The Wesley Mission Center needed a new home.
Since 1979, the center has served the community through emergency aid for those in need.
Located on the First United Methodist campus on the corner of Walnut Creek and Pleasant Ridge Drives, the center also operates as a thrift and second-hand store that provides affordable goods for people that have very little.
That involvement with community over the decades necessitated a move to a larger, more functional space. And this year, that need will be fulfilled.
Tentatively scheduled for August, the Wesley Mission Center will open its new doors at the Lee’s Center, near the northeast corner of Walnut Creek Drive and Broad Street. With a more functional space and approximately 800 more square feet than their old location, executive director Carmin MacMillan is excited for the move.
“The location is quite central for downtown Mansfield. We wanted to be at the heart of the city and more accessible for our clients and our program participants,” MacMillan said. “It’s something we have been looking forward to for awhile.”
The thrift store funds a wide range of community outreach for the center, including emergency aid. Part of the store funds are used to run some of the center’s programs, including job search help and the food pantry. Those programs will continue to run across Mansfield at various satellite locations as the move takes place.
“We don’t expect any or much down time during the move. Maybe lose a day at most,” Macmillan said. “Our programming – the financial empowerment and coaching, all of those things we do with our clients will be maintained at our current location and the satellite locations over the summer. And then we will be looking for space within that retail plaza to maybe lease spaces as they come up.”
The eventual goal of the center is to move all activities to Lee’s Center as funds become available.
Renovations for the new site will be provided by Grossman Design Build.
“The designs are almost complete. We are in the process right now of finalizing those,” said Terera Sherwood, member of the board of directors and former executive director for Wesley Mission Center. “This is something that has been a dream for some time and a prayer that this ministry would grow to some point that it has greater community impact.”
Ideas about the move have been circulating among the board members and directors for years. But as the old center started to lose some of its flexibility, the plans for a move started to pick up steam.
“This has been a vision of our board for some time. Our organization separately incorporated from First Methodist about three years ago and at that time the organization was really looking for an opportunity of growth,” MacMillan said. “Our current space isn’t all that prepared for an expansion, it started off initially as offices and then the retail space was added, and since then we have really exceeded our capacity for space and function.”
In addition to a new site, services to the community will be expanded. There will be new job program offerings and more financial aid education.
The impact the center has had on those in need in the community has been big over the years. And with this new center, the hope is that more services reach those in need.
“The idea that this is finally going to be a reality is finally sinking in. The vision for what this can look like is so exciting. Not just what this could look like immediately, but what it looks like the next five years, the next 10, the next 20. That’s where our heads are going,” Sherwood said. “What will this look like for the Mansfield community 20 years from now? We are excited to see what it will look like this next year, but the vision will always be looking forward as the community grows.”