The Alliance of Southwest Missouri will kick off its first capital campaign next week in an effort to raise $1.5 million over the next three years to expand existing programs and renovate its new location.
The capital campaign will be officially launched during an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday at 1601 S. Wall Ave. in Joplin. Chamber offices in its four-county service area also will be present. Tours and hot chocolate will be offered to the public from 2 to 4 p.m.
Jen Black, executive director, said the organization chose to announce its campaign on Giving Tuesday, a global movement that encourages charitable giving during the holiday season. The goal is to raise at least $10,000 on that day to start the campaign, she said.
The building, which once housed the Faith Fellowship Church, had been vacant for years and is thought to be more than 100 years old. The alliance officially moved its offices over to the space at the end of June.
“We’re going to restore the older part of the building," Black said. "This will be our first big announcement of the move and the reason behind it. We’re very excited.”
Established in 1998, the Alliance of Southwest Missouri is a nonprofit organization that works with regional partners to strengthen families and communities by focusing on three core areas: community involvement; substance abuse and violence prevention; and child and family health and well-being. Its service area is Jasper, Newton, McDonald and Barton counties.
The nonprofit provides drug misuse prevention, child abuse prevention, defensive driver classes and driver education courses, as well as fire safety and car seat safety training.
The group had previously operated from the lower level of the Gryphon Building on South Main Street, renting that space for five years. Earlier this year, local attorney Scott Vorhees donated the building on Wall Avenue to the organization.
“We had the monthly expense of rent, and this (new building) does offer about 9,000 square feet more than what we had,” Black said. “We’ll be able to use those savings for program investment and additional square footage to use for those. ... We’re all about collaboration, and we work with a lot of coalitions and other nonprofits that can really benefit from the space as well.”
Vorhees said he passed by the former church every day on his way to work and one day noticed a “For Sale” sign out front. A few years ago, he purchased the building, which is nearly 15,000 square feet, with the hope that it could be revitalized for the benefit of local nonprofit organizations.
“It was being neglected and not put to what I thought was its best use,” he said. “I really wasn’t sure what its purpose was meant to be, but I had this little nagging voice in my head that it needed to be put back into service to the community.
“It just seemed like a natural location for the alliance, and to demonstrate that these old structures need a little bit of love and care,” he added. “It basically turned out to be the perfect fit for them and the work that they do.”
Vorhees has served as a board member for the organization since July 2016. He said he’s seen the good the agency does for the community and that he wanted to give back in his own way.
“I know they wanted to expand and have a home to call their own rather than just a space in another building,” he said. “I got to talking with Jen Black, who has a great vision for that organization and a heart for our community where I knew that, with her leadership and after lots of discussion with board members, this building would give us an opportunity to expand those services and revitalize that neighborhood.”
The Alliance of Southwest Missouri is funded by individual donors, grants and donations to provide prevention education and direct services in Southwest Missouri. Anyone wishing to participate in its upcoming capital campaign can donate in person at 1601 S. Wall Ave. in Joplin, by mail or online through Facebook or theallianceofswmo.org.