Federal Grant Amended to Provide Agape House with Needed Items

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Mark Gomolski, Eastern Oregon Mission executive director, fills a donation box at the Agape House on Jan. 24, 2023. The EOM operates the Agape House, 500 W. Harper Road, in Hermiston as a food bank to those in need in the Hermiston area. (Hermiston Herald file photo)

The Umatilla Board of Commissioners at its Oct. 4 meeting reauthorized a portion of a Community Development Block Grant so the Eastern Oregon Mission’s Agape House can buy more equipment and food.

According to county documents, the Eastern Oregon Mission operates the Agape House, 500 W. Harper Road, in Hermiston. The nonprofit serves as a food bank to those in need within the Hermiston area, according to its website, as it relies on support from individuals, businesses, churches and other organizations.

County documents state the board, at the EOM’s request, applied for and was awarded on June 15, 2022, federal CARES Act Program funds for COVID-19 Impact Assistance in the amount of $250,000 for food bank assistance.

“After the purchase of the items initially identified, funds of approximately $67,000 remain,” county records state. “The Oregon Business Development Department has amended the grant agreement to authorize expenditures for (a) hydraulic lift trailer, additional shelving, and food.”

According to county documents, the hydraulic lift trailer is priced at $11,091; shelving at $10,296; and additional food at $46,065.

The “initially identified” items the grant was authorized for included wet and dry storage, transportation, security and warehouse equipment, county records state.

“The original grant we wrote had all of the items that we originally wanted, but because we went through the county’s bid process we saved a lot of money and so we have extra funds to spend,” Mark Gomolski, EOM executive director, said. “So since those things weren’t in the original proposal, we had to amend it so we can use those extra funds.”

He said the hydraulic lift trailer would be used to pick up donated items and dispose of useless donated items. The Agape House’s original lift trailer, he said, was vandalized years ago and the organization’s officials couldn’t get parts to fix it because it is so antiquated.

“So it was best, since we have this extra money, to try and get a new one and that’s what we did,” Gomolski said.

As for the new shelving, he said that would be used for food storage in the back of the building. Currently, Agape House officials are putting items on pallets and stacking the pallets.

“Whereas with the shelving we can remove some of that and get it up onto an area that would be easier for us to negotiate the back of the area,” Gomolski said. “And since we are looking to possibly expand, it would also help out putting some of the shelving units into the two sheds we have behind the main building.”

He added the additional food being purchased would go to the organization’s backpack program and everyday food service program. “Our increase in demand has skyrocketed, and we’re trying to negotiate with Costco and Walmart to get those items before Nov. 1 because that’s when the grant expires. We’re also working with Grocery Outlet.”

According to its website, the Agape House each school week provides elementary school students in Hermiston, Umatilla and Irrigon with food for the weekends.

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