Tullahoma, now has wheelchair ramp at his home. The ramp was built by Hands and Feet Ministry volunteers recently. With Cantrell are, from left, Erin Robinson, Catherine Hall and Phillip Moody, board members of the nonprofit organization. The ministry is now seeking a new storage facility, after the warehouse it has previously been using was found to be in violation of building codes.

For roughly four years, Hands and Feet Ministry in Tullahoma has offered help to individuals who need repairs to their homes and can’t afford to pay for the renovations on their own.

Now, the nonprofit organization is facing challenges.

To fund its projects, Hands and Feet accepts donated items, which the ministry stores in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 303 Industrial Blvd.  Once a month, to raise funds to continue its work, the mission organizes a sale of those items at the warehouse.

“People donate items to us and we sell them once a month to the public. That has pretty much funded our ministry from the beginning,” said Catherine Hall, a Hands and Feet Ministry board member. “We do occasionally have monetary donations.”

However, city officials say, the nonprofit cannot use that warehouse any longer.


Building codes

The City of Tullahoma and the Tullahoma Fire Department have determined the building doesn’t meet codes and safety requirements, according Hall.

“We have been working with the city and the fire department, trying to rectify some of these safety issues,” Hall said, adding that the ministry believes the code violations cited by city officials are legitimate. However, fixing those deficiencies is beyond the group’s financial capabilities.

It would cost more than $100,000 to do the necessary improvements to comply with codes, according to Hall.

“We make about $1,200 during a sale event,” Hall said. “There is no way.”


Helping those in need

Members of the nonprofit organization are all volunteers.

They build handicap ramps, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms and renovate floors of houses to restore safety, security and sanitation.

Hands and Feet serves people residing in Coffee, Bedford, Moore and Franklin counties.

“We have been doing this about four years now,” Hall said. “We help people who do not have the means to do it themselves. We have helped 65 families.”

Though the volunteers stay busy – completing two projects a month – there is still a waiting list.

“Currently, we are eight to 10 weeks out,” Hall said. “We are all volunteers. And we all have jobs. We usually try to do a project every other Saturday. The need is so great in this community.”

Local residents have been enthusiastic about donating time and efforts to assist.

Though there are 100 volunteers in the organization’s database, additional helpers are always welcome, said Hall.

She encouraged local churches, civic groups, schools and individuals to become involved with the initiative.

Jackson Cantrell is one of the Tullahoma residents Hands and Feet has helped. His house now has a ramp.

“I have been able to get off the porch and out of the house,” Cantrell said. “It makes me more active.”


How to help?

Bringing the current warehouse space into compliance is not a feasible option, so the ministry needs another warehouse in which donated items can be stored and sales events organized.

Monetary donations will also help.

“We usually spend between $500 and $1,000 for each project,” Hall said. “We try to do two projects a month.”

The last fundraising sale organized by the ministry was held in April.

Monetary donations can be made to P.O. Box 756 in Tullahoma.

For more information, call Hall at 931-607-7811.

Elena Cawley can be reached by email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.